Wednesday, January 8, 2014

New Year's Risk Resolution #2: More Intelligent New Business Intake

Industry consultant Mike Lowe wrote in with a prudent suggestion for New Year's Risk Resolution #2 -- Take a more intelligent approach to new business intake. His article on intake was just published by ILTA in its white paper on business and financial management. You can read more on his blog. Here are some highlights:
  • "I feel for you, new business intake professional. Standing between partners and their potential revenue is like standing between a grizzly and her cubs. You cannot possibly assess and approve matters quickly enough, nor can you ask too few questions to do so. And yet your firm, your clients and the legal landscape are growing more complex, increasing the risks you are responsible for managing...Competitive pressures are generating a larger range of alternative deal structures that must be approved and accommodated in downstream processes."
  • "It’s time to assess whether your current NBI capability is appropriate for a modern law firm. Firms find that improving their NBI results in reduced risk, increased revenue and happier
    attorneys. And, at long last, technology has developed to the point where it can enable whatever operating model works best for your firm’s strategy and culture."
He outlines several recommendations, including the always-key-to-effective-risk-management: "avoid denial" --
  • "Recognize the reality of how attorneys work while designing your capability... Support attorneys with analysis. Firms can differ in how much they centralize decision-making. However, for even the most decentralized firms, provide a core group of professional staff to support attorney decisions with analysis. Searching and data analysis are tasks done better and cheaper with trained staff. Attorneys don’t want raw data, they want recommendations."
While he notes that technology alone won't solve intake irritations, without revisiting policy and process, he calls out the promise of advanced intake-focused software that offers lawyers the user experience, analysis and responsiveness they're looking for, while enabling firms to address modern risk and business management demands --
  • "A new technology will not be the magic bullet that fixes a broken NBI function. You need to look at all the interacting components that together build a capability: policy, process, technology and people. Configure the technology to fit your business, not vice-versa."
  • "[software] specifically designed for law firms that aim to go beyond workflow tools in their out-of-the box usability, features (e.g., reporting, auditing, notifications) and flexibility."
In 2013 we saw a number of firms adopt this modern approach to new business intake, and expect the trend to continue as more fulfill their own Risk Resolutions.

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