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Commoditisation ‘the 666 for BigLaw’

'Tomorrow's lawyers will be problem finders,' says Reena Sengupta 

23 June 2014

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Standardisation and commoditisation of legal work is "the 666 for big law firms", Reena Sengupta has said.

Speaking at the Reinvent Law London conference last week, the legal consultant argued that most big law firms have accepted the need to change, but few have re-engineered their processes effectively.

"Big law firms want to do bespoke work, get blank cheques and provide brilliant client service," she said.

"They view efficiency and processes as boring. It is considered sexier to plant new flags."

Optimism has returned about growth prospects and many firms are now focusing on opening new offices abroad. But, Sengupta warned against growth for growth's sake.

Citing the example of South Korea, in which there are more than 20 foreign law firms, she asked: "How much premium legal work is there really to go around? How many Samsungs are there in that market?"

In future, big law firms will need to take a more proactive approach to legal services, she argued. They should be similar to in-house counsel, who predict and pre-empt problems for their internal clients.

"Problem solvers are yesterday's lawyers. Tomorrow's lawyers will be problem finders - they will predict and prevent problems from happening," said Sengupta.

She added that 80 per cent of the market share of private practice lawyers has been lost to their clients in recent years.

"Law firms need to look outside for inspiration and take a broad look at the world," concluded Sengupta. "They need to re-bundle, re-engineer and reinvent themselves."



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