Rainmaking storms pelt business acceptance teams
All partners must be rainmakers in law firms today. A 2018 report finds that 78% of managing partners consider business development skills a major partnership-invitation factor. Ambitious attorneys are pelting business acceptance teams with constant, urgent evaluation requests. The question is, how will law firms adapt business acceptance to accommodate this new normal?
Manage growing demand
Law firms have beefed up business development resources in the last several years. Most medium-and large-sized firms have a fleet of business development managers. They help attorneys develop and execute business development plans. Make no mistake about it—these marketing tactics and pressure on lawyers to bring in business are straining current business acceptance approaches. Firms must assess what changes are needed to handle this growing demand for new business evaluations.
Start billing faster
Business acceptance teams feel pressure to speed up processes so lawyers can start generating revenue. In most firms, antiquated systems and manual processes bog down evaluations and delay billing start-up. The current state has reached a breaking point.
Streamlined conflicts and due diligence can help firms open matters faster. Automating and integrating financial and conflicts risk assessments would help a ton. Today, staff has to jump from system to system to gather necessary data. And the data is not uniform so staff must clean it up for analysis. Sleeker, user-friendly reports would also speed things up. Right now it takes lawyers longer than necessary to wade through cumbersome conflicts reports and bulked-up diligence information from disparate systems.
Managing mounting risks
Speed, however, can never take priority over proper risk assessment to protect the firm and ensure client satisfaction. As firms evolve business acceptance they must account for client requirements in engagement letters and outside counsel guidelines (OCGs). This is a burgeoning risk area.
You see, OCGs have become standard practice for legal engagements. Most firms, however, lack technology to rifle through thousands of OCGs, each with hundreds of billing, data, and other matter terms. Without proper upfront analysis of these voluminous and varied terms, it’s hard for firms to get their head around the terms they must execute. Firms won’t always know what they’ve agreed to do during matter execution. This makes establishing compliance monitoring very difficult, and at best, scattered.
This is a growing problem for firms because OCG compliance affects revenue. Clients reject bills that violate OCGs. And firms typically end up writing off the offending charges.
Adapt your business acceptance, now
With partner hopes pinned in part to rainmaking, associates are highly motivated to deluge the firm with new business opportunities. Partner compensation ties to rainmaking as well, which means this group will continue to step up their business development efforts. But despite the onslaught, you don’t need to let change overwhelm you. Take a leadership role and adapt your business acceptance today. To start the journey, read our ebook, “The 5 big trends changing law firm business acceptance.”
Carolyn Casey, JD, is a lawyer and author who writes on trends in legal technology and operations, information governance, global regulations, data protection, and artificial intelligence.