I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a healthy, safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving holiday.
I believe it is especially important at this time of year to not only reflect on our relationships with family and friends, but also the valuable relationships with the coworkers, clients and vendors we relate with on a daily basis.
At Mattern & Associates, we are incredibly blessed to work with such wonderful clients and vendors. Our clients treat us as true partners and we, in turn, treat the vendors we work with the same way to create a win-win situation for all.
Enjoy, and happy Thanksgiving.
More on Driving Value: Does Your Outsourcing Vendor Need a Check-Up?
At this year’s Law Firm Leaders Forum in New York City, Professor Richard Susskind’s keynote challenged the audience to ponder whether the current market conditions were a threat or an opportunity for law firms. One of the main challenges Susskind identified was how to deliver “more for less”. Great opportunities exist to meet this challenge by expanding strategic thinking when it comes to your firm’s expense management decision processes. At Mattern, we have been discussing how to both simultaneously drive top line revenue through the procurement process and focus on expense management—both by driving value from your vendors.
Your firm’s outsourcing contract is a primary opportunity to increase strategic thinking, drive more value, and set your firm up for success in the long term. It could take several months, if not over a year, to analyze, structure, negotiate and implement an outsourcing contract. Your firm may have successfully structured a competitive contract and, after all of that front-loaded work, it may seem acceptable to sit back and wait until contract renewal notification to focus on it again. Even if you meet quarterly with your vendor to review the numbers, your firm might be disappointed with your end result.
In the current market, change is the only constant. Many conditions will shift over time, and your outsourcing services will need to shift as well, while remaining cost effective. The terms and conditions will most likely not remain constant throughout the life of your contract. Possible shifts include:
- Workflow and headcount
- Equipment configuration and utilization
- Review of new or changing technologies
- Changes in supply cost.
You can almost certainly guarantee that your outsourcing vendor will be knocking at your door with an amendment to add equipment or headcount if any of the above items have increased. It is doubtful that your vendor would be as willing to suggest reductions if needed.
To guarantee your outsourcing contract can adjust to fluctuations at the firm, don’t sit back and wait for renewal notifications to kick in. Give your vendor a check-up mid-way through the contract term and put your firm in the driver’s seat.
Record Storage Strategies and Driving Value at ARMA International
The ARMA International Conference, the industry’s premier event in information governance, is currently underway at the gorgeous Venetian Conference Center in Las Vegas. The three-day conference began yesterday, Monday, October 28th, and continues through Wednesday, October 30th. The ARMA International Conference offers comprehensive educational sessions, best of breed technology solutions and cutting-edge best practices in all areas of information governance including records storage strategies.
Mattern & Associates is pleased to have Rob Mattern be selected by the Board of ARMA International as one of the speakers at this year’s Expo. Many of the most exciting recent conference events have been focused on the exciting potential for the law firm future. We have been fortunate to be featured in several of these recent engagements focusing on not just expense reduction strategies, but drilling down into specific areas of law firm operations and defining long term strategies that position these firms for the future.
With advances in technology, records storage strategies is a key area of focus for law firm cost reduction in the immediate term as well as the long term. Firms looking to drive value from their records storage vendors, significantly reduce their permanent withdrawal fees, and/or migrate to electronic storage of paper records must be able to successfully negotiate both the many layers of permissions and rights in record storage as well as hostage fee clauses in their vendor contracts.
Rob will deliver his session, “Mission Possible: Successfully Managing Offsite Records Vendors,” at 9:15 am on Wednesday, and will review the critical pieces to developing a strategic view of offsite records storage, including: driving value from vendors over the lifecycle of the engagement starting from the RFP process, utilizing industry benchmarks to optimize terms and conditions, structuring the agreement to avoid common pitfalls, and finally, managing the contract on an ongoing basis to ensure delivery on that value.
For those of you unable to attend the Conference in Vegas, the presentations will be available online through the ARMA website—or, of course, you can read through some of our client success stories, like this one where Mattern saved Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer nearly 30% in monthly savings: http://matternassoc.com/success_stories.asp?param=2&publication=29&pubnumber=148.
We look forward to continuing the dialogue.
The New Rules of Engagement
One of the industry’s most important forums for the law firm C-suite, the 12th Annual Hildebrandt Institute’s COO CFO Forum begins this Thursday, October 24th at the Westin Hotel Times Square. Designed for high level collaboration between law firm leaders, this year’s program topics range from cost-cutting strategies to law firm growth investment and will cover pricing strategies, talent management, and work process transformation, and will feature the results of the 1st Annual Thomson Reuter’s Survey identifying evolving roles of the law firm COO and CFO.
Rob Mattern will lead the COO CFO Forum’s Friday agenda at 8am with a breakfast workshop discussion delivering clear strategies on how law firms can drive value now and best position themselves for the next decade through optimizing their back office structures both financially and operationally.
When it comes to overhead cost management, according to the 2012 Altman Weil Survey, law firm leaders halved their efforts in 2013 in comparison to the 2012 survey results while it is clear that firms still face very concrete perils of both this internal drag and concomitant slack in overhead cost management. Mattern will outline how to perform best in these areas and establish ‘new rules of engagement,’ delineating how to specifically:
- Drive more value from your vendors
- Uncover efficiencies in your back office operations
- The impact of cost recovery strategies
- What key values and outcomes to consider in your outsourcing decisions
- What to look for in a consultancy
Mattern & Associates is a year over year sponsor of and presenter at the COO CFO Forum; we believe strongly in the power of collaboration and are proud to meaningfully contribute to such key events that will move the profession forward into the future. We think the time is ripe with opportunities in the new legal market to exceed challenges and create true difference and value in the delivery of legal services—and that difference and value brings the importance of the back office to the front.
We hope to see you in New York this Thursday and Friday, and especially at Rob’s session on Friday morning.
To download the 12th Annual COO CFO Forum brochure, click here.
Notes from the Future
Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Futures Conference hosted by the College of Law Practice Management. It was the first time Mattern & Associates sponsored the conference, and it won’t be the last.
One of the most engaging talks I attended was the keynote presentation by Stephen Mayson, Director and Professor of Strategy of The Legal Services Institute based in London.
The main point of Stephen’s discussion was the broken legal business model and how the UK has taken some steps to repair it. He based his talk on the following four points:
- The legal industry has lost track on how to create value for clients. He blamed this mostly on the principle of billing for time instead of the value created.
- There has not been enough innovation by lawyers on to how source legal services. He cited numerous examples of how in the UK, “legal services” are being provided by “non-lawyers” under alternative business licensing structures—and, in accordance with the new regulations, only 20% of the sum total of legal services must necessarily be provided by lawyers—the other 80% is up for grabs.
- In the UK, law firms are now able to be owned and financed by non-lawyers. This has created an opportunity for current non-lawyer employees of the firms in addition to corporations who want to invest and own the legal entities that are completing their legal transactions. As you can imagine, this second scenario may create some interesting conflicts.
- Under the current compensation model, law firms have been paid too much, too quickly for the wrong things.
Not being a lawyer but a buyer of legal services, I can see the validity of point number 1 which is a factor in alternative fee discussions. Points number 2 and 3 give way to opportunities for both legal and non-legal entities as well as healthy competition.
Point number 4 additionally emphasizes the need for law firms to embrace alternative fee models and cost recovery methods. But as Mayson also discussed, the idea of ‘alternative’ is problematic. Labeling these methods as ‘alternative’ or ‘outside’ makes them seem lesser or outside of the norm—which, Mayson claims, is not what the future holds. In fact, the ones that will, are the ones that will be successful in the future.
All very interesting food for thought.