Could a new collaberation between Lexis Nexis and Microsoft be a gamechanger for legal business? Simon Thompson weighs up the possibilities
The provision of business systems within the legal sector is about to experience another shake up.
As I have argued for a number of years, the structures, processes and systems required to manage a law firm are not unique to the sector. Much of what is required can be taken from best practice in other types of professional services firms and other industry sectors. As such, law firms should be exploiting the advanced and integrated functionality available from the leading commercial enterprise resource planning (ERP) or integrated business systems. While global law firm Linklaters has demonstrated that this is possible using a structural analysis program, few others seems to have been able to follow suit.
Now another player is making a concerted and focused effort in the legal market business systems space – Lexis Nexis through its new integrated business systems platform (code named Nimbus), which is based on the Microsoft Dynamics AX platform.
The need to obtain access to best practice business process in areas such as financial management, resource management, business analytics and people development is heightened by the current business context that law firms find themselves in. This is a volatile market characterised by a more sophisticated and demanding client base, greater competition, new emerging business models and a rapidly changing world-wide economic landscape.The demands for firms to demonstrate and to be more efficient, transparent and agile is clear. The traditional approach of discreet solutions designed for a legacy legal sector may no longer ‘cut the mustard’.
If firms are to deliver in the new environment they need to integrate process around the management of a single view of financials, people and clients. The ability to deliver compliance with accounting and tax regulations in the various jurisdictions around the world through a single solution should be ‘out of the box’, as should support for currency and language. The systems that firms employ should support them as they try to manage their entire cost base, fully understand what drives profitability, improve margin, optimise resource usage, and manage their people talent.
While the approach of some business systems vendors to the legal profession market seems to be stalling, it may be that the combined forces of LexisNexis and Microsoft could be a game changer.Through their AX platform Microsoft offer enterprise capable, integrated and best in class business systems while LexisNexis offer the thin layer of configuration necessary to meet the specific demands of the legal market.Their approach certainly reflects my view of how technology should support business process within a law firm and it will be interesting to see how other vendors respond and the legal market reacts.