Monday 29 May 2017

How Can Conveyancers Avoid a "Kodak Moment"

A director of VC company recently advised me that ‘there are only two types of industry left..those that have been disrupted and those that are ripe for disruption’.  

The legal industry will, sooner or later, witness significant change regardless of how loud the naysayers are. Concluding that because disruption hasn’t happened yet, that it will never happen is a high risk approach.

Simply repeating the statement “It won’t happen to us” again and again did not prevent disruption to newspaper publishers, telephone utilities, stockbrokers, record companies, bookstores, travel agencies and the retailers.

The reason Kodak failed, was not due a lack of corporate strategy (the top brass saw digitisation coming), and nothing to do with poor technology (in 1975 Kodak built one of the first digital cameras and held more patents than it’s competitors). Kodak failed because it was a chemical company and a bureaucracy, filled with people eager to do what they did yesterday.

Like Kodak many of the owners of law firms that I talk to recognise that change will happen but want to hold on to existing processes for as long as possible.

It would be wrong to assume that law firm managers  don't care about doing things better. But overseeing and paying for change for the benefit of the next generation of lawyers  isn't what they signed up for.

Law firms must make sure they are not falling into the same trap as Kodak. There are a number of potentially disruptive developments occurring at present which may have similar effects on firms as digital photography had on Kodak. Rocket Lawyer and other online legal services are just a couple of examples. Since most owners of firms are lacking experience of how to detect and manage disruption they will have to be especially vigilant and prepared to go through one or two false alarms on their way to developing relevant experience.

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