Agility for Professional Service Firms
The LawyerlinQ Model
‘Agile’ is today’s buzzword. Pressured by the market’s increasing dynamism, companies have apparently made agile the new norm for organizational planning. But how does this affect law firms and legal departments? These organizations primarily use human capital and years’ worth of accumulated knowledge. Vested in employment relations that you cannot simply switch on or off at a moment’s notice. What’s more, the above organizations traditionally derive a large part of their identity and ‘company pride’ from the notion that their work can only be done by their very own permanent employees.
Agility = flexibility + speed
Due to their nature, professional service organizations can only increase their agility by becoming more flexible in the way their work is sourced and by learning how to quickly gear up and down. This requires more than just using their ‘own people’, and hiring the occasional temp worker for a few months will not cut it either.
Currently, several frontrunners in international consultancy and advocacy, including PWC, Berwin Leighton Paisner and Allen & Overy, are showing that an alternative approach to sourcing contributes to their success and market position. In the Netherlands, the firm of De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek sets a good example. These success stories have sparked a change in the way professional service firms think about staffing.
‘Flex’ on the agenda
As a result, ‘flexibilisation’ can be found on the agendas of numerous management teams and board meetings. The manager and staff organization are thus faced with increasing pressure to quickly come up with a tested, risk-free model that enables the organization to more quickly and efficiently respond to changes and developments in the demand for staffing-based capacity and knowledge. But where does one start? What is the best approach? Published best practices are still unavailable and the first initiatives therefore often proceed the hard way, ‘boiling the ocean’.
Roadmap to agility
The Professional Services Flexibility Maturity Model offers a framework to evaluate how flexible you are as a professional service organization. Moreover, it helps you determine follow-up steps that you could take to increase the agility of the knowledge and human capital that you can have at your disposal.
The Model describes 5 phases and the features that define them. Substantively it was developed based on interviews with Dutch managing partners of large (international) law firms and with legal managers of multinational corporations based in the Netherlands. Furthermore, an analysis has been made of the developments in the creative and IT industries, which provide a good indication of what awaits us in professional services.
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