Transactional attorneys faced tough headwinds in 2022 and 2023, as demand for their services dipped and in-house legal teams doubled down on spend management.
It turns out that, with the right technology and tools in place, this softer demand can lead to opportunity. That’s especially true for transactional attorneys to evolve alongside their clients and grow despite changing demands. In the long run, that evolution will lead to one of the greatest benefits of modern technology: happier clients.
The shifting needs of in-house legal teams change the demand equation for law firms
Demand for transactional services from law firms flipped upside down from the end of 2021 to the end of 2022. What had been nearly double-digit growth turned into nearly double-digit decline, according to the 2023 State of the Legal Market report from Thomson Reuters.
That left a lot of transactional practice areas all staffed up with nowhere to go.
Clients experienced this shift in their own way. Many in-house legal teams had been working intensely to support growth and transformation within their companies. These legal teams also received directions to manage outside legal costs and see about keeping certain types of work in-house. According to the 2023 State of the Corporate Law Department report from Thomson Reuters, cost control is the third most important strategic focus for corporate legal departments worldwide and the top priority for those in the United States.
That dynamic can call into question the foundation of the relationship between clients and their outside counsel. Law firm attorneys have developed an expertise that makes them the go-to for certain matters. And in-house legal teams are examining matters that come up so routinely that they can handle them themselves.
Tools to help lawyers evolve with their clients
Modern technology makes it easier for lawyers to confidently say yes to types of matters they haven’t worked on before. Take Practical Law Dynamic Tool Set, for instance. This know-how tool serves up the information and template you need to get started in a new area of law.
Dynamic Search leverages artificial intelligence to serve up answers to complex legal questions. When you ask questions like “What elements should a force majeure clause include?” You’ll receive an answer curated from Practical Law’s attorney-editors with links to relevant documents that explain the answer, so you can go deeper as you apply that expertise to your own project.
Visually navigate Practical Law’s collection to understand the procedures, market data, and tools that inform how you approach the matter.
Interactive Matter Maps
With Matter Maps you can plan your work on each matter. You see the core phases and tasks in a legal matter with links to key resources at each phase. This feature is especially helpful if you are taking on a new type of matter and are still learning all the steps.
Identify local laws faster using Quick Compare. With just a few clicks, create custom charts that answer key questions across states. For example, you can compare the “applicability of Impossibility, Frustration of Purpose, and Impracticability of contracts” in Florida, New York, and Texas. This capability is helpful when you are trying to decide which state law you want to apply to your contract.
What’s Market Analytics
Create data-driven insights and visualizations with What’s Market Analytics. Use it to analyze and share market trends and deal terms quickly. When you are stepping into a new type of transaction, having the market data at your fingertips is incredibly helpful. The visualizations from What’s Market Analytics help you make recommendations even faster and communicate your approach persuasively to clients and colleagues.
Build your expertise to better serve your clients
Your in-house clients are always going to go through cycles of taking more work on in-house. That doesn’t have to mean they will need you less. As certain types of matters become routine for them and they staff up to keep things in-house, you can shift your efforts to matters they aren’t encountering regularly.
As a trusted expert, clients rely on you to handle the legal scenarios they don’t see every day. You have the resources and the deep bench of problem-solving associates to deliver excellent work even on matters you haven’t seen before.
If you feel confident about the tools you have backing you up, you can also feel confident about your ability to take on new matter types. Your ability to say “yes” to new and non-routine matter types lets you meet your client’s needs as they change, so they don’t have to find a different firm to take the matter. No more “no’s” from you leads to happier clients and a happier, busier transactional law team.