Find out how SB2 Consultants can improve your firm's operations.

Services

SB2 Consultants’ distinguished professionals bring a wealth of insight to both domestic and international Am Law 200 law firms and Fortune 500 legal departments. Our consulting services cover the complete range of organizational, financial and technology management issues that law firms and legal departments face in today’s challenging business environment.

We work with each client to recommend a sustainable business strategy to best suit their short-term and long-term goals, realizing both increased profitability and operational efficiencies.

SB2 focuses on the following “best of breed” services:
Strategic Cost Reduction
Secretarial Re-Alignment
Law Firm Evaluator
Benchmarking
Finance/Administrative OutSourcing and CoSourcing
Procurement Strategies
Strategy and Operations
Strategy Development and Communication
Objective Manager
Financial Management and Reporting
Partner Compensation
Mergers and Acquisitions
Firm Retreats
Client Satisfaction Surveys and Confidential Interviews
Practice Group Management
Legal Project Management

STRATEGIC COST REDUCTION

Administrative costs have become a major concern for law firms today. What a firm spends to support its attorneys in their work is a significant and growing portion of the firm’s gross income. Every administrative dollar saved converts into an additional investment in the overall growth or strengthening of the firm.

Many firms have undertaken cost reduction programs in the past. These programs were often initially successful in achieving cost savings. However, many firms found it difficult to sustain the savings level and to pursue additional savings in a systematic and ongoing manner.

SB2 has developed a comprehensive approach to reducing the costs associated with providing administrative support to a firm’s attorneys. Using a combination of analytical tools, benchmarking and innovative practices our consultants can significantly reduce the cost of providing high quality services to your attorneys.

The five service lines that comprise Strategic Cost Reduction are independent and may be implemented together, in sequence or selectively depending upon the needs of the law firm.

Secretarial Re-Alignment

The relationship between attorneys and secretaries has evolved significantly  over the past 25 years.  In the mid-1980’s, a ration of one secretary per attorney was common and, if a secretary supported more than one attorney, it was usually a partner and an associate who worked closely with the partner.

Technology, personnel costs, workload and attorney expectations as to the type of support they need has altered the traditional administrative support structures for attorneys.

We have assisted many clients in improving the quality and breath services supplied to attorneys while significantly reducing costs.

Our methodology has resulted in support rations of 4.5 – 6:0 :1 while simultaneously reducing secretarial operating expenses between 15 to 25 percent.

Law Firm Evaluator

Strategic Cost Reduction service line that is a diagnostic review of the existing administrative processes within the accounting, client acceptance, purchasing, H/R, payroll and finance departments of the firm. The review focuses on the identification of outmoded or redundant processes within the firm or instances where the current processes and procedures do not take full advantage of the features and functionality of existing financial management software and current best practices.

The output of a Law Firm Evaluator review can include process improvement recommendations, identification of financial control weaknesses and technology enhancement opportunities.

Benchmarking

Strategic Cost Reduction service line that is a methodology that compares the current legal organization processes and results to those of other legal organizations and identifies differences.

This identification leads to:

  • Comparison and explanation of the business performance against other relevant legal organizations
  • Identification of areas where the administrative processes are sub-optimal
  • Explanation and understanding of performance gaps
  • Indicators of how to improve the processes to match or surpass the performance of other firms

Finance/Administrative OutSourcing and CoSourcing

A logical extension of Strategic Cost Reduction is to evaluate the feasibility and desirability of performing some or all of a law firm’s administrative functions in a different geographic location than the headquarters/home office.

Computer technology and communication costs have combined to obviate the need to have the accounting, human resources, payroll, IT helpdesk and other administrative functions in the same facility as the partners. Indeed, in most multi-office firms these functions are already remote from a majority of the partners.

Traditional OutSourcing involves the movement of specific functions from the client to a third party service provider who performs the functions on a contractual basis. Few of the outsourced functions staff remain with the firm.

CoSourcing is designed so that key employees remain with the firm. Repetitive administrative tasks are moved but key managers (and firm knowledge) remain.

SB2 professionals are experienced in developing the criteria, performing the analysis and advising law firms on the benefits and challenges involved in moving the administrative functions to an outsourced or a cosourced environment.

In the recent past, our professionals have worked to create the two most successful law firm outsourcing environments and established the single, most successful shared service center for AmLaw 100 law firms in the United States.

Procurement Strategies

Non compensation and rental expense is an overlooked saving opportunity for many law firms. There are a number of firms that work in the expense reduction area but none with the expertise and proven results of Profit Recovery Partners (“PRP”). SB2 is an alliance partner with PRP and proudly recommends them to all our clients. Your SB2 service partner will work closely with the PRP team to ensure a seamless engagement that produces maximum results.

PRP specializes in the development, implementation and management of administrative expense reduction solutions. To date, PRP has completed more than 1,000 client engagements, which have resulted in more than $2.3 billion n client savings for companies all across North America. Much of these savings were achieved in law firms.

PRP conducts a no-risk Comprehensive Review™, in which they conduct a savings analysis, vendor contract observations, labor resource assessment and review the competitive landscape. The review identifies the savings opportunity that can be achieved as well as insight into a firm’s procurement processes and visibility into their operational spend, which ensures long-term sustained savings.

After you determine to engage PRP, their Strategy Development Teams and Industry Experts review and analyze your current expenses and provide a line-item detailed analysis of all reviewed data. Savings are achieved within 30-120 days. PRP’s process is very collaborative.

Following PRP’s implementation of the savings programs, their Solutions Management Team will provide you with quarterly line-item audits and ongoing verification of the implemented savings programs. Their goal is to ensure results are sustained while seeking to identify additional savings over the term of our engagement with you.

STRATEGY and OPERATIONS

SB2 has developed a comprehensive approach to the development of law firm strategy and communications, the management and reporting of law firm finances, the evaluation and development of partner compensation methodologies, and advising law firms on future mergers and acquisitions.

Our consultants assist law firms in developing and implementing a clear strategic direction to enhance the law firms eminence and the law firm’s focus.

Our Strategy and Operations Services:

Strategy Development and Communication

Strategy and Operations service line that focuses on developing and communicating law firm strategy that must:

  • Reflect the Firm’s traditions and values.
  • Reflect the underlying core competencies and expertise of the partnership.
  • Recognize that any investment in one practice limits the investments that can be made in other practices.
  • Support the Firm’s Partners in their professional ambitions and be aligned with the culture and values of the Firm.
  • Create value in the eyes of the Firm’s clients and its members.
  • Provide clear strategic direction and identifiable metrics upon which the Firm’s partners can be evaluated and compensated.

Objective Manager

Objective Manager is a performance improvement software tool developed in Great Britain by our alliance partner Fulbright Limited.  It was designed and built specifically for law firms by people who have spent their careers helping law firms grow.

Developed in London and currently implemented in 25 law firms in the UK and Canada, Objective Manager enables everybody to know what the Firm is trying to achieve.  Objective Manager is focused on helping attorneys achieve more by clarifying objectives, aligning them to the firm-wide stratgegy and sharing progress across the firm.

This creates a collaborative and open environment, in which attorneys are clear on their goals and work together to achieve key goals that will help the business grown.

Attorneys understand (at a glance) the Firm’s, Practice Group’s and clients’ Business Plans and their role in making those plans a success.

Objective Manager allows everyone in the Firm to be focused on your clients and information is openly shared among attorneys.

Attorneys easily collaborate among themselves and recognize opportunities for cross-referral wins.

Objective Manager helps drive your Firm’s client relationship program.  Key client plans are presented in a concise set of core objective, showing the tam what is key to the relationship and how to deliver exceptional client service.

To find out more, click the “Our Insights” tab and view the Objective Manager presentation or, better yet, contact us directly for a live web demo of this remarkable software product.

Financial Management and Reporting

Management in law firms today require more insightful, timely and accessible reporting of financial results and events to better manage the Firm. Accounts Receivable, WIP, origination and production reports, while useful, do not provide a complete enough picture to successfully manage a large, complex and growing Firm. Additional information to manage the Firm’s practice and evaluate business risks must be made available in a timely and innovative format to the Firm’s management and partners.

Management reports should track the key drivers of the Firm’s strategy and be widely available. Additionally, a Firm should be capable of creating custom reports based upon the Firm’s most recent data in a timely and cost efficient manner. �These reports need not be on paper but distributed through the Firm’s Management Information Portal.

We assist clients with identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). KPIs must be:

  • Linked to Firm Strategy
    – Can the measure be aligned with an Firm’s strategic objectives?
  • Controllable/influenceable
    – Can action be taken to improve performance?
  • Simple
    – Can the measure be easily and clearly explained?
  • Credible
    – Is the measure resistant to manipulation?
  • Measurable
    – Can the measure be quantified?

Some sample KPIs include:

  • Partner and Client/Matter Profitability
  • Client Investment Return Analysis
  • Actual to Budgeted Fees at Completion of Matter
  • Net Fees per Hour
  • Partner Matter Leverage
  • Adjusted Annual Fee Billings

Partner Compensation

Partner compensation in law firms should be closely tied to the achievement of previously identified strategic goals that enhance the firm’s overall success.

In the past, partner compensation was driven “by the numbers” only. In today’s challenging environment, partners need to develop new business, maintain old relationships, mentor associates and contribute to the firm’s reputation and administrative needs. All of these contribution factors need to be identified, measured and rewarded by a firm’s compensation system.

The SB2 Consultants’ 360 degree performance feedback system involves all partners in developing annual performance contracts with the firm. These contracts are based upon the four to five distinct contribution roles that exist within all law firms and recognize each partner’s unique attributes.

The contracts detail how a partner will contribute (and be evaluated) to the firm’s strategic success in the coming year. Each contract is linked to the firm’s overall strategic objectives and thereby enables firm management to direct partner efforts in a meaningful and beneficial manner.

At the conclusion of a performance year, the annual partner compensation discussion becomes the start of the next year performance contracting process with developmental needs identified during the review process addressed in the subsequent annual performance contract.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Successful law firm mergers require both a cultural and strategic fit.

Our work in mergers and acquisitions is focused on analyzing the strategic aspects of a merger and providing standardized financial reports and analysis that firm management can rely upon to make informed decisions during the merger negotiation process.

We review past financial reports for both firms, identify any different accounting treatments and prepare financial projections based upon similar accounting principals.

We also identify and quantify future liabilities such as unfunded pensions, lease obligations or contracts that can have an adverse economic impact on the new firm.

Our analysis also includes utilization reports on partners and associates, client concentration analysis financial projections for the combined firm and a detailed analysis of a both firms expense and administrative structure. The result of this analysis a detailed set of recommendations on savings that the new firm could achieve as a result of the merger.

Firm Retreats

SB2 assists law firm management in the planning, facilitation and in speaker presentations for partner and attorney retreats.  Retreats afford a firm the opportunity to build firm cohesion, discuss important topics and reach consensus on significant issues.  We have successfully guided firms in the introduction of new partner compensation programs, adopted new strategies and approved firm mergers in retreats.

Client Satisfaction Surveys and Confidential Interviews

Understanding what your clients think about your services and what the client’s needs are is vital information that supports growing client relationships. Understanding client perspectives is invaluable as a marketing and client service tool. With a better understanding of what your clients think about your firm’s services, your firm can build on strengths, address weaknesses and improve client relations. SB2 can assist your firm in planning, coordinating and in conducting confidential client surveys and interviews.

Practice Group Management

Law firms function and compete at the practice group level. To be truly effective, practice groups in a law firm must be well managed and operate as a team. To achieve this, a practice group needs effective group leadership, a clear client focused group strategy and practice group profitability that is accretive to the firm. SB2 has conducted practice group effectiveness reviews that have benefited our clients by improving leadership, refined and focused their strategy and improved group profitability.

Legal Project Management

Legal project management is a systematic task based method of work project management. It is similar to the project management tools utilized by other professional firms for decades. Successful project management involves management commitment, a project task budget (work plan), a tracking and a reporting system and review methodology at the conclusion of each matter. With the demand for alternative fee arrangements and the emphasis on cost containment, legal project management is a necessary tool for law firms. SB2 can assist your firm in designing and implementing an effective project management system.