Anywhere Operations: the evolution of law firms

The pandemic gave many people their first taste of remote working and with it, a better work-life balance; the chance to do the school run or go for a lunchtime run. Understandably, many are keen to hang onto this new way of working; the most recent government data shows that 85% of adults working from home would prefer a hybrid approach and a survey by Acritas found that 77% of senior lawyers wanted to retain elements of remote working, whilst 22% said they may leave if their firm wouldn’t accommodate their wishes.

The message is clear: the pandemic has changed how – and where – people want to work. And those firms who have responded by continuing to adapt their business models out of desire, rather than necessity, will be able to stand up to further disruption, pandemic-related or otherwise.

As law firms look at ways to evolve and secure their future success, they now have an opportunity to put their people front and centre – both employees and clients – of their operations. According to Gartner’s 2021 Report into leading technology trends, this can be realised through a model known as “anywhere operations”, which it cites as being critical for businesses in order to emerge successfully from COVID-19.

What is Anywhere Operations?

The concept of anywhere operations focuses on using technology, processes, and teams to enable a dispersed workforce to successfully serve customers, no matter their location. The ‘digital-first’ model provides more than just enabling remote working or connecting with clients virtually. Anywhere operations is about building an adaptable and resilient foundation of technology solutions, internal procedures, digital tools, and the right skillsets to seamlessly run your business without a physical infrastructure and no matter the location of employees and customers.  

Anywhere Operations challenges the traditional ideas of how to run a law firm, removing the need for an office location and face-to-face client interactions. It utilises technology to run a seamless and unrestricted operation that drives efficiency and enables a frictionless collaboration between clients and lawyers digitally.

The digital foundation

A cloud-based, fully integrated practice and case management system (PCMS) is the cornerstone of any law firm looking to adopt an anywhere operations approach. Connected in real-time and available 24/7 a PCMS is the centralised, single platform that helps you to run your firm and manage your cases and clients effectively. With your documents, processes, and data unified and available from the cloud, your firm can operate anytime, anywhere, and successfully manage clients digitally.

A PCMS provides the digital tools to significantly speed up legal matters by reducing manual administration and taking advantage of efficiency-boosting features and automations. The solution also makes it incredibly easy to share and collaborate with all parties, including your internal team, so your business can operate seamlessly through the cloud-hosted platform.

Importantly, a PCMS enables law firms to offer client-centric solutions. A client web portal, automated text messaging, real-time updates and eSignatures ensures clients are kept informed and provides a convenient and frictionless service from all team members to any client, regardless of location.

A people first approach to legal technology

This is arguably the cornerstone to the success of the anywhere operations model: recognising the importance of people. Without retaining and attracting the right people, it is difficult to understand how the model can succeed. After all, people are not only critical to your success, but are also central to the adoption and use of new technologies.

Although a people-first approach may be interpreted in different ways by different law firms, all firms should recognise its importance in the post-COVID world.

Final thoughts

When looking to adopt an anywhere operations approach, it is important to recognise that it isn’t just about technology or working from home; nor is about going paperless or paper lite.  It is about looking at your entire business – including your people first and foremost – and removing any physical elements that could limit your operation.

Our latest eBook – A Guide to Anywhere Operations – contains advice and guidance on an AO approach and its many benefits for law firms.  Take a look to see how law firms can create a digital foundation whilst putting people at the heart of their operations to help secure their future success.