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Time to address law firm pitfalls

Time to address law firm pitfalls

The challenging economy might be the catalyst needed for the legal profession to address its fundamental management pitfalls, according to Swaab Attorney's CEO, Bronwyn Pott. A former accountant…

The challenging economy might be the catalyst needed for the legal profession to address its fundamental management pitfalls, according to Swaab Attorney's CEO, Bronwyn Pott.

A former accountant and current president of the Australian Legal Practice Management Association (ALPMA), Pott believes management issues have posed a significant challenge to the legal profession for some time now, and that the current economic conditions might provide the wake up call for law firms to actually do something about it.

"Clients were already complaining about the poor value of some of our services, there was already pressure on structures about how sustainable they were long term for the new generation... but all that was masked by the fact it was a seller's market," said Pott.

"Now we have this sudden swing from a seller's market to a buyer's market."

Speaking to Lawyers Weekly before the opening of ALPMA's National Summit on the Gold Coast law week, Pott said from a staff retention and employment point of view the current economic conditions provide some welcome relief from the talent shortage that had previously challenged the legal profession.

However, she said the downside is that clients are exercising more power to be selective about their legal services spend, and are even starting to dictate price.

"We've had to look at where we really add value, that I think is the biggest change that will run across the profession - that, and how firms are structured," she said.

Pott added that good law firms are realising they need to pull in non-lawyer specialists in areas such as IT, HR, finance, business development and general management in order to better manage their businesses.

"I think it's more a function of the fact that they are really significant businesses now, if you're turning over such large figures every year, you don't want to be managing it by sitting around having a coffee," she said.

For a full report, see Friday's edition of Lawyers Weekly

-Angela Priestley

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