Survey Results Reveal the Transformation of the Legal Operations Role and Mismatched Expectations Between Law Firms and Their Clients’ Inside Counsel
The results of the Legal Pricing and Project Management Survey — conducted by the Legal Value Network and Blickstein Group in collaboration with Intapp — point to a disconnect between law firms and their corporate clients in three key areas: value expectations, service delivery, and cost efficiencies.
Overall, the data indicates that the client-driven drumbeat — for both innovation on pricing and higher value for their spend — has reached a crescendo; clients are no longer asking for better; they’re demanding it. With clients looking to alternative solutions for legal work — including their own inside counsel — the urgency for firms to keep pace is clear.
Client-centric service models have become the norm, and pricing and legal operations professionals are simultaneously tasked with keeping clients satisfied while hitting profitability targets.
Managing Change and Delivering Client Value
There’s no question we’re witnessing the growing influence of the operations function within law firms as it relates to driving change; in fact, three-quarters of survey respondents identify change management as their primary job function.
Clients no longer accept hourly billing as status quo; instead, they expect pricing transparency, predictability, and return on investment. When pricing and operations groups are set up to produce budget scenarios and proposals using AI-guided technologies like Intapp Pricing, staff are able to provide accurate numbers up front and manage to budget, which is ultimately what clients actually want.
Hitting Profitability Targets
Although pricing and legal operations staff are on the front lines with clients and responsible for innovating services and creating alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), they’re also on point to deliver on firm-determined profitability targets.
Like the clients they serve, pricing and legal operations professionals benefit from modernized pricing models. More than three-quarters of survey respondents say that AFAs are more cost efficient and profitable than hourly billing. Although AFAs require up-front planning supported by technology — along with careful staffing — matters are much easier to monitor and adjust than hourly-rate engagements, which is good for both clients and the firm.
Supporting the Client Lifecycle
The widespread technology gap in the legal industry causes a deep data divide. In fact, survey results show that nearly half of pricing and legal operations staff say they don’t have the technologies they need to do their jobs effectively. This lapse impedes access to strategic intelligence, limits reporting capabilities, and prevents pricing and legal operations professionals from leveraging the sophisticated analysis they need to deliver the level of service and value clients expect.
The lack of systems integration compounds this problem, and materially impacts realization rates and client retention. Survey results show that firms benefit from using technology to address client expectations across the matter lifecycle — from pitch and proposal through business acceptance and service delivery; a subset of the most sophisticated are using advanced technologies — like AI — to better scope legal work and predict future outcomes.
Gaining a Competitive Edge
Market pressures incentivize firms to remain innovative in support of their clients while corporate legal departments demand data-driven transparency and reporting. Firms that are leveraging technology to improve client value while preserving profitability are poised for success.
For an in-depth discussion of the results of the Legal Pricing and Project Management Survey, register to attend the legal Value Network’s Legal Pricing and Practice Management Virtual Summit on March 3.