18 Aug 2017

Opportunistic law firms succeed in changing their fortunes

Only a small number of opportunistic firms are making the big changes needed to increase revenue and market share.

A focus on increasing internal efficiency by leveraging legal project management and technology, in addition to exploring new revenue streams, is driving law firm success, according to new research benchmarking law firms and their clients. The results show 66 per cent  of firms are focused on being more efficient, but only a small group of opportunistic practices are actually executing on this focus, leading to new business opportunities.

Project management

The research found that only 15 per cent of law firms rate themselves at a level 4/5 on the legal project management maturity model, meaning they have well-defined and dedicated resources to support the defined process, along with executive sponsorship. On the other end of the spectrum, 37 per cent of firms rate themselves at level 1 – ad hoc. Partners are still considered the primary project manager for 65 per cent  of law firms – up 16 per cent from 2016 – when best practice advice suggests having a Project Management Institute (PMI) trained professional leading such efforts.


On the technology front, only 37 per cent of respondents expect their firms’ annual technology budget to increase next year. Furthermore, 66 per cent of respondents have not adopted technology that enables the firm to better collaborate with clients/service providers. The research, which was conducted by E-Discovery company Exterro, said e-discovery was an untapped market for law firms – 49 per cent of law firms have less than one per cent of their firm’s revenue coming from e-discovery managed services.


'The main take away from the 2017 Law Firm Benchmarking Report for me is that while the majority of law firms seem to recognise the need to innovate in the area of project management, many are still struggling to increase efficiency and transparency. Yet the firms that are optimising their processes with project management principles are able to enjoy a strong competitive advantage and meet the increased demands of their clients,' said Bill Piwonka, Exterro CMO.