Navigate the next three years with clarity and confidence: Legal leaders share their insights
The pandemic forced firms to adapt and evolve out of necessity, not out of design. Remote meetings. Flexible work hours. New tech platforms.
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So as your business emerges from the challenges of the past two years, what changes should you embrace and amplify to address shifting market trends?
And which elements are essential to your post-pandemic strategy?
Chief executives Genevieve Collins (Lander & Rogers) and Warrick McLean (Coleman Greig Lawyers) share their insights to help you plan the next three years from a place of strength.
Value what your people (and your clients) value
“Navigating past the pandemic, firms have experienced less of a Great Resignation and more of a Great Reset. After successive lockdowns, especially in Melbourne, I saw our people significantly reset their priorities,” says Genevieve Collins, Chief Executive Partner at Lander & Rogers.
Likewise, Warrick McLean, CEO of Coleman Greig Lawyers, encourages legal leaders to re-examine their value set.
“Legal professionals now have greater perspective and confidence to choose who they want to work for. So as a firm, you need to demonstrate the progress you’ve made, what you can offer and what you stand for,” says Warrick.
Genevieve’s leadership team conducts regular pulse surveys to check in with staff. And unsurprisingly, they have come to value flexible, hybrid working.
But perhaps more interesting are the value shifts.
“We recently sent a survey on the environment and received a 70% response rate in the first 20 minutes. Everyone who wasn't in court or with a client shared their thoughts then and there. It highlighted how deeply our people care about the environment.
“And the same trend emerged in tenders from our corporate clients. The focus was – and remains – on areas like cybersecurity and the expertise we bring. But now, clients also want to see our sustainability targets and what action we’re taking.”
Form your firm’s strategy around technology and flexibility
Warrick advises that post-COVID plans must address three core pillars: values, technology and flexibility.
“Looking at technology, early in the pandemic, many firms rushed to Zoom to simply remain functioning. Now, everyone has embraced Office 365 and Teams. From a financial and workflow perspective, firms need to integrate and amplify the platforms they've invested in.”
To retain (and attract) top talent after the disruptions of the past two years, Warrick encourages firms to incorporate flexible work as standard.
“I’ve seen many organisations adopt arrangements like Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the office to connect together. And then everyone works from home on Monday and Friday to retain that work-life balance we’ve come to value and expect.
“These hybrid ways of working are no longer the new normal. They’re just the norm,” says Warrick.
Looking forward, Genevieve believes firms should build their strategy around the goals their people want to achieve. From accelerating positive social change to boosting revenue growth to strengthening professional development.
“To get everyone on board to drive your business forward, your strategy must be organic and authentic.
“You need to understand what’s important to your people – their aspirations, values and purpose. At Lander & Rogers, we've amplified our environment impact because that’s what’s important to our people,” says Genevieve.
Explore and strengthen new opportunities
The pandemic has brought not only change, but new opportunities too.
Genevieve is seeing shifting market trends, with fields like employment law, family law and environmental law continuing to grow.
Likewise, the pivot to virtual interactions is here to stay.
“It's just so convenient. And it supports our sustainability focus by eliminating transport emissions altogether,” says Genevieve.
Building on this, Warrick highlights how so much change in the profession would not have been achieved without COVID-19.
“From the way lawyers interact remotely with courts to small, yet influential, technological advances like electronic signatures. These efficiency boosts have become the standard.
“We've all had a taste of it over the last 24 months. Now, businesses looking to leap ahead need to utilise these experiences in a more controlled, strategic way,” says Warrick.
With these new interactions, firms can operate outside their local area – expanding into new geographic markets while building richer relationships with remote clients.
“At Coleman Greig Lawyers, we receive many referrals from regional NSW. Clients can be based in Griffith, Dubbo or Tamworth – it doesn't matter. Through technology, our team can action matters much more quickly than before.”
Warrick also highlights the greater access to justice. Clients and lawyers no longer need to physically be present at court – resulting in more efficient matter management and cost savings for clients.
Collaborating and communicating will remain key
Over the past two years, many junior staff lacked in-person osmosis opportunities to develop as professionals. To help foster connections and impromptu learnings, Warrick and his team moved to a new, open office.
“Our junior staff are surprised when they find they’re sitting next to me and other senior leaders for the day. While it’s a great learning experience for them, the insights I absorb on the ground can't be understated.
“Collaboration was the buzzword before COVID-19. Now it’s going to be vital to any successful business plan from here on in. Often, I do my best work in those 5-minute, incidental conversations with our people,” says Warrick.
Reflecting on workplace dynamics, Genevieve – whose team also works in a collaborative office – values the collective pivot to virtual work as an important leveller across organisations.
“There's less hierarchy with remote work. For two years we were all on level-footing from our makeshift home offices.”
To retain the benefits of this equalisation, Genevieve encourages leaders to be open and transparent. She holds monthly ‘ask me anything’ sessions with her staff where they can submit anonymously and question her about anything.
“Because of COVID-19, this over-communication became part of our culture and people love it. And as a result, they share how they feel more connected to our firm than ever before.
“When you communicate your strategy clearly and listen to your team, your people will value and respect your transparency,” advises Genevieve.
Want to spearhead your organisation into the future?
It’s clear your business needs a robust strategy to navigate what’s ahead with confidence. So enrol in the College’s Business Strategy 6 week short course, with the next start date intake starting 28 February 2022.
By the end of the course, you will have developed your own, cutting-edge strategic plan based on your learnings. One that will serve you now – and well into the future.