Investment in IT and adoption of innovative cloud services is critical to staying competitive with new entrants to the market and increasing commercialisation, according to Richard Roebuck, managing director of specialist legal IT provider Accesspoint. A recent report compiled by legal IT specialists Accesspoint and secure cloud service provider Databarracks discusses how firms have begun to adopt business practices more typically seen in limited companies.
The report points to the arrival of the Alternative Business Structures (ABS) as the key driver of this change. “As we’ve seen with the banking sector, deregulation has brought innovation, new methods of service delivery and tapped into markets previously not considered. There is no reason why this wouldn’t also be the case with the commercialisation of the legal sector,“ says Roebuck.
“In order to stay competitive in the era of ‘Tesco Law’, as major high street and consumer brands enter the legal market, firms will need to adapt to survive.”
Cloud services will play a central role in this transitional period, Roebuck comments: “Everyone now has access to the same platforms, software systems and online services, regardless of their size or budget. Firms that adopt cloud services will not be at a disadvantage technology-wise against the huge businesses entering the market.
“In fact, it will be the smaller firms that are more process-light that will be best able to squeeze the most functionality from their chosen IT systems, because they can architect an environment and culture rooted in solid best practice. Law firms are experiencing radical change. For a start, they’re no longer in the legal “profession”; they’re in the legal “industry”. The adoption of business led practices is an important step to developing more commercially driven relationships with the IT services that firms use.”
Databarracks’ managing director, Peter Groucutt comments: “This shift started in 2007 with the Legal Services Act allowing the creation of Alterative Business Structures. In 2011, the SRA updated the Code of Conduct and moved to Outcomes Focussed Regulation. The SRA wants to be more hands-off in terms of how it regulates, particularly to be attractive to the Alternative Business Structures. What the SRA is now focussing on with the 2011 changes is ‘good business management’, which is exactly what an ABS is designed to ensure.
“Part of ‘good business management’ is knowing where to focus your efforts, making sure that your IT department is adding value rather than just ‘keeping the lights on’.
“The significant benefits of cloud computing, namely flexibility, cost efficiency and scalability, means that for organisations looking to re-evaluate their existing IT infrastructure, cloud services provide an attractive alternative to onsite IT.”
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