Big Story
Eric Chin, Rajesh Sreenivasan, Hanim Hamzah

近年来,为了与“四大”会计师事务所旗下的跨界律所等竞争,律师事务所也开始计划进军非法律服务领域,而新冠疫情更加速了这一趋势。不过专家们建议律所在进行“跨界”之旅时应仔细筹划,并制定好战略。

 

根据您的经验,您认为哪些非法律服务领域最适合希望尝试跨界业务的律师事务所?

Eric Chin,执行董事,Alpha Creates

一些律师事务所已经开始在法律领域之外提供多元化服务。关于非法律服务,律所通常有两种思路:(1)法律服务需求的“创造者”;(2)法律服务增强工具。法律服务需求的“创造者”实质上是上游服务,例如:业务咨询、法律运营咨询、技术咨询、企业咨询、辩护和商业咨询,以及基础设施咨询服务等。这些工作领域起到先导作用,通过提供服务,引导潜在的法律业务流向律师事务所。而法律服务增强工具则包括例如风险咨询、合规、公司治理、法证和技术服务,以及税务咨询服务,这些能够进一步增强律所为客户提供的法律服务。这与“四大”会计师事务所通过多年的跨界实践所布局的策略相同。但总而言之,律所如何执行非法律领域服务,以及如何将法律及非法律领域服务进行交叉销售,这才是成功的关键。以下是一些注意事项:

  • 重新评估用于管理非法律领域服务的关键绩效指标(KPI)。律所往往划分出单独的实体来经营其非法律领域业务,原因是用于管理法律业务的KPI与用于管理非法律业务的KPI不同,这些不同包括计费目标、杠杆比率、技术和流程的使用等;
  • 设立引荐客户的共享利润机制,以此鼓励交叉销售;
    • 营造全新的律所文化,鼓励律师跳出法律领域进行思考(这本身就是种挑战),与非法律业务部门合作,为客户提供全方位的问题解决方案。

Rajesh Sreenivasan,科技、媒体与电信部主管,立杰律师事务所

如果律师事务所希望通过在非法律服务领域开展业务(例如法律科技业务)来扩大其核心专业领域,他们应该考虑,这些业务能够为律所及其客户带来哪些类型的协同效应和价值。例如,对于一家专门从事公司事务的律师事务所而言,投资电子证据开示和数字取证解决方案可能价值不大。关键诀窍在于找到适合的配搭方案,从而产生正确的协同作用。例如,一家拥有强大争议解决部门的律所可以考虑投资电子证据开示解决方案,这样一来,既可以处理更多的复杂争议,又可以为客户实现更高的成本效益。再举一个例子,如果一家律所想要深化其调查领域的业务,那么法证业务应该是适合的选择。

同时,我希望所有律师和律师事务所都要牢记一点:运用法律科技不是军备竞赛。不要因为其他人都在这样做就要想办法赶上潮流——请记住,律师事务所并非都具有静态的同质工作流,你要选择适合自己的法律科技,这样才能基于律所特质扩展业务。我还想提醒律师们考虑自身的需求,做好功课(了解市场上既存的解决方案),权衡自己的选择,了解新技术的局限性(例如,到目前为止,人工智能还远远不够完善),考虑如何平衡在采用新技术时所花费的时间、成本和精力,从而最终选择适合自己的法律科技手段,帮助他们在现阶段和将来扩展和改进其法律工作流程,进而为律所及其客户带来更高的效益和价值。

Hanim Hamzah,区域管理合伙人,智阔法律服务网络

几年前,为了智阔控股(ZICO Holdings)上市,我们将一些非核心法律服务分拆到了不同的子公司。这一举动背后的推动力实际上是保持竞争力,从而继续为客户提供价值。我们意识到,有些非核心法律服务虽然与法律密切相关,但如果放到其他业务体系下,其表现会更好,这样我们的律所也能将业务重点放在提供高价值的战略性法律咨询上。

随着法律行业竞争格局不断变化,我们也需要改变自身经营方式;与此同时,客户也在变化:法务团队的内部预算发生了变化,他们不再把所有法律支出都分配给律师事务所。对于不同的法律需求,他们会选择不同的服务提供商,而这种选择背后主要的驱动因素就是价格。因此,作为一家律师事务所,我们必须重新审视自己的战略,专注于我们最擅长的领域;我们需要使用律所提供核心的高价值法律服务,并把其他方面的业务(例如可以商品化的法律服务)单独放在其他业务体系下运营。其他业务体系下的公司拥有不同的资本结构,也更加灵活,它们没必要像律师事务所那样拥有高端办公地点、舒适的办公室和会议室。我们的非法律、但与法律紧密相关的服务可以在其他经营场所开展,并按照不同的定价结构收费。总而言之,最重要的是与客户保持密切联系,并为客户提供最能满足其需求的解决方案。无论采用哪种结构,保持优质的服务同时又不“稀释”整体品牌价值,这才是关键。


Going Beyond the Law

The recent push to compete with multi-disciplinary firms like the Big Four has resulted in law firms planning their own forays into non-law services, and the pandemic has only accelerated that trend. However, experts feel that firms should consider their strategies carefully.

 

BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE SO FAR, WHAT KIND OF NON-LAW SERVICES MAKE THE BEST FIT FOR LAW FIRMS LOOKING BEYOND THEIR CORE AREAS OF EXPERTISE?

ERIC CHIN, principal, Alpha Creates

Some law firms are starting to diversify their services outside of the legal industry. There are two ways firms are thinking about non-law services: (1) Legal service generators, (2) Legal service enhancers. Legal service generators are essentially upstream services like business consulting, legal operations consulting, technology consulting, corporate advisory, infrastructure consulting, defence and commercial advisory and infrastructure consulting services. These are areas of work that are the tip of the spear that would generate potential flow of legal work to the law firm from services provided. Then there are also legal service enhancers like risk advisory, compliance, corporate governance, forensic and technology services, and tax consulting services that enhance the legal service provided to clients. It’s the same strategy that the Big Four accounting firms have mastered through years of building multidisciplinary practices. Ultimately, how firms execute their non-law services and cross-sell into their legal practice will be the key determinant of success. Some considerations include:

  • Reassessing the key performance indicators (KPIs) used to manage the non-law services. Firms have carved out the non-law practices as separate entities because the KPIs required to manage a legal practice is different to the KPIs required to manage non-law practices (such as billable targets, leverage ratio, use of technology and processes);
  • Developing a mechanism to encourage cross-selling through the sharing of profit from client introductions; and
  • Building a culture within the firm that encourages lawyers to think outside of their own legal domain (which is already a challenge) to work with the non-law services towards a coordinated client approach

RAJESH SREENIVASAN, head of TMT, Rajah & Tann Singapore

Law firms seeking non-law services (such as legal technology service lines) to augment their core areas of expertise should always think of the types of synergy and value that the non-law service can bring to the firm and its clients. A law firm specialising in corporate matters may find little value in investing in e-discovery and digital forensics solutions. The trick is to find the right fit that would create the right synergy. For example, a firm that has a strong dispute resolution arm may well wish to invest in e-discovery solutions, so that it can both handle a larger volume of complex disputes, while achieving higher cost-efficiency for clients. Another example would be a firm that is seeking to deepen its investigations practice — a forensics arm would appear to be a right fit. At the same time, I would urge all lawyers and law firms to bear in mind that the adoption of legaltech is not an arms-race. Don’t jump on the bandwagon just because everyone else appears to be doing so – remember always that law firms do not all have a static homogenous workflow and so your specific legaltech journey should augment the nature of your practice. I would urge lawyers to think through their needs, do their homework (learn about the solutions on the market), weigh their options, understand the limitations of new technologies (for example, artificial intelligence is far from perfect today), consider their trade-offs in terms of time, cost and effort to adopt new technologies, so that they can ultimately choose the right technology that will help them augment and amplify their existing legal work-flow today and into the future, and bring greater efficiency and value to their firms and their clients.

HANIM HAMZAH, regional managing partner, ZICO Law Network

At ZICO, we unbundled some of our non-core legal services and put these in different subsidiaries in order to list ZICO Holdings a couple of years ago. The driver behind that was really to remain competitive, to be able to continue to provide value to our clients. We realised there were non-core legal services, very closely related to legal, which would perform better under different umbrellas, rather than under the law firm because we wanted to focus the law firm on providing high-value strategic legal advice. And with the changing competitive landscape of the legal industry there is a need to also change the way we do business. The client has changed as well; the in-house budget has changed, not all of their legal spending is allocated to law firms. They have different providers and different solutions for their legal needs, driven mainly by price. Because of this, as a law firm we had to look at our strategy and concentrate on what we do best. As a law firm, we had to provide core high-value legal services, and for the other parts — legal services that can be commoditised — that can then be done in a separate umbrella. Those companies then have different capital structure and they’re more agile, because law firms typically need a good address, and a comfortable office and meeting rooms. But for other types of services, that are not core legal, but are related, those can be done out of alternative premises and with different types of pricing structures. At the end of the day, what is important is staying close to the client and delivering solutions that best meet the needs of the client. Whichever structures used, maintaining excellent services without diluting overall brand value is key.

 

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