By Doug Striker
The law industry is facing a giant image crisis. Simply put: clients don’t trust us! While this may not be all that new, it certainly took a turn for the worse after 2008. Prior to 2008, law firms held all the aces when it came to their relationships with clients. They charged mysterious fees, didn’t feel like they had to be all that accountable with their billing, and gave clients the impression that they were lucky to be represented by the firm at all.
Then 2008 happened and that relationship shifted considerably. Hundreds of law firms folded and clients became extremely vigilant of every dollar they spent. The result: law firms are competing harder than ever for clients and those clients have the aces. Namely, they are demanding accountability from their law firm partners. Clients expect more bang for their buck and they want proof that they are getting good value for the money they spend.
But how does a law firm prove that it’s delivering value? The practice of law is a fundamentally cerebral practice, right? The best legal minds are… MINDS. Law is a THINKING practice and how do you quantify whether someone is thinking efficiently?
Well, that’s not exactly the right approach to the problem. Yes, clients want to be sure that their attorneys understand the law and are adept thinkers, but so much of law work today is in the production process: producing products around that thinking! (Briefs, trial documents, contracts, etc.) And there are myriad ways to quantify the results of the production process.
When a law firm can prove to clients that its production process is efficient, clients will gain trust in their work and the bills they are paying.
This win/win result is the reason I became an early member of LTC4, or the Legal Technology Core Competencies Certification Coalition. I believe that law firms, attorneys and law staff around the world should agree to a set of certification standards that prove to their clients that they are working efficiently. As the LTC4 website explains: “When a firm states that its attorneys and staff are certified in a set of industry standard, law-firm-approved core competencies, clients are assured that their chosen law firm has the most suitable skill set for handling their complex matters dependably and professionally.”
How does it work? Read the following from their website:
LTC4 is a non-profit organization that has established legal technology core competencies and certification that all law firms can use to measure ongoing efficiency improvements.
Our purpose is to maintain a set of legal technology core competencies and certification that:
- Are workflow-based (as opposed to feature-based)
- Offer a positive environment
- Are sufficiently flexible for firms to use in the way which suits them (incorporating their own best practices).
- Allow for any training or testing method
Two target audiences: Attorneys and Support Staff
The attorney core competencies and certification have been developed to provide the skills necessary to address their professional responsibility to the firm and clients to create/oversee quality work product, avoid risk, and maintain confidentiality and compliance.
The staff core competencies and certification have been developed to provide the skills necessary to support firm attorneys and clients to create efficient quality work product and enable the firm to measure staff proficiency to ensure firms goals are being achieved.
The benefits of LTC4 are a gift that keeps on giving. When a firm decides to follow the LTC4 learning paths, not only are they going to achieve increased efficiencies (which will improve their bottom line), but they can use the certification as a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Whether you’re in a competitive RFP process or enjoying a lunch with a prospective client, imagine the advantages of saying, “We’re certified efficient by a nonprofit international consortium of law firms, law schools and law departments. When you work with us, you can be assured that we are maximizing every dollar you spend.”
But don’t take my word for it. Look at the list of member firms that have already joined and are already completing LTC4 certification requirements. (Boy, I hope you don’t see your competition on the list!)
Doug Striker is Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Savvy Training & Consulting, a provider of legal software training solutions. As a former Chief Operating Officer of a prominent law firm, he specializes in helping firms acquire the software platforms they need, training staff for maximum workflow efficiency, and enhancing continuity and bottom-line results.