Will the future bring new roles in law firms that we haven’t seen before?
In the longer term, absolutely. In the short term, there is already a shift in the skill-sets as well as the mind-set, required to deliver successful projects. For the solutions we’re building with our clients, we look for input from multiple experts within the firm (IT, pricing, project management, legal), who need to work together and talk the same language; to break down old silos and work well as a team. When our non-legal and legal teams collaborate on projects, the collective efforts serve as a catalyst for greater legal innovation. Ideas are raised, encouraged, considered, and developed or dismissed quickly with the right input.
Combine that with our expanding team of graduates in our legal process hub, Newcastle – who, every day delight me with their “can do” approach and their small incremental but valuable changes to a process – you can understand why a firm like us is changing the way we provide legal services. Clients want to see all our experts and many of these will be non-legal.
How can we improve? Legal staff need to be better at communicating their requirements in a structured way and non-lawyers need to be freed up to unlock the value of their skills.
Is the current partnership model still attractive to new recruits? Will it stay attractive?
For some, it is. For an increasing number, it isn’t and law firms are losing top talent due to lifestyle preferences. Encouraging flexibility and various new ways of working to help employees with family or other commitments is increasingly a significant consideration.
We are working on collaborative long-term projects with clients rather than on discrete matters for clients. The projects are more structured than traditional law, which helps promote flexible working yet with access to quality work. Traditional law is being turned on its head; we will be contracting legal skills to provide the legal framework to a new way of working, deliver content or build templates and leaving the delivery to a dedicated and service driven unit.
Increasingly, our staff are interested in having more “skin in the game” at an earlier point in their career. For others who are interested in the new roles appearing in law firms, we need to be able to articulate a different and compelling career track that values their contribution and their lifestyle preferences. The reality is that there are only small pools of experienced legal project managers, legal business analysts, and legal technologists and so we are developing our own. Our Newcastle Hub is becoming our nucleus for this new talent.
There are some new roles being created around strategy and innovation, what changes will these bring to law firms?
Before these roles were blended with project teams, it was a case of whoever shouted the loudest received IT resource to build a new piece of tech.
Now with dedicated roles focused solely on innovation and strategy, ideas can be developed and nurtured and a business rationale imposed. We can actually deliver innovation by successfully merging an optimised process with technology and the right team deployed to operate it. With these new roles come the budgets and resources to experiment with less conventional ideas, new technologies and to develop new capabilities in-house. Combining the output from innovation teams, with a commercial team to promote, is the underlying narrative of all our recent success stories.
Who has been the most influential person in your career?
For a number of years, I worked with Mark Bankes, a corporate mining lawyer. We discussed the “better ways” of working continuously, particularly during the course of a deal in Africa when laboriously working through the night replicating execution copies of transaction documents for a formal signing ceremony, dealing with mosquitos and no broadband. It was certainly a memorable experience.
Mark has always encouraged flexible working, pushing for change 14 years ago when ‘face time’ was an important part of law and agile working less so. Today, I work outside of the office more than in it and still have the best work to do.
Kate Tomlinson is part of the 120+ managing partners, C-level executives and business services leaders gathering on the 25 September 2018 at the Business Leadership Summit in association with Propero to spend a day focusing on defining your law firm strategy in a tech-driven future. For more information on the conference, a copy of the agenda, or to inquire about attending, please contact Nathan Graham on +44(0) 20 7970 4672.
The penalties imposed on individuals for fatal accidents in the workplace are set to increase after the Sentencing Council for England and Wales published its definitive sentencing guideline for gross negligence manslaughter. Walker Morris health and safety experts, Stuart Ponting and Robert Starr, consider the new guideline and the implications for employers and directors…
This energy update includes the following white papers: CMA publishes final report on Heat Networks calling for new regulation The first National Infrastructure Assessment is published recommending growth in Green Energy NAO report on package recycling Update on Electric Vehicles Amendment Regulations 2018 – in force 24 July 2018 The Mayor of London’s Energy Efficiency […]
By Katherine Evans On 24 July 2018, the long-awaited revised NPPF was released. The omission of social rented homes from definition of affordable housing in Annex 2 of the draft revised NPPF has been addressed. Starter Homes are now included in the definition but secondary legislation is still required to set out financial eligibility for […]
As foreseen in our previous newsflash, the law on VAT grouping has officially been published, last Friday. The text – which provides for an entry into force on 31 July 2018 – modifies the general VAT Law. It now enables Luxembourg entities sharing financial, economic and organisational links to set up a VAT group, thus allowing them to […]
By Edward J. Dougherty Following a recent reform in 2015, the Portuguese pricing and reimbursement system is sophisticated and comprehensive. Nevertheless, substantial discretion is allowed to the competent national authority, and this is the source of most challenges for innovators…
Software company Mozilla, the company behind the Firefox browser, has brought in a new general counsel from social media giant Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters. Amy Keating will join Mozilla in early September after six years as Twitter’s deputy general counsel. She replaces Jishnu Menon, who left for Netflix in May. The move will be Keating’s latest […]
Burges Salmon is making technology a priority with a new raft of appointments and investments aimed at revolutionising legal service delivery. The firm’s Business Solutions team is set to welcome former senior associate Emma Sorrell as legal innovation specialist and former integration specialist Ian Huddart as technology innovation specialist. It has also subscribed to powerhouse […]
Lawyers from RPC have had their actions described as falling “someway short of what competent solicitors would have done” as a district court judge in Leeds declined the firm’s application to throw out a professional negligence claim against it. RPC had been advising the founder of tech company Stayput Solutions Deborah Forster during her protracted legal […]
Kirkland & Ellis has won a first-time mandate from struggling DIY chain Homebase, which earlier today confirmed it was planning a company voluntary arrangement (CVA). Homebase is the latest retailer to announce such a move and follows in the wake of similar CVAs entered into by New Look, Prezzo and Mothercare. A CVA can be used by […]
Royal Mail, advised by a team from Ashurst, has been unable to fend off a £50m fine from Ofcom, after an investigation into the business’s practices in 2014 found the delivery giant had “abused its dominant position in bulk mail delivery”. Three-partner firm Towerhouse advised Whistl, then known as TNT, which was trying to break into […]
Weil Gotshal & Manges and Slaughter and May have advised on the £1.2bn buyout of esure to Bain Capital in one of the largest insurance deals of the year so far. Slaughters led for esure, the owner of insurance brand Sheilas’ Wheels and former owner of price comparison website Gocompare.com. The deal team was led by corporate […]