2012 is a time of great change for the legal sector, and as with any period of significant change, there are undoubtedly many challenges to be faced in the months and years ahead. Those law firms that fare best in these conditions will be the ones who can successfully embrace the changes, and adapt accordingly. In-house training is one way to ensure that your firm survives and thrives with the rest of the new breed, rather than being consigned to the dustbin of history with the lumbering and unchanging dinosaurs of the legal world.

The times they are a-changing…

Like it or not, the legal sector is changing, and that means that all the profession, from giant law firms to individual lawyers, needs to change too. Last October saw the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation (OFR) by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). While this considerable shift from a concrete set of rules to more flexible ‘principles’, might seem like a relaxation of the regulations, the SRA has made it clear that it is anything but. Ensuring that your firm complies is no doubt challenge enough in itself.

Then there’s the introduction of alternative business structures (ABS), part of the legal services act 2007, which have made it possible for those without legal training or backgrounds to own, manage and invest in law firms. This too has posed new challenges for those opting to adopt ABS, while at the same time creating fresh opportunities in the form of equity options, and diversification of services.

The gradual introduction of ‘litigation funding’, in which a third party can fund all or some of a client’s legal bill in return for a share of the proceeds from winning the case, is also set to change the face of some areas of the legal world drastically. Damage based agreements (DBA’s), which allow the law firm themselves to fund the litigation in return for a proportion of the damages are also changing things, not to mention the impending reform of ‘no win no fee’.

Train to stay on top of your game

While those law firms that stay on top of these many changes have the chance to get ahead, failure to recognise and understand them could be catastrophic. In such a climate of wholesale change, a regular programme of legal training to keep staff up to speed is essential.

Ensuring that all your legal staff are up to date with key issues will help greatly in your firm’s efforts to stay on top of compliance and risk management related matters arising from the recent regulation changes.

In-house legal training can also be an effective way of maintaining team cohesion during these times of change. It can help each individual solicitor or lawyer to perform at their highest level, armed with the latest knowledge, while at the same time building the morale and communication-effectiveness of the team.

Now might even be the right time to break into a hitherto untapped niche, for example by engaging in personal injury training.

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