In the COVID-19 environment it is essential that law firms deploy new digital initiatives, strong leadership and counterintuitive thinking – doing the opposite of many things that made sense before the pandemic – if they want to survive and thrive. In this era of compressed cycles, firms need to understand that risk-taking, disruption and fluidity are the new comfort zones. True rethinks are in order as Joe McKendrick writes in Forbes, making it clear that “recognizing they need to recast their business models” firms must “explore and experiment with new opportunities”.
It’s time for Big Law in particular to reach for the stars — not unlike the Manhattan Project or the Space Race — and for leadership to aggressively hunt for and find these “new opportunities” and playmakers.
To do that, bigger firms and smaller firms alike must embrace technology platforms to find new growth lanes using cloud-based tools that improve connections to clients and partners. Simply doubling down on efficiency and entering “survival mode” might seem like the safe play, but it’s far too risky. Instead firms need to focus on mindset change, external partnerships, and digital experience differentiation.
The pandemic functions as a reset button forcing law firms to hone-in on new opportunities and fresh approaches. Ones that are not proxies for conventional wisdom, the status quo or groupthink. But rather a way forward that lays the groundwork for the new era of Post COVID-19 success, showing how virtual law and business life can coexist and succeed together on a grand scale. A true solution to the challenges of the current crisis.
COVID-19 is the unwitting catalyst for digital transformation requiring new ways of thinking. Not just about the impacts of social distancing and virtual services but shifting the ways law firms interact with clients and business partners. A new era of inclusion, collaboration and innovation is about to begin, and a great opportunity for law firms to help lead the way. For this to happen they need to act fast, filling the innovation and customer experience gaps quickly by partnering with smaller digital platform companies.
Both Deloitte’s Joe Ucuzoglu and InsurTech Connect’s Caribou Honig agree. Ucuzoglu is a proponent of embracing new business models and external partnerships where firms have “opportunities to co-own, co-create and co-evolve” in a hurry. Honig sees non-traditional companies coming to law with fresh business models that give incumbent firms the ability to offer new products with far reaching capabilities and benefits to clients for free. According to Honig, these are the ones to pounce on “because that’s where the action is really going to happen.”
Law Firms and their Business Ecosystems
Firms of all sizes looking for growth and opportunity during and after COVID-19 need to nurture their “ecosystems.” For context, this means the entirety of people and companies that are involved with a law firm, including vendors, strategic partners, and clients. When these stakeholders are disconnected, law firms (especially the big players) miss out on finding and engaging the people that drive technology transformation.
Enabling these connections in a meaningful way is best done through a new type of technology platform, one that encourages big and little players to work together for mutual gain. For examples of platforms transforming industries, consider the impact Robinhood has on the investing industry, or the opportunities provided to online store startups through Shopify. In both cases, a new platform entered the industry landscape and reshaped the previous limits on both access and opportunity.
One platform focused on leveraging ecosystems and scaling businesses is DealRockit. Often called “LinkedIn on steroids”, DealRockit’s first of its kind digital ecosystem levels the playing field and offers a simpler and more efficient means to cultivate vital business relationships and solve big problems fast. Well before COVID-19, DealRockit envisioned a digital world where firms can rapidly accelerate growth, business inclusion and customer experience without having to leave homes or offices.
A law firm using the platform could invite their clients, prospects, vendors, colleagues, and strategic partners onto a single closed digital marketplace that encourages new deals and deeper connections. By expanding their reach through an invitation-only platform, law firms can achieve compounded results. So, whether they need to help attract capital investments or find a quality SaaS firm, a platform such as DealRockit provides law firms with access to the right people and opportunities. It brings together like-minded buyers, providers and investors looking to connect, collaborate and complete deals. Using platforms for connectivity encourages collaboration by blending technological and human elements together. As the pandemic eases, this type of connection will prove invaluable for law firms that need to provide a more humanized touch while also using the latest tech to meet shifting client and societal expectations.
Moving beyond COVID-19 will require law firm owners and partners to adjust to a “new normal” and recognize their industry is a laggard with technology and collaboration. Reaching growth and expanded profits during this time will force big and small firms to invest more heavily in their ecosystems and rely on external partnerships for continued success. It’s time for law firms to offer concrete client benefits, making their digital experiences better through smart technology tools and platforms.
Law Firms as the New Catalyst
America is often shaped by large companies, but our country’s exceptionalism comes from startups, small businesses and access to opportunity. Thus, our new catalysts could very well be those large law firms that, thanks to platforms, will now be able to answer the challenge of releasing digital products in days or weeks rather than being left behind.
It will be these visionary firms, using platforms, that will create never thought possible external partnerships and collaborations with small and minority businesses, that will drive the new age of American exceptionalism and financial inclusion. This round of innovation and small business and minority success stories will largely center on how previous strangers came together quickly to achieve outsized results and became the new innovators and rainmakers that others aspired to be.
In the current economy, all of us — individuals and businesses alike — are looking for a new way forward, a solution to the challenges of the current crisis. Perhaps the silver lining to this crisis will be how big law seized upon this historic opportunity and defied its critics by being at the forefront of a global movement that transforms and grows their business and helps solve the greatest crisis of a generation.
Albert Einstein said: “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” That statement has never been truer than today.