A changing legal landscape

One of the great things about working in PR is that we get to work across a number of different sectors; no two days are ever the same. With this comes the benefit of gaining a greater insight into diverse marketplaces that you would perhaps otherwise know nothing about.

We have managed projects for a number of businesses working within the legal sector and I have to admit that this is one of the most exciting sectors to be involved with from a communications perspective. Not only have there been irrevocable changes to the sector, which will see a complete overhaul of the legal landscape, but a new breed of business has launched which means that firms can be owned and run by entrepreneurs as opposed to solicitors and practiced legal experts.

The Legal Services Act of 2007, the alternative business structures, changed everything. It liberalised the legal market and allowed those with the right business acumen to see the benefits to doing things differently.

Admittedly, as with any significant change there was some heartache, with the downfall of a number of leading practices – others recognised the benefit to investing in the future and chose to merge, creating new business led models that would give them a more sustainable outlook.

The more exciting side to these changes are the opening of the market to a new way of working – law is becoming accessible and affordable. There are a number of companies that are now offering fixed fee services. This also gives traditional firms the chance to look at their business and shake it up – there’s no point in believing that things will stay the same, after all they have already started to change.

What I would get really giddy about if I worked in the legal sector is the opportunities that this brings for legal experts to provide comment and opinion. The changes won’t happen overnight and everyone will have their thoughts – so why not share them?

Good or bad it is time that legal firms stood up to be counted. If you prefer a traditional model then explain why but if you are all for embracing new ways of working then again, let your customers know why and what you intend to do to stay ahead of the market.

It is also a great time for these companies to start blogging, Vlogging and using social media tools to share their thoughts and ideas. What better time to engage with customers; let them know what is going on and what it will mean to the practice, share good news and ask their opinions.

There is still a very real position for a market leader when it comes to communication in the legal sector; it appears that as no one has challenged the way things have been done in the past, it has been left to chance that people will choose a firm based on reputation that is driven by nothing more than fee income.

With change always comes worry but for those practices that want to plan ahead and take hold of the metaphorical bull by the horns then this is the time to do it. I for one will be very interested to see who leads the pack and which firms are the next to hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons because they didn’t see the value in embracing change.