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Digitisation in the law firm business – hype or here to stay?

Updated: Aug 14, 2020

I’ve stopped counting the conferences on digitisation in the legal market. It feels as if at least two dozen such conferences took place in the German-speaking area alone in 2017. Roughly the same number have been announced for 2018. Does this make sense? Shouldn’t we put our reflections on how to run the law firm business in the future on a somewhat broader basis?

What is undisputed: modern technologies provide new possibilities for the provision of core legal services (preparation and management of documents, legal research and the analysis of large volumes of documents are examples that are often adduced), for the transfer of knowledge within the law firm, for marketing and for, say, the financial management of a law firm.

Only: strategy, business model design, client orientation, process optimisation, risk management, leadership, management through key figures, and communication are issues which we will have to focus on more strongly once again. A law firm will not become more successful because a hired technician installs a new software. Such an investment must be backed by a consistent strategy. The partners of the law firm must be clear about what services they want to provide, which market segments they want to target, which markets the law firm wants to be present in and how it wants to distribute its services. This requires clear-cut determination and demarcation. Only in this way will a law firm arrive at its very own profile in the market and thus become sufficiently visible among existing and potential clients.

In my blog I would like to take up the cudgels for an integrative view of law firm management. I would like to initiate a debate about

  • trends in the law firm market,

  • strategy development,

  • possible forms of organisation for law firms,

  • the consistent orientation of law firms towards their clients’ interests,

  • dealing with risk,

  • demands on law firm partners’ management behaviour,

  • the recruitment, encouragement and promotion of young lawyers,

  • the financial management of law firms and

  • problems concerning the establishment of a law firm, its growth and its succession plan for when partners retire.

I’m already looking forward to debating these issues with you in this small series! See you soon!

Yours, Leo Staub

This blog was originally published on 31 January 2018 in Vista, the online magazine of the Executive School, University of St.Gallen, Switzerland.


About the Author Prof. Dr. Leo Staub is a Titular Professor of Business Law and Legal Management at the University of St. Gallen. He also is one of the Directors of the Executive School of Management, Technology and Law of St. Gallen University where he chairs the division “Law & Management”.

Leo can be reached at

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