As reported by the ABA Journal’s Debra Cassens Weiss, another large law firm is laying off a number of administrative staffers as it changes its staffing model.
Apparently this is nothing new as a survey (PDF) by law firm consultant, Altman Weil found that forty-eight percent of law firm leaders are cutting staff to increase profits.
Taking the firms at their word, layoffs are often coming from increased efficiencies and modernization. I’m sure in other cases staff layoffs are coming for exactly the opposite reason – a lack of efficiency, tech advancements and innovation.
In any case, I wonder what companies selling services and products are doing to help law firms on the cost front.
After all, these companies should have declining costs with innovation and efficiencies, in large part driven by their own technology. As a result, their costs of production and their own staff needs may be declining.
By turning the design and development into a “software” driven system (SAAS), we have been able to decrease production time on “sites” to about twenty percent of what many of them used to be. This also reduces staff time that used to be tied up in more project management.
As a result, we have reduced costs significantly, and in turn prices. We are now working on some things to further automate what we do, not to reduce the quality of what we deliver, but to deliver better solutions to customers in ways that they expect it and want it.
It’s not always easy to “right size” pricing when it means decreasing prices, but it’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also sound business. It turns out that many customers want levels of “concierge” service that command higher pricing.
For law firms, I’d be looking at how innovate your service and solution providers are. What are they doing with technology to bring innovation and efficiencies? Is the technology they are using today and the people working on it likely to drive greater value, while at the same time lower prices — or at least right sized pricing for what you want and need?
Times are a changing dramatically. Technology and innovation doesn’t wait for anyone. Law firms are going to see continued cuts because of multiple factors — some driven internally by innovation and some driven externally by their clients and the way people use lawyers.
Service and solution providers should feel the same pressure as law firms – the answer is innovation to bring better services and solutions at reduced costs.