Era of The Entrepreneur – Legal Futures Conference Summary

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Last week we had the privilege of attending a conference from Legal Futures. Theme of the conference was around ABS (Alternate Business Structure) and how it is fuelling the innovation in the legal industry. Conference was chaired by the editor of Legal Futures, Neil Rose.

In case you do not know it already, ABS stands of Alternate Business Structure. ABS allows non lawyers (Such as investors, accountants etc.) to own or invest in law firms, subject to regulatory approval granted by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council of Licensed Conveyancers – according to this article from the Guardian.

In his opening note at the conference, Neil shared that around 400 firms have got ABS licences and 85% of the firms which got ABS licences have 10 or less partners. ABS is also acquired by big accountancy firms such as KPMG. It has also allowed private equity firms such as Root Capital to invest in law firms. Main theme of the conference was to discuss implications of this external investment in the law firms and how it is changing the industry.

After the opening note from Neil, next item in the agenda was panel discussion on a very interesting topic – Does it take non-lawyers to change the market?

Some of the main highlights of this panel discussion were – - Consumers of legal services are getting more and more knowledgable and powerful. They shop around more. As a result, law firms need to change the way they deal with the customers. – Eddie Rose from Quality Solicitors mentioned that if firms join QS, they should expect to change the way law practices are handled. – Chris Marston (CEO of LawNet) and Eddie, both of them were of the opinion that lawyers should focus on the delivery and other aspects of the business should be handled by people who are good at it. – George Bull (National Chair of Professional Practice Group, Baker Tilly) said that partnerships are important, but any partnership should consider following four factors – Purpose, Strategy, Model and Structure. – Chris Marston mentioned that measuring client satisfaction is crucial, as customers will continue to become more and more powerful.

- Eddie Ross mentioned that customers can and will change the market.

From this session, it became clear to me that one of the main focus for law firms in future would be the focus on customer service. Eddie Rose gave a great analogy that when people fly, they do not look for the specification of the aeroplane itself – they look for the service and experience.

Chris mentioned that designing new services is a capital intensive operations – from capabilities to marketing those capabilities, everything need cash. This is where ABS can help law firms with the cash or expertise.

After the end of first session, it was clear that market for legal services is undergoing a major change. Focus is shifting towards customer service and consumer is becoming more and more powerful. A good change in my opinion. This panel discussion was followed by the presentation from Simon Phillips of Root Capital and William Robins from Keystone Lawyers. Keystone Lawyers took external investment from Root Capital sometime back. Simon and William shared their views on deal and why this deal was important. 

Slides from this talk can be found at

These two sessions provided enough food for the mind and discussion continued on the future of law practices during coffee break. It was great to hear first hand experience from many prominent practitioners and how they are shaping law industry. Next session at the conference was a panel discussion based on the report from Legal Services Consumer Panel.Andy Foster from the panel mentioned that Legal market in 2020 would be very different from the legal market of today and primary factor for this change would be technology.

During his talk, Andy mentioned capabilities of Watson from IBM and it’s ability to process natural languages. Ability to process natural languages is important because 80% of our data is unstructured, comprised of natural languages. It was amazing to see what a super computer can do with the ability to process this unstructured data reliably. Report Andy mentioned in his talk can be found here. This talk was followed by a panel discussion and it was highlighted that law services are still out of reach for majority of individuals and businesses. Individuals and businesses, still try and avoid taking legal services as much as they can. Craig holt from the Quality Solicitor mentioned that it’s important to make legal services accessible to everyone.

Panel discussion reiterated that consumer is becoming more and more knowledgable and informed consumer will drive change

It was predicted that technology will change the way legal services are delivered

After this presentation and small presentation from the sponsors of this conference, Jon Whittle from LexisNexis took the stage to talk about The new entrepreneurs. One of the striking thing from his talk was

Jon’s talk was followed by the panel discussion on the same topic with George Bisnought (Managing Director, Excello Law), Alex Hamilton (CEO, Radiant Law) and Dana Denis Smith (Chief Executive, Obelisk) 

It was refreshing to see so many entrepreneurs with the law background. They highlighted the need to have entrepreneurial mindset in the law industry.

After this panel discussion, next presentation was from Jordan Furlong – The walls are coming down. This talk was delivered via Skype from Canada. Jordan continued with the theme of the conference and mentioned that it is important for law firms to change as everything around them is changing. Jordan also highlighted the need for packaging legal solutions delivered online

Jordan emphasised that it is important to make processes and operations explicit because explicit processes make them more transparent and manageable. He recommended a a book – The checklist manifesto from Atul Gwande to understand the importance of explicit processes.

After this amazing talk (which essentially recapped everything mentioned in earlier talks), final session was on The law firm trade. This session started by David Grossman, Chief Executive of Simplify Group. He gave us an overview of how Simplify Group is structured and their mission

It was good to understand the crux of their mission statement and what Simplify Group means by – Changing legal services for good.

I had to leave final three talks because of the prior engagements, but I echo the feeling expressed by Eddie Ross from Quality Solicitors

From what I could gather, Law firms in the future will continue to invest in technology, will find ways measure their client satisfaction and keep customers at the centre of their universe.  Overall, it was a great conference and I will certainly look for their next event. My sentiments after the conference can be summarised by this tweet from Eliza

Finally, with more and more firms acquiring ABS licenses, this picture nicely summarises the way legal industry is heading

Thank you Legal Futures for inviting us – we hope to see you around!!

Please stay in touch and share this post with people who may have missed this conference.

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Photographic trends made possible because of Digitization

photoIt is possible to take pictures anywhere and everywhere not just because its free, quick and effortless but because we can.

Social media pages and apps like Facebook,Instagram and Snapchat have taken advantage of this and are making billions.

When was the last time you took a picture and shared it with your friends or updated your Whatsapp, Facebook or Twitter display picture?

Its the era for the photographic generation. Agree or Disagree?

 

 

 

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Digital Camera Vs Film Camera

There is a lot of difference in the end results of both camera’s. Depending on your preference and style, you might prefer to use one over the other.

Here are a few slides with detailed information that can help you decide which would suit you best.

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Musical Shift and Revenue

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Here are some figures to show the growth rate in figures in terms of how far the music industry has grown. We all need to look into more carefully, particularly if we value our music collections. One solution could be to include all relevant account information when you set up an inventory of your online assets to be passed on to nominated verifiers and beneficiaries.

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Do you own the tracks in your music album?

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Music distribution has evolved so drastically over the last few decades that we don’t have to glance too far back to see the changes. It wasn’t that long ago cassette tapes seemed such cool ways of transporting our music, certainly less clunky than their vinyl cousins. Then the CD turned that on its head, very swiftly followed by digitalmusic.

Amidst all the hype of which sound system delivers the purest experience, few people have given too much thought to the fact that by downloading music, they are in effect relinquishing their absolute ownership of their music collections.

As emotive as films and photos, our music collections represent a vast part of our very identity and in many cases something we would like to pass on to our loved ones when we die. In fact until quite recently there was the automatic assumption that we could do just that. The entire process had just become simpler, why would it not follow that passing it on would be just as hassle free?

So what does happen to all our music when we pass away?

As it turns out our downloaded music does not belong to us. What we are purchasing when we buy a music track is the licence to play that track. Which means since we don’t own it it isn’t transferable upon death.

It’s a licence granted to the purchaser and only the purchaser and when we pass away that license passes away with us. In fact the license that we buy to play a track or album comes with an extremely limited set of rights.

According to This is money more than £30billion of films, music and books bought through iTunes and Amazon could vanish when their owners die.

In 2012 it was alleged that ‘Die Hard’ actor Bruce Willis was preparing to sue Apple in a battle over who would own his vast collection of digital music when he died. It was alleged that Willis had asked his advisors to set up family trusts to “hold” his downloads, which according to friends include thousands of classic rock tunes and British acts from the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin as well as modern performers including Adele. However, it was later found out that this was a baseless rumour without a known source.

The fact is that this is an issue we all need to look into more carefully, particularly if we value our musiccollections. One solution could be to include all relevant account information when you set up an inventory of your online assets to be passed on to nominated verifiers and beneficiaries. There are those who simply go back a step and burn all their music back onto CDs, going forward however some sort of deal needs to be struck between suppliers and consumers to ensure an individual’s music legacy is protected and passed on.

 

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