So, this week (October 6) the much anticipated Legal Services Act (LSA) comes into force. For some, this anticipation has been spent in a state of excitement. For many, particularly in the legal sector, it has been more akin to awaiting sentencing after a guilty verdict has been returned at the end of a high profile criminal trial.
In short, the LSA will open up the legal sector allowing many other organisations, such as supermarkets and banks, to offer legal services, something they have not been able to do in the past. Many consumers and media commentators have been calling it Tesco’s Law as a result.
I have not been shy in these posts to say that I do not think this is a bad thing for the industry. Competition is a good thing, not just for clients but for businesses generally. It is a catalyst for organisations to look at what they are doing and see what they could be doing better. This is something which the legal sector has traditionally not been very good at.
There is a lot of noise about and fear of change. It is pointless being afraid though. It is more a case of do something or get out of the profession. Some smaller firms have been merging to get critical mass, thinking bigger is better. In my opinion they are going about it in the wrong way though. Specialising is the way forward, being very good in a specific area of the law, offering something “unique”. This is what we have done and people appear to be asking us more and more how we are running our business. We have run effectively an Alternative Business Structure (ABS) for the last ten years with specialists to run the business and lawyers to get on with the law.
With this background, we recently carried out a customer survey and the results show that we are performing better than the average law firm. It looked at three things: comparison with other firms, overall satisfaction and clients' willingness to recommend us. Our results have improved across all three from the last survey in 2009. New regulations which come on October 6 dictate that all firms have got to measure customer satisfaction. The reaction from the profession to this has been ridicule. My reaction is: is anybody not doing this already?! Surely every business does this in some way already? We are a competitive business after all. You do not need an alternative business structure, or a lesson from Tesco, for this to make good business sense.