63% of law firms rank “highly specialized legal talent and capabilities” as top Staffing & Expertise strategic priority
70% of respondents rated productized offerings as lowest ‘Service Offerings & Positioning’ priority
68% of respondents say their clients are likely to look for legal technology development and/or distribution solutions from their legal advisor
A new research study looking into law firm capabilities was released today by Axiom Consulting Partners (“Axiom”), an advisory firm integrating strategy, artificial intelligence (AI) and behavioral science to help clients grow and transform their businesses. The report, Staying Relevant: Specialized Talent and Technology Move Front and Center, found that law firms have significant gaps in fulfilling constantly changing client needs. In particular, clients are looking for more specialized talent for their most critical matters, along with legal-centric technology solutions. Firms have made some progress with talent and leveraging data for insights, but most have more work to do in order to meet client needs.
“According to leaders from the top U.S. and global law firms that we surveyed, firms are increasingly asked to provide very specialized legal talent and capabilities, adding to the pressures they already face from their highly demanding clients,” said Axiom partner and study leader Mark Masson, who heads the firm’s Professional Services practice. “Amid that, we are seeing that they face a clear challenge to find and retain the right talent required to address these needs.”
Axiom’s analysis suggests that there are three ways that firms can address the challenges they face:
Develop improved strategies to acquire specialized talent
Devote meaningful resources to developing and deploying the specialization that the market requires
Optimize teams to maximize the impact of specialist talent
Develop a holistic strategy around technology and data-based offerings
The research further showed a dichotomy in the industry’s approach to legal technology development and so-called ‘productized’ services, that is, more automated or remotely available offerings, with 70 percent ranking productized services lowest in their priorities while 68 percent admit that clients are likely to look for data-backed solutions.
“To succeed, firms will need to combine a thoughtful, consistent investments in talent acquisition and development while also developing more full-view, data-supported technology offerings,” Masson noted. “Better data utilization can also help them improve the staffing model so they can make better use of their existing in-house expertise.”
Firms that stay close to clients, show an understanding of their evolving needs, and take the initiative to change their approach to the client experience will succeed and continue to serve clients the right way, at the right time, and for the foreseeable future, suggests Axiom’s research.
The researchers asked a series of questions focused on the most salient industry trends in client needs, their strategic focus, and the challenges to making change and progress. Particular focus was placed on questions related to Service Offerings and Positioning, Digital Transformation, Pricing and Contracting, and Staffing and Expertise priorities. Chiefs and heads of functional areas from 27 firms of the AmLaw and Global Top 100 responded. The survey was fielded in Q1 2022.