How much importance do you think your clients place on how legal advice is delivered (ie in person versus technology-driven)?
I think that in-house teams have quite rightly placed increasing importance on how legal advice has been delivered to their colleagues in the business in order to ensure that the legal team is seen as an essential and integral business unit rather than a remote department that is perceived as “deal blocking”. Sometimes this has resulted in businesses being over serviced by a legal team that leans in and reviews anything that is written down. Going forwards I expect that clients will want advice provided in a way that delivers best value whilst the end customer experience is preserved. This relies on a carefully designed combination of personal service supported by process and technology.
What are the most traditional aspects of law that are difficult to change in a NewLaw strategy?
An effective NewLaw strategy will normally steer clear of traditional aspects of law that are difficult to change. Where bespoke, complex and one-off pieces of advice are needed then that should be left to more traditional ways of delivering advice. NewLaw can play its role by removing the need for expensive advisers to perform repeatable tasks which can be processed, automated and trained such that a lower cost but competent resource can deliver it to the same quality standards. The area that is the hardest to do, but where we are seeing significant opportunities, is where traditional advisory is integrated with NewLaw process and technology efficiencies to the client’s benefit.
How do you start the process of combining the two and how can you do it successfully?
Mindcrest start any process by looking at how it is currently delivered and then we look at how the three levers of people, process and technology can be used and manipulated to create an optimised future state. We process map everything including the interaction between our traditional advisers and Mindcrest to ensure that all escalations and “hand offs” are appropriately managed. This ALSP+ model means that we can take NewLaw into areas where historically it could not go.
We often talk about what Old Law can learn from New Law but do you think this burgeoning area can learn from the past too?
I do think that New Law can learn from the relationship skills shown by Old Law in the delivery of the work. It is relatively easy these days to create a legal front door which can operate as a portal to receive all new instructions but it is understandable that in-house legal teams need to understand how this will “feel” to the end customer. In my view it is still important that business units receive a phone call from an individual saying that they will be working on their matter personally and confirming service levels and key details so that the business knows that the matter is in hand. Too often New Law get this wrong.
What’s a misconception of New Law that you think most people have in the market?
Many people think that New Law is easy and doesn’t take much effort when in fact the opposite is true. It takes a huge amount of intelligence, knowledge, diligence and discipline to design a process that is capable of delivering quality outcomes for businesses at a lower cost. Everything is considered and nothing is left to chance.
Who has been the biggest influence in your career?
Rex Parry (who is now at Rumbo Limited) was my first boss on qualification who taught me a huge amount in terms of the law, how to deliver a quality service that exceeds client expectations and the meaning of hard work. Rex never accepted second best and he taught me how much clients valued that. I owe him a pint.
Tell us about a career defining moment in your life.
I would have to say that this happened twelve weeks ago when I stepped away from my 25 year career as a traditional Old Law lawyer to have my eyes opened wide by the unbounded art of the possible here at Mindcrest.