Heading up the business development and marketing team at Cartwright King, Ben Trott sits on the firm’s central management team–having recently been appointed as the youngest director in the company.
Since Ben joined, the firm’s website alone has generated an uptick in new business enquiries, from a value of £250K to over £2million. The Propero team speaks to Ben about legal firms’ support functions, the future of unbundled services, and the increasingly on-demand culture firms are faced with.
Director, Cartwright King
What attracted you to a career in the legal industry?
I originally started at a commercial firm in the administration department and enjoyed speaking to the solicitors and partners in the office. I listened to their stories and saw their business clients coming into the office. Having a passion for all things business, I wanted to be in on the meetings and so went off to study law. The law fascinates me because of how many different practise areas there are. I am constantly learning about new areas and everyday really is different. I also have the added benefit of knowing that as a firm we really do make a difference to clients’ lives and businesses.
What impact has digital had on shaping the legal industry so far?
Traditionally practices were built on reputation and following alone. Today, reputation is still important but the high street has been largely replaced with high speed internet. Our ‘on demand’ culture and instant access to the web means that the legal industry has changed. This, coupled with e-mails and cloud-based management systems has revolutionised the legal industry. Today, paper files and letters are in fast decline and now the generations of trainees coming through may never need to use paper processes.
What do you see as the biggest challenges for legal firms to overcome in the next decade?
Over the next decade, firms will need to increase investment in all support functions, as well as educating staff to think more commercially and to embrace change. All too often law schools and firms don’t train staff in all the others skills that it takes to be a great practitioner. From sales skills to client care and how to work well in a team, these are some of the fundamental things we look for. Firms will need to openly embrace change and develop staff, so that they are incentivised and have the ability to spot opportunities for creating increasingly efficient working methods. A law firm needs constant improvement and innovation to keep ahead of the curve.
How is the digital evolution impacting the way legal firms operate?
From cloud based working and legal process outsourcing to AI. The digital evolution has created greater efficiencies and quicker access to resources.
Tech and software has created firms which are now wholly reliant upon IT for accounts, HR, practising law, marketing, and training. IT Directors and CIOs (Chief Information Officer) have increasing responsibility for ensuring the successful day to day operation of their firms. Education in using technology, software and in cyber security is needed to keep firms operating smoothly and therefore, IT Directors and CIOs should be heavily involved in future decision making and strategy of the firms where they work.
What do you think the legal future will look like?
The future of the legal industry will see large firms offering unbundled and DIY services. There will be an increase in fixed fee pricing with prices published online for most practise areas. Increasing efficiencies will lead to passing savings onto clients and increased competition will drive down fees. There will also be an increase in boutique firms opening up in areas of law which have not yet fully developed yet. e.g. cybercrime.
Our ‘on demand’ culture will also push firms to re-think the 9-5 industry of professional services and work out new ways to offer instant advice around the clock.
What does it take to be successful in the legal industry?
I am still working this one out, but I believe a healthy mix of confidence, a genuine interest in helping your colleagues/clients, a passion for the law and a determination for delivering results. An entrepreneurial mindset and commercial awareness also provides a helping hand, because traditionally only solicitors managed legal practices. Today, firms have so much pressure on them from regulation to market forces that it helps to have an understanding of the wider landscape in which you operate.
What would you like to see more of in the legal industry?
I would like to see an increase in diversity within the industry and increasing levels of access to justice for those who can ill afford the advice they desperately need.
I would also like to see increasing number of individuals from non-legal backgrounds joining the industry. The legal industry provides a very round and rewarding career and you don’t need to have studied law to progress. Attracting non-legal professionals into the industry will help revolutionise and develop the business of law.
AI… Will it replace or support human processes in the legal industry?
More and more processes will be automated and AI will play an increasingly important role over the next decade. However, as long as people still enjoy human contact, I believe there will always be a need or option to liaise directly with people.
Ben Trott was chosen by the Propero team as this quarter’s Leaders In Professional Services.
Do you know someone pushing the boundaries of ‘normal’ in the legal, finance, accounting or I.T. industry? We’re looking to shine the light on those at the forefront of positive change. If you have someone in mind, nominate a leader in your industry here.
What is Leaders In Professional Services?
The professional services industry, being as traditional and established as it is, stereotypically struggles to let go of the old, in favour of the new. Leaders in Professional Services, is Propero’s way of acknowledging those who are working to push the industry forward, so they can run more effectively, profitably and proactively, well into the future.
Each quarter, a leader from one of our 4 key industries–legal, accounting, management consultancy, finance or IT–will be chosen and interviewed. Not only will the individual receive the recognition they whole-heartedly deserve, but Propero will also donate £150 to a charity of their choice.