On 12 February 2021, the Centre for Legal Innovation (CLI) hosted an insightful webinar entitled ‘Future of Work: Hands to head to hearts!’, facilitated by our Legally Yours CEO, Karen Finch. Panelists shared their vision for how lawyers can continue to add value to clients:
- Martine Barclay – Principal Psychotherapist, Leadership Coach & Wellbeing Expert from Redefine Your Edge
- Tom Dreyfus – CEO & Co-Founder of Joseph Legal
- Sarah El-Atm – General Manager of August and Distinguished Fellow at CLI
- Louise Ferris – Chief People Officer of McCullough Robertson
Tom Dreyfus spoke about clients’ evolving expectations and the parallel desire of law graduates to engage in high-value and strategic work. Dreyfus highlighted that by embracing technology to automate mundane tasks, young lawyers would have more opportunity to engage in meaningful work that best serves the client. Citing that 5 billion people have unmet justice needs, the CEO of Joseph Legal believes in building a better future for the legal profession. He sees using automation technology as giving lawyers “superpowers” to connect with clients and find meaning in their work. Dreyfus suggests we should “put a lid on the instinctive risk aversion” to adapt to the fast-paced evolution of lawyering and client expectations.
Sarah El-Atm discussed the benefits of building multi-disciplinary teams within a business. Diverse teams have been found to outperform homogenous ones as they tend to focus more on the facts and have a unique curiosity and resilience, adapting quickly to changing circumstances. El-Atm used a marathon as an analogy for building multi-disciplinary teams, acknowledging it is a long-term project with distinct challenges. She noted that businesses might make mistakes in their first hires and must engage in “difficult conversations” to ensure the team is aligned by a common purpose. However, she emphasised that “value-based hiring” and identifying specific attributes to encourage within the team will reap the long-term rewards. Not sure where to start? El-Atm suggested training for this “marathon” by becoming literate in topics such as collaboration, diversity, and inclusion. While your first few hires might be your biggest mistake, El-Atm encouraged those embarking on this journey to create space to drive change forward and, quoting the Roman Philosopher Seneca, “don’t stumble on the things behind you”.
Louise Ferris, Chief People Officer at McCullough Robertson, shared how her firm is achieving their purpose of “unlocking success together”. The firm has worked on sharing an understanding of the employee experience and the client journey map to create an environment in which lawyers are motivated to add value. Ferris broke down the employee experience into five key areas, which contribute to a “shared mindset”. A client journey map collaboratively constructed by the firm shows employees how every employee contributes to adding value to the client experience. Ferris emphasises that investing time in forming and maintaining quality relationships is essential. Her key message was that “we are better together”.
Martine Barclay urged the audience to engage with their heart at work or “risk getting left behind”. If lawyers do not engage with their heart in building relationships with clients, clients will seek this from the firm’s competition. Barclay emphasised that the work of lawyers is highly relational, and the expectations of clients are constantly changing. “Be your own best friend”, Barclay says. Self-criticism takes a lot of energy that could be spent building meaningful relationships in the workplace. Strong leaders do not hold themselves hostage after making a mistake but rather put others first and instil hope in the team. People notice when you lead from your heart, and you could be “on the road to burnout” if you do not. She encourages the audience to “understand why you do what you do”.
If we could combine all the visions shared into one law firm, it would be one at which graduates would dream of starting their career. It would be a workplace in which lawyers would use their hands to complete high-value work, use their heads to collaborate with multidisciplinary teams with a shared purpose of adding value, and use their hearts to build strong relationships. Now, if that is the future of work, then the future looks very bright.
This article was written by Legally Yours Intern, Monique Walker
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