There seems to be universal acceptance that the business model of law firms is broken or needs to be broken (depending on your point of view). But not much has been said about the service model. True – Legal Project Management (LPM) is touted as an effective tool for bringing efficiency and effectiveness to law firms, but from what I have seen LPM is focused on the current model for providing services.
Two conversations following my post on Re-thinking Expenses lead to me a new line of thinking. My comment about “re-tooling and modifying the production process” for automakers was the genesis for this. Many conversations about law firms in the past have included the observation that a lawyer from 1980 could be dropped into today’s firm and function fairly well. They would need to learn email and on-line legal research, but the other basic functions are the same.
Imagine an auto worker in the same scenario. Now you see my point.
Law firms also need to re-think the service model. LPM will help law firms be more efficient, doing things the same basic way. LPM can squeeze out a better margin from the existing service model, but it will not be disruptive and change the approach.
As I see it LPM is critical and necessary in the short-run. But the long-run will need to see some disruptive technologies and new service models. Doing things the same way, only better, will work for a while. But the real game-changers will come when new service models emerge.