Thursday, July 19, 2012
UK consultant says most lawyers today don't have the right skills to service corporate clients effectively
The head of Riverview Law, a UK-based legal services provider and consultant, told an audience in Manchester, England attending a symposium on legal education and training that he wouldn't employ most lawyers on the market today because they don't have the right skill set. To effectively service corporate clients, Karl Chapman told attendees that "legal competence is only part of the picture." Attorneys must also possess a range of management and analytical skills that have more to do with providing economic value to the client in the context of managing large, costly legal issues than practicing law per se (this is also consistent with Richard Susskind's predictions for the future of corporate law practice).
From the blog LegalFutures:
Speaking at last week’s Legal Education and Training Review Symposium in Manchester, Karl Chapman – chief executive of Riverview Law – said he would not employ many lawyers currently available because they do not have the right skills. “They cannot do what’s required in a customer service environment,” he explained.
Riverview is creating a host of new roles – all of which he said need some degree of legal knowledge – such as project managers, scoping and pricing analysts, management information and data analysts, knowledge management specialists and client managers. “Some of best people we’ve got are senior lawyers doing legal workflow and process analysis,” he added.
However, “legal competence is only part of the picture” – clients need to know what to do with the advice to give it any value.
His view was backed up by James Atkin, head of legal, risk and compliance at CLS, who predicted that alternative business structures (ABSs) in particular are “likely to employ and train specific skills for specific elements of client interaction and service delivery, including behavioural as well as technical skills”; while some roles will require detailed legal knowledge, others “will demand a broad but relatively modest knowledge of a large number of legal areas”.
“This isn’t to say career development opportunities will be limited. There will be a greater range of roles, opportunities to move between them, internal training opportunities, more ‘on the job’ training, and opportunities to manage teams which perform them. It ought to be easier to get a first foot on the ladder without having a qualifying law degree, post-degree qualification and training contract or equivalent.”
Mr Atkin said legal services roles will increasingly focus on limited aspects of the customer or operational journey, such as advice, sales, operations, audit and reporting. “Some roles in larger providers will have very little or nothing to do with law, and more to do with risk management, project management, technological solutions and pure service considerations.”