The law firm of the future

June 20, 2022
5 min
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Home office, digital collaboration, remote leadership, client:inside consultation via video chat: overnight, law firms have had to reorganise themselves due to the pandemic. The demands have never been higher, but at the same time so have the opportunities and potentials.

The report "#Zukunftskanzlei reloaded" looks at the challenges and opportunities in 2022 and describes what the law firm of the future will look like. We have taken a look at the report and summarised the most important facts for you.

Even before the pandemic, the challenges facing the industry were manifold: a shortage of skilled workers, digital transformation, automation and the change in values and norms shaped the new world of work. At the latest in and through the pandemic, law firms became systemically relevant and clearly felt the economic consequences of the virus.

The law firm industry, which is often still analog, first wanted to get to grips with the digital transformation, but there was no time for this in the past two years. That's why it's now time to act and react to the current circumstances and take advantage of opportunities. Because one thing is certain: digitization is here to stay.

"If you're not open to change, you'll end up needing outside pressure - and it will come."
-Sarah Klinkhammer, tax assistant and digitalization manager at Dortmund-based tax consultancy Dieckhöfer & Partner.

Collaboration instead of Lone Wolf

In the 21st century, the entire world is globally connected. We exchange information via messenger services and communicate via web platforms. Whether telephone, video calls or online meetings: the call for simple but efficient digital communication is getting louder and louder. At the same time, it is particularly important for law firms to work collaboratively. The networking of law firms with other law firms, clients, specialists and partners is of great importance to 92% of those surveyed.

Many law firms are still lagging behind in the implementation of their networking plans. Yet there are already collaboration platforms on the market that allow teams, law firms and clients to communicate, work together and share information on a single platform.

Digital collaboration is essential for a law firm of the future: With a cloud-based platform, you can securely exchange information and data, manage projects and documents, and communicate with your clients and employees.

Trust as the key to success

The be-all and end-all of every law firm is - and always will be - client:inside service. For around 86% of the respondents, virtual consulting also plays a central role. Tax advisors will change from reactive service providers to active, personal, holistic advisors. New technologies can also be used for consulting. This will change the relationships with clients and the job profiles in the firms, but change is not a negative thing.

It is important to create an environment in which customers feel comfortable. Keyword: Trust and security! Kanzelein must rely on highly secure and encrypted software that allows them to upload, process and exchange sensitive data in compliance with data protection regulations. Emails are out, smart collaboration and communication tools are in!

"I use digitization to simplify and optimize processes, for the benefit of consulting."
‍- Henning Blank, self-employed tax consultant and auditor as well as board member of the Chamber of Tax Consultants of North Baden.

Use resources wisely

Anyone who says "you don't talk about money" is wrong. Therefore, we now come to the last point that plays a driving force for all involved: the dear money. The question is not where you can save money, but where you can save time. Because: time is the true currency. Digital processes and shortened work paths help law firms in their day-to-day business not to go the unnecessary extra mile and instead to use the resources gained sensibly and effectively.

95% of respondents say that the establishment of a central data structure is an important topic in order to work efficiently and in a resource-saving manner. Extensive digitisation of the law firm sector is necessary and the next step towards the future. Print documents are digitised with the help of software tools and in so-called collaboration suites you can track the productivity and performance of your employees and analyse where you are losing time and money.

The future of law firms

As mentioned at the beginning, it often takes drastic events for something to change. The past two years have been formative, for the entire industry and its employees. But could the timing be better?
Digitalisation has come faster than we thought and poses great challenges, but now is exactly the time to seize the opportunities. So how can you also become the law firm of the future and at the same time help shape the future of law firms?

Find out what your firm's and your employees' needs are and evaluate where you want to start. Test different tools and finally choose the one that you feel comfortable with and that offers you the greatest cost-benefit.Don't see change as a threat, but be a pioneer and thought leader and actively shape the future.

You can read the entire report "Initiative Kanzlei der Zukunft: #Zukunftskanzlei reloaded - So hat die Pandemie das Zukunftsbild verändert" here.

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