Change offers opportunities to enlightened firms

Friday 5 June, 2020

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How can you manage a law firm effectively when the only certainty is uncertainty?

It seems to us that the answer is maximum flexibility regarding every arrangement and relationship. Your firm will have a myriad of such arrangements and some of these will be under contract. These provided certainty in stable times but now may become a millstone. Is it too much to suggest that, during the recovery phase, there is nothing that is not re-negotiable?

If lockdown shone a light on new working practices, and how technology enabled these, it is only sensible to ask your software supplier how these can be adopted and supported going forwards.

There are many different reasons why a practice might decide it is time to re-evaluate its software supplier, including:

  • End of contract
  • Change in fortune of the existing supplier
  • Change in circumstance of the firm

Perhaps there is nothing “wrong” with your current software as such, but you feel that there just may be a better solution out there. Whatever the trigger, it is most important to have in mind a 3-6 month window in which to evaluate what you have and assess alternative solutions. It is not a decision that should be rushed, and if you don’t leave yourselves enough time then you could easily be swept in to an automatic renewal, and tied to your current software for perhaps another two or three years.

In our experience, the firms that extract the most benefit from transferring to a new system are those that followed a structured review process. Before starting a search of alternative providers, we recommend the following:

  • Gather together all essential information about the existing software contract
    • The contract end date and what happens immediately afterwards
    • Any notice period needed to avoid an auto-renewal taking place
    • What happens to the firm’s data in the event of not renewing?
    • How will data be returned to the firm and will it be in raw form or in a report format?
    • Will a charge be made for returning the data from the current supplier?
    • How will any residual data be managed to satisfy GDPR regulations?
  • Establish a project team of all vested stakeholders who will be at every stage of the review and recommendation process.

Part 2: Drawing up a list of necessary software functionality and the traits of a reputable system supplier.