Almost half of legal managers (47 per cent) report that they are ill-prepared to contend with the numerous changes in the legal landscape ranging from increased competition and price pressures to emerging technology, according to research conducted by the Australasian Legal Practice Managers Association (ALPMA) and leading legal content and technology provider, LexisNexis Pacific.s

However, Managing Partners and legal practice managers with foresight are stepping up and harnessing the perfect storm of events that are transforming the legal industry.

'The majority of our responding members (63 per cent) are confident that they have the leadership needed to re-shape and re-position their firms to take advantage of the 'new normal'", says Warrick McLean, President of ALPMA and General Manager of Coleman Greig Lawyers.

'These firms demonstrate an increasingly sophisticated appreciation of sales and marketing, heralding the end of an over-reliance on rain-makers for revenue growth. Firms are realising that an investment in people and processes will deliver a measurable return.'

Managing Partners and legal practice managers are being asked step-up and respond to what is significant and permanent structural change.

ALPMA members report an industry precariously balancing the urgent need for enterprise and innovation with an entrenched aversion to risk.

Over a third of respondents (37 per cent) were concerned or unsure about the ability of their firm's leadership to navigate these choppy waters.

When respondents were asked to comment about what steps they would take to address change, they listed partner shake ups and change in senior management as critical in moving forward followed by the need for more emphasis on niche services and client focus.

Conversely, a lack of partner buy-in and management's slow response to change were identified as the two most significant barriers to embedding confidence and securing a commitment to change.

"The traditional partner role has evolved to one of leader and innovator in firms that aim to take on the 'new normal'", explains James Parker, Executive Manager, Practice Management of LexisNexis Pacific. "Globally, the profession is undergoing unprecedented structural change."

"Managing Partners and legal practice managers are being asked step-up and respond to what is significant and permanent structural change. Law firm leaders must develop strategies that will allow them to re-shape and re-position themselves for success — and bring their team along with them on this challenging journey," says Parker.

"It is no surprise that legal leadership is finding the demands of the changing environment challenging, and whilst the survey's findings were worrying in some areas, it is also encouraging that most of our members are endeavouring to proactively respond to the challenge. The industry experts that we are bringing together for the ALPMA National Summit in Sydney on October 18-19 will help equip legal management professionals to lead the 'new normal'", says Mr McLean.

The ALPMA/LexisNexis research investigated the impact of change on the Australasian legal profession, including how firms have responded to date, what firms plan to do in the next 12 months, and how prepared the legal industry is to survive and thrive under these new conditions.

121 respondents from law firms across Australia and New Zealand participated in the research, conducted via on-line survey in August, 2013.

The full report will be available from LexisNexis at the ALPMA National Summit 'Law Firm 3.0 — Leading the New Normal' from 18-19 October a the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre.

Media Contacts

Kelsey Halseth
Public Relations Manager, LexisNexis Pacific
Tel: +61 2 9422 2036

Nicki Hauser
Marketing & BD Manager, ALPMA
Tel: 0410 439276

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