High value. Low value. High volume. Commoditisation. These terms seem to have become hard wired into the minds of law firms.
The common narrative suggests that the "top-end" law firms have focused on value work rather than volume work, leaving the rest to fight over the commoditised scraps at the bottom of the market.
The value vs. volume mode of thought is entirely misleading and damaging. The only thing that matters is how much profit can be made from a piece of work - and lower fee work can be very profitable if delivered properly.
I once heard the Chief Executive of Poundstretcher talk about the growth of his business. He said that the key to success in any market where price is a key factor is constant innovation.
That, ultimately, is the reason law firms don't want to do the "volume" work - they don't know how to innovate to do it profitably. However, if clients keep pushing they won't have a choice in the matter.
Taking a piece of existing work; finding new ways to do it more quickly and cheaply; systemising every possible element of it to deliver consistency and quality assurance; reducing the cost to the client. Now that's really high value.
For more ideas and thinking visit www.thirteenideas.com
Law firms were initially fine with losing that routine work, both because they could just find better, higher margin work, and because they still have not mastered the art of making money on fixed fee arrangements. And yet over time, insourcing, outsourcing, and computerization have started to take more complicated and profitable work. For example, e-discovery outlets started by creating algorithms to sort through emails. Now they handle all sorts of documents and pleadings. E-discovery vendors hope to become one-stop discovery experts. Since hardly any cases actually proceed to trial, these services are a significant threat to law firm bottom lines.