New Zealand Law Society - From the Law Society

From the Law Society

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Of the few things that are certain in life, one is change.

Those of us who have been providing legal services for a while will be all too aware of this, particularly as it relates to the business side of practice.

Change has not only happened, it is continuing to happen. And there are some commentators who have predicted that keeping up to date with how things are changing and moving to suit will become ever more important to success and even survival for law firms.

It is not really all that long ago, after all, that the rules were changed so that lawyers could advertise their services. Before that change, all a firm or sole practitioner could do in the way of advertising was to “hang up their shingle”.

Today we have more and more firms advertising regularly, and advertising in ways that were not even dreamed of a couple of decades ago. Law firm websites is an example.

In this issue of LawTalk, we look at the business side of practice.

It is vital to the modern practice of law that we are aware of what it requires to be successful as legal businesses.

Lawyers now should use all the business tools at their disposal, whether that is – to name just a few areas – developing a business plan, managing cash flow, managing credit control or effective marketing.

LawTalk has just begun a series called The Business of Law, which will take a continuing look at many of the issues around the business side of practice. The main feature in this issue looks at some issues that are vital to marketing.

It is critical to the modern practice of law that practitioners develop a strong focus on their clients. This is reflected in the legislation that covers our profession, the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006. It has a strong focus on “client care”.

For legal businesses to thrive, that client orientation needs to be given a very high place on all our agendas.

That is just as true for those who are in-house lawyers as for those in sole practice or law firms.

In house lawyers have – as marketing gurus have identified – both internal and external “customers”. Indeed, much of their daily interaction is with internal “customers”. They therefore need to have a customer orientation.

Just how much more important that is for in-house counsel who work for organisations who do have customers is obvious.

So, whether working in-house, for a law firm or in sole practice, client orientation is a vital part of building your practice as a lawyer. Indeed, it can be argued that to be truly successful, a lawyer needs to be even more than client-focused. They need to be client-driven.

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