Goodbye job applications, hello dream career
Seize control of your career and design the future you deserve with LW career

How to future-proof your firm

For boutiques, being future-proof is — or should be — high on the priority list. Here, these boutique firm leaders share their tips and tricks on what works and what doesn’t.

user iconLauren Croft 08 June 2023 SME Law
expand image

Future-proofing a boutique business — or any business — is a key consideration for many in the face of a global economic downturn and potential recession looming.

While this can involve adopting a number of strategies and practices to anticipate and adapt to upcoming changes in the market and legal industry — something that has been widely discussed in the profession — there are a number of key factors to consider.

These include, ALA Law director Amanda Little told Lawyers Weekly, embracing legal tech, improving digital literacy and maintaining a flexible workplace, among other factors.


“Ensure your firm is up to date with the latest technology and tools, investing in the best practice management software, automation systems and artificial intelligence for all aspects of the firm’s business. Encourage staff to understand and effectively use technology, by fostering a culture of continual learning to keep pace with emerging digital trends,” she said.

“Cultivate a flexible work environment with fluid and flexible working arrangements; adopt policies that accommodate the preferences of the new generation of lawyers; invest in technology infrastructure to attract and retain top talent. Invest in your talent by way of talent development: create a solid succession plan for the future of the firm by providing a framework for identifying and growing future leaders.”

In addition, Ms Little noted that her firm has implemented both client-centric practices and innovation within their team, as well as keeping a close eye on “emerging trends, disruptors, innovators and thinkers” within the profession.

On a similar note, Redenbach Legal principal solicitor Keith Redenbach said that by keeping an eye on the market, he spotted the trend of artificial intelligence over a decade ago.

“Over 20 years ago, I developed an interest in technology and founded a number of technology companies, which have become very successful. Most recently, my firm was listed as a Microsoft ISV partner, and, as a result, have access to cutting-edge technology, which has been developed and continues to be developed,” he said.

“As a firm that provides specialist legal services, it is important to understand your market better than anybody else. It’s even important to understand your market better than your own clients. And even better, it is important to understand your market better than other firms’ clients.

“Once you understand the market, you will, almost immediately, be in a superior position to be able to react to trends and even set them. As the saying goes, you can either act or be acted upon.”

For Danny King Legal (DKL) principal Danny King, delving into new technology has also been important for future-proofing her firm, in addition to succession planning.

“Future-proofing a boutique firm begins with a detailed strategy, as it ensures we are aligned as a business on our objectives and our values too. Both seeking and accepting feedback from the wider team is also crucial to develop a workplace where each member feels valued. And from a business development point of view, carefully considering new technology advancements and being across leading industry insights is critical to remaining competitive,” she outlined.

“Succession planning plays a fundamental role in future-proofing a business, and I’m in the process of ‘making myself redundant’ to ensure DKL is in the best possible position for its next stage.

“For me personally, exploring a few passion projects has had a hugely positive impact on the way I approach succession planning. It’s given me the ability to think differently and bring a different perspective to the process.”

Succession planning has been previously revealed to be of the utmost importance to boutiques — and is something Ms Little said “is crucial for the long-term success and sustainability of a law firm”.

“It ensures continuity of client relationships, retention of institutional knowledge, talent development and long-term retention, mitigation of long-term business risks ensuring the firm is not vulnerable to unexpected events (such as COVID-19) and competitive advantage by showing that the firm is forward-thinking, organised, and committed to long-term success,” she explained.

“Future-proofing a firm [also] requires consideration of the current and future needs of the firm and its practitioners and developing a strategic plan on how to address each of the above issues. Consider putting together a two-, five- and 10-year plan and reassessing these plans on each two-year anniversary. Keep track of the progression of your plan and implementation and adjust accordingly. Your firm’s and your needs will change as your practice evolves, and this future-proofing and succession planning will need to change to meet the needs of all the key stakeholders.”

Succession planning is important not only for the firm itself but also for the people in it. In fact, Mr Redenbach said that boutiques, if they are able, should project into the future for every single staff member.

“I have developed a personal development plan for every single person in the firm, as well as the firm itself. There will be hiccups along the way, and one cannot ever predict with certainty, the future, or its outcomes, planning in this way will give a great sense of ownership and belonging to everyone in the firm.

“Having a personal and professional goal which align is extremely crucial. Having clients that are consistent with your personal values and do not infringe upon them is essential. Taking revenue for revenue’s sake is just not an option, in my opinion. Having rich personal goals which work in alliance with profitable business goals is probably the most crucial thing I have come to realise in my entire career,” he added.

I have had to make some difficult decisions, both in terms of staff working with me, as well as clients. On every occasion, I have made the right decision to move forward in a principled direction, which aligns with my personal values and goals, and does not look at, say, revenue as a core item. The principled way forward is by far the most successful way.”

And if in doubt during these future-proofing and succession planning processes, Ms King said to trust your staff.

“Starting a boutique firm can be incredibly intensive, and once it has its rhythm, there is a joy in taking a step back. Listen to your people; they’re well intentioned and more often than not have great insights,” she said.

“Try new things, and don’t be afraid to fail. Those short-term rough patches are often the best learning opportunities and shouldn’t scare you.”

You need to be a member to post comments. Become a member for free today!