Bloomsbury Law Online

Articles filed under Legal practice

Sigmoid curve

Richard Hugo-Hamman, executive chairman of LEAP, discusses change and how to use technology to keep ahead of the curve.

Your law firm is a business, growth and profitability is paramount. You want to see your client base grow and your profits increase. More importantly, you don’t want to go backwards just because you are so busy working in the business that you don’t notice what is happening. You may have other goals – opening another office or being recognised as experts in a niche field. Whatever your measure of success, you want it to endure.

Creating consistent, long-term growth can prove elusive. The best way to generate long-term growth is through the regular introduction of change to create new ways of doing things. For many businesses, including law firms, the clearest path to continued success is through the regular implementation of new technology in an ongoing cycle.

This needs a culture of innovation so that your whole firm is accustomed to continuous improvement.

LEAP devices

The continuing advancement of cloud technology and the new ownership regulation means it has never been easier to start a law firm. Mobility, simpler and lower cost technology and widespread acceptance of remote working is motivating legal entrepreneurs wanting to start their own practice.


I first wrote on this subject for the Newsletter in early 2013. My views have changed quite a lot in the four years since then.

I believe we’ve seen that big is not always better, that well run, customer-focused, local law firms can survive and that trying to roll up 200 separate law firms under a new, national pink and black logo and name does not mean instant success for any of the firms involved.

So, who (or what) should law firms be afraid of, in 2017?

quentin-huntA surprisingly large number of lawyers are unaware of the right to bring a private prosecution and the potential benefits that such a course of action can bring. A private prosecution is a ‘criminal law’ action and is prosecuted in the criminal courts but if utilised effectively, it can be a very useful tactic either as an alternative or in combination with Civil Litigation. The following are areas where private prosecutions have been used to great effect:


A view from across the pond.

Remember all those ludicrous predictions you kept hearing about how law firms were some day going to invest heavily in intelligent technology that could do legal work? Funny thing about that: some day is today.

Here’s what’s actually happening, right now, with advanced technology in law firms:


As reported in Legal Futures, the much delayed Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates (QASA) – originally scheduled for implementation in December 2011 – is still showing no sign of movement.

QASA has been described as “the only way” to protect all members of the public involved in criminal proceedings “at an upper level” but has been plagued with interruptions and delays. The latest delay sees the profession awaiting the government decision on whether it will set up an overlapping panel of defence advocates which the government believes will “provide valuable quality assurance and enable the government to have greater confidence in the quality of publicly funded defence advocacy”.

Nick Holmes and I have been covering “virtual law firms” in the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers since 2006. In May 2007, I wrote an article called “Virtual Law Firms – where we are now” which looked at several of the firms we had already covered, and cross linked this with the size of firm, the type of clients they were working for and the type of work covered. I also looked at practical issues like the need for social contact between fee-earners, secretarial support, handling accounts and practice management, telephone, post and fax (remember fax?), sharing of fees and (importantly) why they had decided to “go virtual”.

You can view all articles on virtual practice which have appeared in this Newsletter over the years at (this includes a couple relating to Chambers).

Looking back at these articles now, it appears that the so-called “virtual firms” were still, at that time, trying to be a “real” firm, generally with a central office (which could be the senior partner’s home) and still requiring SRA registration, but with developing solutions for computers, software, telephone, secretarial services and accounts. Despite all the new technology, however, I would say that they were still firms of solicitors that my father (who was senior partner of Vinters in Cambridge in the 1960s) would have recognised.

Fast track forward to 2016, and it seems as if the phrase “virtual firm” is not really used any more, probably since most firms will be using many of the characteristic new technologies involved and they are just normal firms.

This article first appeared in Legal Web Watch April 2016. Legal Web Watch is a free monthly email service which complements the Internet Newsletter for Lawyers. To receive Legal Web Watch regularly sign up here.

We all know the term "clickbait": content, especially that of a sensational or provocative nature, whose main purpose is to attract attention and draw visitors to a particular web page.

It is now nearly 20 years ago since my book Legal Practice in the Digital Age was first published. The book’s central theme was that despite all the money law firms were spending on technology in those days, most of this money (money which might otherwise be going to partners) was being spent on the wrong stuff.

What law firms were spending their money on back then were mainly inward-facing, back office administrative systems, such accounts, practice management, wordprocessing and document management systems. Whereas what they should have been spending their money on were outward-looking, client-facing systems … in other words systems that could help deliver a better legal service experience to their clients.

Susan Mclean has written an excellent article in the May issue of Computers & Law on The Rise of the Sharing Economy, its challenges and the legal issues concerned. I’d recommend you read it!

The purpose of this article is to point to some useful further resources and alternative perspectives that may help in our understanding of this phenomenon and how it affects lawyers.

DPS Software have launched a new web-based practice management system for law firms incorporating team and personal target management tools as well as all the benefits of the DPS case management software. It allows fee earners to record time, create attendance notes, dictate against a file, create emails from tasks and view their file history from any location with Internet access.

Richmond Chambers LLP is an award-winning, innovative partnership of specialist immigration barristers. Authorised by the SRA as the first barrister-only ABS in July 2013, our members share a core commitment to providing high quality immigration law advice and representation directly to the public.

Following the introduction of the public access scheme for immigration work in April 2010, we witnessed an increasing demand for immigration law advice and representation directly from a barrister. However, we were also aware of the weaknesses of the traditional chambers model insofar as direct access work was concerned.

As barristers in independent practice, we were limited by our own capacity. We lacked the technical and administrative capability to effectively deliver legal advice and representation to more than a few clients at any one time.

Having put an appropriate business structure in place, our thoughts therefore quickly turned to technology as a way of delivering improved efficiencies. We wanted to explore how the internet could improve our administration and marketing, drive up standards of client care, enable our barristers to collaborate more effectively with both clients and paralegals and operate a paperless chambers. And, we wanted to achieve all of this as cost-effectively as possible.