Five predictions for the legal industry in 2019
In 2018, key law firm challenges included talent recruitment and retention, efficiency of operations, and maintenance of profitability. These factors existed alongside increasing pressure to deliver technology-enabled service that empowered clients continue to demand. Firms that failed to digitize and meet the need for faster, simpler and more tailored client services risked falling behind.
However, in 2019, firms have abundant opportunities for progress. New innovations and greater technology adoption will dovetail with more effective operational practices to achieve improved client service. As a leader in law firm technology solutions, Intapp is pleased to offer its top five industry predictions for 2019:
1. “Big Four” accounting firms will compete
Big Four accounting firms are now poised to become key players. With sizeable teams, these firms will invest heavily in legal technology and closely examine rival operational models, finding ways to compete with – or surpass – more traditional firms.
Emergence of providers like the Big Four means that traditional firms must differentiate, adjust operations, and ultimately provide greater client value. In 2019, traditional firms must directly compare delivery and performance attributes with these new players, because for the first time ever, the leading firms will not set industry practice benchmarks.
2. Industry-specific technology providers will capture market share
IDC predicts that 60 percent of GDP will be digitized by 2022, emphasizing the need for digital transformation while providing opportunities for technology vendors to deliver industry-specific capabilities. The trend towards purpose-built, vertical solutions for the professional services market will accelerate given higher demand, and innovations that address specialized requirements in the legal sector will capture business from horizontal technology providers.
3. Firms will revise pricing models
Changing client needs and an emphasis on transparency will result in value-based pricing models replacing billable hours. Firms adopting automation, including machine learning, will be enabled to free up attorney time for higher-level strategic tasks, replacing the administrative work that has traditionally been a part of billable hour models. Technology adopters will be the first to benefit from new pricing models due to a better understanding of service delivery cost and ways to achieve savings. Law firms that successfully overhaul their pricing model in this way will achieve greater profitability while delivering the value-based pricing that clients desire.
4. Firms will need to be more transparent
Well-informed about pricing, value and competitive alternatives, corporate legal teams are the epitome of today’s empowered client. In-house teams are constantly looking for new ways to engage, and their growing power means that in 2019, firms must impress their in-house colleagues to win and retain business. Firms must deliver a modern, secure and transparent experience, adapted to client needs, and corporate legal teams will view firms as business partners, not just as a source of specific legal support and expertise.
5. Restless clients will demand better service models
As digital transformation takes root, clients will expect more modern experiences and better service from their firms. New technologies and automated processes will introduce a new level of collaboration, making firms more transparent but at a cost of mounting pressure on existing service models and profitability. By leveraging automation, AI, machine learning and modern processes throughout the client lifecycle, firms will improve retention and boost new business opportunities and conversions.
Dan Tacone serves as President at Intapp, where he leads the company’s accounting, consulting, and financial services segments globally, in addition to overseeing transformation consulting services across all professional services segments.