Each year Business Link Magazine invites a select panel of the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead. It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years. And, while none of us possess a crystal ball, it is uncanny how accurate some of these forecasts have been over the years.
Here, we catch up with Iain Blatherwick, Managing Partner, Browne Jacobson
The cloud of uncertainty surrounding the practicalities and implications of our exit from the European Union will undoubtedly be at the forefront of most minds in 2018 as we edge ever closer to 29 March 2019. Up to now the UK economy has weathered the Brexit storm pretty well and has avoided falling off the cliff edge as some predicted. Observers predict modest economic growth; a picture that will most likely be repeated across the UK’s leading law firms and in line with the last twelve months.
In 2018 we should start seeing an ever increasing number of businesses focusing on areas such as agile and flexible working, driven largely by client demand and the changing needs of a diverse workforce and a longer term view on the best use of premises. We have already seen the business benefits of our own successful programme named ‘mogility’ which should be fully implemented across all our offices before the end of 2018.
The significant investment made by law firms in IT in recent years to address the changes in workforce demographics and the need to provide high quality, value driven client services will no doubt continue. Developments in areas such as digitisation and automation have had a significant impact on the way we run our central service functions – but the future looks like it will have a more direct impact on frontline services. Looking ahead, I expect to see a greater focus on the use of digital technology to enhance the client experience and improve competitive edge, which is both an opportunity and a threat. The focus on big data and how law firms use it in identifying new growth opportunities and delivering exceptional client service will become paramount.
Finally, to a large extent, this still all comes down to the people you work with. We need to focus on making sure we continue to attract, retain, develop and motivate the best talent, so we can deliver the service our clients are entitled to expect.