By Ajuni Chawla.
This paper focuses on how legal professionals can derive maximum value from the practice and business of law in an intelligent, human centric manner. I have laid out methodologies, theories and design thinking tools to ensure lawyers are well-equipped to enhance their daily practices and realize competitive advantage, team harmony, management efficiency and incrementing revenue.
“Clients rarely complain about the quality of legal work or the level of knowledge of lawyers advising them; but they frequently express concern about the mechanics of the working relationship between client and firm.”
-Richard Susskind, Author, speaker, and an independent adviser to major professional firms and to national governments.
A nice meal at a world-class eatery goes a long way in winning the loyalty of a business. The acceleration in professional and personal lives has left many accustomed to instantaneous access and more transparency in their dealings, making information- the dish that tempts the appetite of any client- whether it is a legal practice or any other business model. Clients look for a flow of information that is not only concised, streamlined and regular- but also speedy, accurate in real time and more interactive.
Traditionally, the means of doing legal business were fiercely guarded, insulating its processes from the scrutiny of its clients as well as team members- in order to prevent those clients and members from uncovering a piece of information or process that might be used to negotiate a better price or take their business. Just like days of waiting to check the next morning’s court listing or judgement copy is a thing of the past- technology is changing and rewriting those old rules- it is needless to mention that transparency is in and barriers are out.
At this juncture, it is essential to lay out intelligent processes that would reduce risks of being transparent while increasing the loyalty of your client and team member.
Get Smart About Your Legal Practice’s Data and Information.
- By humanizing, not automating!
The industry’s leading firms are already investing in intelligence softwares to strengthen their business development and competitive advantage. Thanks to software-as-a-service models, access to intelligence solutions is a cost-effective investment that quickly results in a tangible ROI for the firm.
With the world moving towards digitalization- this is in fact a perfect opportunity to utilize and derive value from the data that already exists in your legal practice. But before we move ahead and start adopting or building multifaceted solutions- lets truly understand the intricacies behind legal business data, competitive intelligence, and client relationship insights- so we are able to make decisions backed by constructive in-depth knowledge.
Call for Action?
Strategize - “Strategy”- an integral part of legal practice- is also equally vital and mostly ignored when it comes to business of law. It is laying out a plan for the future inorder to achieve the objectives of your firm! Now- many of you might know what you are looking for, while some may be completely blank as to what to expect and prefer going with the flow. Example:
Win new business ⇒ Find industries that need legal services
Be a value-building partner ⇒ Support the insight of research teams
Service development & innovation ⇒ Develop value add services to meet changing market demands
Prepare - Planning is preparing! It is followed by thinking on the strategy and further ensuring that it is actionable. Also known as an implementation plan- it is when you document next steps you need to take to successfully reach your strategized goals. Example:
Stronger client proposals ⇒ Tailor service to win new clients and maintain current ones
Client-focused research ⇒ Mitigate risk before accepting a client
Meet and greets ⇒ Have need-to-know facts and figures on clients before meetings/calls
Strengthen - Whether you are just starting out or have been practicing law since a while now- strengthening the very foundation and operations of your business side of practice would maximise your success rate and also prepare you for any unseen challenges. Example:
Client service and retention ⇒ Understand the client's industry issues
Business advisory services ⇒ Provide more personalized services
Operational-focused, unbiased advice ⇒ Compare against information issued by investment banks and private equity groups
Moving Forward... How?
Setting up internal workshops can help explore, sustain and implement objectives for your firm. These can be moderated by internal or external experts. Many workshops start small, including just the immediate members of project teams. However, as interest grows, the workshops can expand to include participants from other functions and operations who want to be involved in improving their practices in accordance with your firm's vision. Workshops can help you address and change- management, team and client issues that inevitably arise during the course of your business. They enable your team to work on the same page- learn from each other and share what works and what does not.
Here are a few activities and strategies that can be incorporated by your firm to advance an innovative road map for your future success!
Practice of law is all about creating value for your clients and so business of law is to ensure that you are able to add lasting value to your client’s lives so your results show for it and that client stays with you!
Customer Intelligence is widely adopted by several pioneering businesses-who are finding that their ability to build customer loyalty and win new businesses. Though this can be easily achieved through technological inclusion, it's crucial to develop and refine skills to understand and address rapid changes in customers’ environments and behaviors by framing human-centric ways to focus on your end-users perspective.
This can be done effectively by incorporating a vital tool of design thinking called the “Empathy Map”. It allows you to set aside your own assumptions about your service and gain real insight into your end-users and their needs.
Business Emotional Intelligence
Emotions drive behavior. They are at the heart of the energy that drives motivation and commitment in any business. They can bring magic or misery to individuals, work teams and groups.
Business EQ is a practical work based approach to Intelligence that helps leaders and teams to understand why people behave the way they do and how to maximise their engagement with and performance at work. It advances management of critical emotions and behaviours and success of leaders and teams.
The key to Business EQ is self awareness and awareness of others in your team- adapting emotional and behaviours at work (EBW) team psychometric assessment tools would be powerful in measuring change at an individual as well as group level. It would also create balance at work as assessing insights on core drivers that underpin performance would be easier.
EBW Team Psychometric Assessment Tool
One of the quickest ways to set-off competition is to provide your clients with high quality service. One might wonder what differs one lawyer from another- apart from the experience of course- the way you plan, organise, deliver and strengthen your client relationship, while also providing resources to retain talent. The best way to achieve these goals is to gain access to competitive intelligence by conducting a systematic and ethical workshop for gathering, analyzing, and managing information that can affect your company’s plans, decisions, and operations. The gathering and analysis of information allows for advanced identification of risks and opportunities in the competitive arena.
Competitive Intelligence Process
Comprehensive Market Intelligence
Understanding and learning what's happening in the world outside your practice- allows you to set aside your own assumptions about the world and gain real insight into users- their needs, behaviour patterns and trends.
You can be as competitive as possible- but learning as much as possible about the business and country's general political and social landscape in general, empowers you to anticipate opportunities and face challenges head on. In order to promote effective strategy and confident decision making, you must consider the latest data and information encompassing and forming a market intelligence report.
Comprehensive Market Intelligence
“Design Thinking: The Beginners Guide” – an excellent guide to get you started on your own Design Thinking projects: https://www.interaction-design.org/courses/design-thinking-the-beginner-s-guide
Why Law Firms need access to market intelligence: https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-insider/law-firms/why-law-firms-need-access-to-market-intelligence/
Why Industry Information Matters: https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-insider/how-to-use-industry-research/why-industry-information-matters/
Shaping Business Strategy through Competitive Advantage: https://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/sme/en/wipo_smes_bik_13/wipo_smes_bik_13_k_pierre_el_khoury.pdf
About the Author Ajuni Chawla is a young lawyer with a zeal to create a meaningful change using her passion tor innovation, creativity and holistic learning. She works very closely with topics at the intersection of law, technology, design thinking & community building- and is currently working on a Startup that she founded when she was in law college- Eye Z Legal- that urges individuals to envision the legal industry in a holistic way.
She also practices Legal Service Design and consults with a focus on accessible and sustainable delivery of legal services. She is the technology lead at International Legal Alliance, a Facilitator at the Legal Creatives' Cohort, Pereko Foundations' Business Design Bootcamp and an organiser for Mumbai Legal Hackers.