As I have mentioned previously, I believe that law firms and professional service firms are facing a new business landscape in which companies will increasingly be willing to engage professionals located halfway around the world (as long as they have exactly the right expertise). As most law and professional service firms have always operated locally, this shifting landscape could force major changes in the way they operate and develop business.
So, what’s causing this shift? I believe that it comes down to three big factors:
- Communications Technologies. Inexpensive phone service, ubiquitous internet connectivity, and online collaboration tools like WebEx have all greatly reduced the relevance of geographic proximity. Furthermore, these technologies have changed cultural norms, as people have become accustomed to the idea of developing relationships with people they’ve never actually met in person.
- Information Flow. The internet has made the process of researching professionals much easier. We no longer have to rely so heavily on gatekeepers to guide us. For example, if you want to find out which doctors are pioneering treatments for a particular ailment, you no longer have to rely on your family doctor. You can use the internet to research it yourself. And increasingly, people do.
- Economics. Like all economic downturns, The Great Recession has hastened change. Businesses have been forced to reconsider how they do business and find a better, more efficient way.