Resourcing and Investing in Firm Profitability Software
In February 2021, Legal Value Network and Blickstein Group, in collaboration with Intapp, released a report on key findings of the inaugural Legal Pricing and Project Management (LPPM) Survey. The survey showed that 75% of LPPM professionals feel their primary job centers around change management. Christopher Kraft, General Manager of Operations and Finance Solutions at Intapp, attributed this statistic to the “heightened value and profitability expectations, which demand new processes for budgeting, proposals, and fee arrangements driven by the LPPM function and partner-led change management.”
As Kraft also pointed out, “With the appropriate technology and expertise, firms can proactively reach out to clients directly — which clients prefer — to create fee structures that provide better client value while protecting profitability.” The change management effort takes several months for the entire firm to fully adopt new structures, models, and technology. As a result, LPPM professionals face challenges to drive change, meet client expectations, and improve business profitability analysis.
Firms looking to improve both client satisfaction and profitability should examine their resourcing processes. Many partners tend repeatedly rely on the same service team members, given their substantive knowledge and established relationship with the client. However, this can lead to issues if an assigned team member is unavailable or otherwise unable to provide the expected levels of client service.
“Finding people who have the right expertise is critical,” pointed out Dan Pratt, Product Manager at Intapp. “The other important piece is finding people who are actually available to do the work. You may have the right person in mind, but they may be too busy with other matters.”
Sharon Scenna, Senior Solutions Management Director at Intapp, added: “Once you finally identify the parameters of an experienced resource who is available, you then need to consider if that resource is cost-effective and the right fit for the service team.”
Scenna recommends firms confirm whether a resource’s experience, skill set, and service style align with the client, and that the professional’s work can be priced in line with the client’s budget requirements. Finding the right resources at the right time and for the right price may not be easy, but it’s essential to balance client satisfaction and firm profitability.
Collaboratively Creating Profitability Modeling
LPPM professionals are instrumental in driving change and creating profitability models within their firms; however, they need to understand that they can’t do it alone. They should work with other teams to ensure that all new decisions address any potential issues from all angles.
“It’s important to have collaboration between marketing, pricing, and the lawyers pitching the work,” Pratt explained. “You need to get everybody at the table to hammer through all the requirements, whether it’s from a legal or administrative standpoint.”
“It can be difficult getting both lawyers and LPPM professionals to cooperate, agree to build a plan, and then pick the appropriate model,” said Brent Bourque, Senior Director and Practice Group Leader for Operations and Finance at Intapp. However, once lawyers and LPPM professionals come to an agreement, the new plan and model will be more likely to succeed because of all the provided input from both parties.
Building a Culture of Transparency with Cloud-Based Law Firm Software
The LPPM survey revealed that, despite the desire of LPPM professionals to advance innovation and deploy change management, lawyers can be slow to embrace new technology investments. Some feel that learning how to use the technology will take too much time and effort. Thankfully, Intapp technology, such as Engagement DNA™ and OnePlace Operations & Finance, uses AI to ensure users can quickly and easily access what they need when they need it.
“Engagement DNA lets pricing teams easily search for similar matters when pricing a new engagement,” said Pratt. He also added that tools, such as OnePlace Operations & Finance, a cloud-based Intapp suite, allows lawyers, LPPM professionals, and firm leaders to maintain profitability and improve visibility of matters. Lawyers and their teams have ongoing and immediate access to matter activity, from financial metrics like margin, leverage, and realization to timecard activity and matter progress. In turn, this gives lawyers the insights they need to manage matters and their client relationships with more agility, insights, and clarity to ensure successful client outcomes.
“Intapp helps firms establish transparency around matter metrics,” explained Scenna. “Lawyers can use those metrics to guide their decisions on case strategy and advise clients on budget expectations.”
Implementing law firm pricing tools and practice management software is an excellent way for firms to price and address client matters accurately and efficiently. But, as Bourque pointed out, LPPM professionals must also ensure that all teams are truly committed to learning how to properly utilize the software.
“Software alone doesn’t solve a firm’s problems,” Bourque said. “It takes a change management effort and buy-in from senior leaders. There has to be an alignment around what metrics are important, and there has to be an enforcement of that agreement.”
Learn more about using AI-based technology to increase client satisfaction and firm profitability: