Law 2.0: Running a Law Firm Like a Software Business


Originally published in the July/August issue of Legal Management, a publication of the ALA.

It is commonly said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Unless, however, what almost kills you also happens to transform your environment and you’re left bewildered, trying to figure out how to regroup and what first steps to take.

Not only did the economic downturn of 2008 and 2009 machete revenues at law firms, but it also fostered long-fermenting industry changes. Cost-conscious clients now force firms to offer alternative fee arrangements, calling into question the time and place of the traditional billable hour. Legal Process Outsourcing (LPO) and consumer access to do-it-yourself legal services add commoditization pressure to segments of the legal market.

So as you look around at the bleak, smoldering landscape through which you must shepherd your firm, why not draw on some of the lessons of an entirely different vertical?

Like legal, the software industry is a highly collaborative, mission critical, can’t-afford-an-error type of business. Delivering tremendously complex technology products to market on time, on budget, and without catasrophic bugs is a tough nut to crack. To combat these challenges, software development processes and methologies evolved over time to reduce both risk and cost as well as eliminate inefficiencies.

Learning all the fine points of running a software business is a full-time job for software people, let alone lawyers. But the following tidbits are simple, actionable tips law firms can learn from the hard-wrought experience of the high-tech world.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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