Trends towards downscaling and outsourcing are set to persist in the current economic climate.
Larger corporates seek to reduce overheads, including office space and long-term salary commitments, and are looking to reduce legal costs. Defined as taking the next step forward, one that perpetually propels towards an outcome, next-gen solutions may be what legal practitioners need to embrace to succeed.
. To counter this challenge legal practitioners, both newly qualified and experienced, need to change the way they do business. Large legal firms need to ensure that they remain current and appropriate to retain existing – and gain new – business to keep their operation afloat. While the outsourcing trend can indeed be considered a win for small firms, practitioners in these companies will need to diversify their skill sets in order to capitalise on the trends and be able to talk to more industries.
Thabo Molefe, Divisional Executive Director at LexisNexis South Africa, offers legal practitioners some tactical tools to tackle these challenges, become adaptable and stay current:
- Get news. Stay up to date on legal news and industry trends. “Reading and staying informed is an important skill to curate,” says Molefe. “Subscribing to industry newsletters will help you stay current on what is being reported, but always ensure that the information you read and retain is from a reputable and reliable source, not merely an opinion-based report.”
- Work smart – embrace next-gen solutions. Subscribe to tailor made industry tools that increase work efficiencies, increasing your billable hours. Do your research and find out who the industry leaders are in this regard. Who offers the most current and up to date content and resources for legal professionals in all practice areas? Find out how these tools will save you time by providing you with practical guidance, templates and workflow solutions that enable you to approach matters in a systematic manner or alerts that advise you on changes impacting the industries you service, all supported by commentary to help guide you in your understanding and application.
- Be social. “Face-to-face networking meetings and events may be considered wasteful time expenditure, but they still offer value,” says Molefe. “You get to sit under experts sharing feedback, while being offered an opportunity to connect with others in the field. These events can also help you position yourself with industry players, invited guests and even the media, who may be in attendance, giving you an opportunity to promote your brand.”
- Use social. Networking meetings are not the only relevant form of connecting with industry peers and establishing your brand. Molefe recommends joining social media networking platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook. “These may be thought of, by traditional practitioners, as wasted time. But these forums provide an excellent environment for enrichment, as well as connection with like-minded practitioners,” he says.
- Follow, then be a leader. Follow industry experts on Twitter or Linked-in, join relevant Facebook groups around topics of interest and scan your newsfeed to check what is trending. Read articles that are re-posted and share articles of relevance to position yourself as a thought leader. Add experts and industry leaders to your network by sending invitations or follow requests – once you have started to add interesting content to your newsfeed – this will improve your follow back success rate.