Latest news – Regulatory boom a money-maker; Systems issues a bugbear; Don’t miss survey deadline

[Australasian Law Management Journal,General Management,Marketing & Business Development,People Management(HR),Strategy & Leadership,Technology] February 24, 2020

Regulatory advice a windfall for top-tier firms

Revenue from regulatory advice looks set to be the big money earner for some of the biggest Australian law firms in 2020, according to the 2020 round of the Financial Review Law Partnership Survey.

On the back of a strong year in 2019 for such regulatory advice following the Hayne royal commission, the trend appears likely to continue this year. The Australian Financial Review reports that top-tier firm King & Wood Mallesons’ dispute resolution practice recorded revenue growth exceeding 10 per cent last year. Herbert Smith Freehills’ disputes and regulatory practice also grew significantly in 2019, while Allens, too, reported revenue growth in its regulatory investigations practice.

The survey shows that for mid-tier legal firms, insurance has been a common revenue growth area. Employment offerings at mid-tier firms are also expected to provide revenue growth in 2020.

Systems overhaul a challenge for legal departments

A new survey pinpoints one of the big challenges in the thoughts of legal department operations professionals (LDOs) – how they can help integrate, evolve and replace existing systems in support of their legal department needs and processes.

The Blickstein Group’s 2019 Law Department Operations Survey indicates that almost half of the survey participants are planning or actively developing a strategy to address how they improve these systems issues.

The 12th Annual Law Department Operations Survey reveals that participants identify business process improvement, cost containment and savings, and management of the budget as top challenges, followed closely by concerns over the management and retention of department resources, staying abreast of technology and managing outside counsel. The Blickstein Group is an American consultancy which helps businesses understand the needs of corporate law departments.

Survey respondents report improvements across the board in the effective use of technology, with electronic signatures and e-billing both coming to the fore. However, contract management and document management continue to trail behind all other technologies for effective use. It is not that they are less useful, but rather that they are not being utilised to capacity.

Despite all the money and effort being poured into innovation by law firms, LDO professionals remain “unconvinced” about the ability of those firms to break new ground. Just 32.7 per cent of respondents feel that their law firms are innovative. The law firms are not completely to blame as law departments have not held up their end of the deal either. Less than one in two (49 per cent) of respondents agree that law firms are leveraging technology to deliver legal services more effectively and cost-efficiently.

What are you worth? Last chance to fill out survey

Time is almost up for law firm professionals to complete the annual ALPMA 2020 Legal Salary & HR Issues Survey.

The industry report provides a chance to benchmark your firm’s HR and salary data. However, the deadline for completing the survey is this Friday, March 6, 2020. Participation is free and open to all Australian law firms.

Those who complete the survey will receive a free copy of the final report. The survey takes 30-60 minutes to complete and preparation documents have been provided. You can access details about the survey and the preparation documents here.

If you have any questions about the survey or need assistance, please contact Emma Elliott, ALPMA’s General Manager on e.elliott@alpma.com.au or call +61 3 8644 7055.