New capabilities in law

The Legal Business 100 always provides useful insights into the legal marketplace. Together with the publication’s Global 100, released earlier in the summer, it provides strong indicators of performance across the legal industry both nationally and internationally. In the UK, we will see if and how Brexit is affecting UK law firm financials (as well the impact of several recent mergers). But figures already released in the Global 100 point to a more buoyant market than expected in this time of economic and political uncertainty, with steady growth among the magic circle and US-driven operations helping to push more law firms over the $2bn revenue mark this year. At Totum, we find the story behind the figures particularly interesting. In our view, the legal market’s confidence has been boosted by the rise of a business services community that has supported the legal profession’s resilience, growth and innovative capabilities.

Research findings

We recently conducted a piece of research, ‘Recruitment trends in law firm business services’, analysing our recruitment statistics from 2015 to 2018. The findings show that business services roles across all functions have increased. Not only that, but over the past three years, we have also made more leadership placements at Board level – many of these roles did not exist just 10 years ago, and it is testament to the role business professionals now play in the running of law firms. In addition, new business services roles and functions have emerged, in areas such as legal operations, transformation, change, technology, data science and product management. Indeed, figures collated to July, show that we have already worked on nearly the same number of operational and change roles in the first half of 2018 as we did for the entirety of 2017. Firms understand the importance of efficiency, flexibility and courage to try new ventures in these uncertain times – and they increasingly value the ability of business services professionals to help them deliver. Our research also indicates that firms are recruiting from a wider talent pool with an increasing number of women and candidates from other sectors being placed in leadership roles.  In 2015/16, 24% of candidates shortlisted by Totum for senior roles were women – in 2017/18 this equivalent figure was 47%; while nearly half (49%) of shortlisted candidates now come from other sectors. These statistics suggest that the legal profession is becoming more attractive to a wider group of candidates who recognise it as a sector offering genuine opportunities for interesting work and advancement.

Impact on law

But what does this all mean in practice for business services professionals? As an example, one of our clients, Allen & Overy (A&O), has won multiple Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Awards over the years, including ‘Most Innovative Law Firm in Europe’ for the fifth time in 2017. Innovations include its Advanced Delivery solutions, including the firm’s legal services centre in Belfast, online services business aosphere, and its consultant lawyer platform Peerpoint. It’s no coincidence to us that the Managing Director of Peerpoint in the UK, whose background is in HR and training technology and business intelligence, has been involved in many of A&O’s innovations in legal services delivery, including setting up the services centre. We have been delighted too to see one of our placements progress in the firm, having placed her as Client Development Manager back in 2011. Last year, she was promoted to the role of Managing Director for Peerpoint across Asia Pacific. Business services professionals have a profound impact on the ability of the legal industry to think differently and grow. More firms now approach us with a new role concept rather than a defined job title – often, they know they want to do something different and appreciate support in scoping out what that means in practice. They are typically looking to bring in new types of skills and experience, and consequently are proving increasingly flexible on the role location, structure and candidates’ background.  This does not make our role easy, but it makes it more interesting. Business services professionals can now enjoy real career development opportunities in law, from entry-level roles (for example, graduates moving straight into pricing assistant and junior analyst roles) right up to board level leadership. And for the legal profession as a whole? This influx of skills and creativity is helping law firms meet the demands of the 21st century with confidence and positivity. To find out how we could help develop your business services career in law, contact [email protected]