A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

2019 ALPMA/NexisLexis Thought Leadership Awards

Monday, July 01, 2019

Entries are now open for the 2019 ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Awards

The ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Awards seek to recognise any project where a law firm is doing things differently across all aspects of operations, business development and technology. 
Entries are now open for the seventh annual ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Awards and nominations can be submitted up until 12 July 2019.

Winners will be presented at a gala dinner to be held at the Plaza Ballroom on Thursday 5 September 2019 in Melbourne as part of the 2019 ALPMA Summit. 

ALPMA President Dion Cusack believes the 2019 ALPMA Summit with a theme of Road Map to Transformation – Move Forward with Confidence is the perfect opportunity to recognise innovation.
“Operating within a rapidly changing industry can be daunting, and even more so, without a clear framework in place. The ALPMA Summit will provide guidance about how to best approach the changing world we live in and assist to answer critical questions that define the pathway forwards. The ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Award acknowledges those who are already leading the way,” said Mr Cusack. 
With a simple online entry system and only five questions to answer, the ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Awards are designed to have a straightforward entry process with no outside help or agency assistance needed. 
Award entrants should provide an overview of their project or innovation, with a short outline of how it overcomes defined industry challenges, its impact on staff and customers, and why it deserves recognition. 
LexisNexis returns as the sponsor of the Awards in 2019, continuing a valuable partnership that LexisNexis Managing Director Australia, Mr Simon Wilkins, says just makes sense. 
“We’re delighted to be continuing our partnership with ALPMA to identify the legal industry’s most forward-thinking projects and people. By combining the legal expertise and resources of LexisNexis with ALPMA’s outstanding industry knowledge, we are expecting the judging of this year’s awards to again be a valuable process for both nominees and the industry at large,” said Mr Wilkins. 
In 2018 the ALPMA/LexisNexis Thought Leadership Award was presented to Adieu Legal for its Consensus Accelerator Program, a collaborative divorce platform, combining artificial intelligence with family law experts to create a ‘consensus accelerator’, reaching property and financial settlements in a fraction of the traditional time.
Andrew Wight, CEO of Adieu Legal, was thrilled with the win, saying the consensus accelerator is an audacious project, particularly for the legal industry.

“We’re aiming to completely change the way that humans resolve conflict. Our technology helps people to come to agreements that have legal and financial complexity, in time frames that just weren’t possible before,” said Mr Wight. 

In addition to Adieu Legal, previous Awards winners include Mills Oakley, Maddocks, LegalVision, Hive Legal and Anderssen Lawyers. 
The Thought Leadership Awards are open now, with entries closing on 12 July. Firms wishing to enter must be an ALPMA member and must also be available in Sydney for filming on 12 August.  

More information and the online entry form are available here.  

What's the Real Cost Of That Printed Page?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

By Matthew Hollings, Sales Manager – Queensland, Law In Order

It has now been almost four years since I stood at a multi-function printer overlooking the Brisbane River at about 7pm, running off several copies of a brief to Counsel. It was most certainly not my first, but it definitely was my last! 

In the time since that moment I have made it my personal mission, through my role with Law In Order, to help lawyers and their teams understand the true costs associated with a staple task of administrative assistants, paralegals, and (more frequently than we would like to admit) graduate and junior lawyers.  

So before you consider how to manage or mitigate some of these costs, it is important to get an understanding of what they are. 

Actual Cost 

The first category of cost is the most obvious, being the real, tangible and measurable costs of producing a document, brief, etc. Some examples are as follows: 
  • Labour: whether that be legal/administrative assistants, paralegals or lawyers physically producing the brief.
  • Materials: the hundreds of reams of paper and litres of ink consumed each day/week/month/year. 
  • Equipment: enough heavy machinery to ensure those documents and briefs are produced quickly and efficiently. 
  • Electricity: naturally, your heavy machinery requires electricity to run. 
  • Floor Space: depending on how heavy your heavy machinery is and how many you have, it could take up quite a bit of space across the firm’s physical footprint. 

It’s important to note that all of the above are costs that are seen to rise every year, due to things like the general labour market conditions, increasing energy costs and the premium placed on corporate office space. It also doesn’t help that we are living in an increasingly digital world, where data production is growing exponentially, the traditional approach to document production (i.e. print that data), is fast becoming an increasingly cumbersome and time-consuming process for document production. 

Opportunity Cost 

For me, this is the most important consideration but one that is not always taken into account when assessing the costs associated with legal document production. This is ordinarily where the largest “saving” or “gain” can be made. 

For the uninitiated, opportunity cost is defined as “the loss of other alternatives when one alternative is chosen”. 

The highest opportunity cost in relation to production will generally come when a junior lawyer or, heaven forbid, a senior lawyer has to attend to that task. Clearly, in situations like this, the opportunity cost is the loss of ability to generate a billable hour. In saying that though, the opportunity cost could also be an earlier (than 10pm) finish for that lawyer, which may mean they begin to get overworked and burn out, incurring the mental cost referred to below. 

A similar opportunity cost can still exist when other employees, such as paralegals or administrative assistants, undertake the work. Whilst their ability to bill may be less and therefore a reduced opportunity cost, it’s an easy argument to make that those people, if effective, could be carrying out far more valuable work for the organisation. 

Mental Cost 

It is the goal of any firm to be considered a good employer with many striving to achieve the coveted tag of an employer of choice by generally demonstrating characteristics of well-managed, high-performing, industry leading organisations that provide a stimulating and supportive workplace. 

Naturally, employers of choice will, generally speaking, attract greater talent (which attracts better clients), have increased staff retention (reduces staff turnover costs) and have higher levels of growth and general business success (who doesn’t want that?!). 

In my time as a lawyer and now working with lawyer clients at Law In Order, I have met very few people who cite the large scale (or even small scale) production of documents as the highlight of their day or the reason they get up and go to work every day. In fact, very few organisations are well equipped to deal with the increased technical complexity associated with document production or have the scale to invest in the equipment that makes the job easier and faster to complete. As a result, you can have teams of people spend hours or even days (believe me, it happens), producing documents for trial – not an ideal situation in anyone’s view - and the toll that can take in an already stressful and pressurised environment can be enormous. 

Environmental Cost 

And last but certainly not least is the environmental cost of production. The data sizes that lawyers look to print are not getting any smaller. In fact, research suggests that the relevant data in the data universe will continue to grow exponentially year on year – with zero signs of that slowing down. 

Increasingly, businesses are placing a focus on the environmental sustainability of their actions. Given most of you reading this are lawyers, were lawyers or work in a legal environment, it won’t be news to you to know that lawyers are some of the worst when it comes to sustainable paper production! Admittedly, there are legal principles and processes that do require this to happen but investments can be made to limit or reduce the environmental impacts this activity can have. There are a number of things that can be done to improve this, such as invest in better equipment or adopt some legal technology to help you sort, de-duplicate or digitise your documents, but unfortunately firms aren’t always in a position to make those changes (due to things like scope, size or cost) and as such this cost continues to climb. 

Combatting These Rising Costs? 

In this incredibly complex and evolving legal landscape, we acknowledge that there isn’t always a simple solution and what works for one client may not work for another. What can be clearly acknowledged though, is that there is far greater cost associated with hitting “Ctrl+P” than you might have initially thought. 

Established in 1999, Law In Order is the leading supplier of end to end document and digital solutions to the legal industry providing expert litigation support through our cost-effective document production, expert discovery management and specialist court services. Law In Order has offices in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Singapore, Hong Kong and India that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This ensures that our clients have unrestricted access to the services they require and are able to contact experienced litigation support professionals for assistance and advice at any time. For more information, email us or call 1300 004 667. To find out more, visit the Law In Order website,

About our Guest Blogger

Matthew Hollings is the Sales Manager – Queensland for Law In Order. He has over 10 years combined experience in law and sales in the private sector. He is a committed and outcome driven leader who has a passion for the law and a desire to see those who practice it do so in the most efficient way possible. He uses his intimate knowledge of legal industry practice to provide tailored and functional legal support solutions to all clients (from sole practitioners all the way through to large multi-national private practices and in-house teams) to assist in alleviating the increased burdens in administrative pressures and workloads in a commercially viable manner so that those lawyers can focus on what they do best - practice law.

Connect with Matthew on LinkedIn

Making Partners and Senior Lawyers Into Coaches: Double Hatting for Optimum Results

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

By Linda Murray, Executive Coach, Athena Coaching

Typically, when one thinks of lawyers, the word “coach” is not what instantly comes to mind. Advocate, aggressive, “courtroom killer” is what many people outside the profession still think of lawyers.  Which we in the profession know is a slight distortion of the truth and not representative of the whole.  

What may surprise you to know in light of sometimes fearsome or at least adversarial reputations, however, is that many lawyers make incredible coaches given the opportunity. In fact, the skills of many lawyers; active listening, critical thinking, an ability to analyse information quickly and a natural disposition to be innovative problem solvers can add to their ability to adapt to a coaching model quickly and effectively. This is, of course, if they are provided with the right training, tools and framework.  

Many lawyers that leave the law go on to have incredibly successful careers as professional coaches (also as comedians according to my research). Why not cultivate that within your firm across all staff, to bring the benefit of coaching as a modality to all levels of your business, rather than have those that may be truly gifted in this skillset leave and pursue it as a standalone career? 

Generally speaking, leaders and managers need to be effective coaches to help their teams improve their existing skills and pick up new ones. If you think about your firm or practice, do your managers see themselves as coaches? 

Do they know what coaching really is? 
If not, how can you change that?  
How do you up-skill your leaders to reach their employees in ways they never have before? 

The following five strategies can help you make the case for coaching in your organisation and help your managers improve their coaching abilities.

1. Identify the benefits of coaching

Do the leadership team/Partners in your organisation understand the importance of coaching? Critically, they have to see it as a valuable time investment to (a) learn and (b) implement, if it is truly take off in an organisation.   

Lawyers by nature can be single-minded in achieving their personal goals/targets, as many firms are set up to reward this quality above others, with people management sometimes as a mere afterthought or something done “because you have to”. This does not need to be so. Coaching can also be seen in a negative light as something brought in as a remediation method when things are not going well, rather than a proactive tool to bring out the best in your teams. As with everything introduced that is of benefit to employees, how they actually see it themselves is what matters. 

Coaching can actually really help lawyers to become better all-round practitioners, it can elevate empathy and encourage participation in the growth and culture of the firm beyond their practice groups. It is a proven methodology that demonstrates a firm's investment in its people provided it is introduced and supported by those in the practice management team/partnership. 

Truthfully though, this is all good and well, but unless your senior leaders know how important coaching can be to elevating team morale, development and overall performance, they are unlikely to invest time and effort into becoming a great coach and better leader. Why would they? Becoming a good coach, skilled enough to elicit exceptional advantage, takes time, effort and energy in a really busy world.  

One of the most critical benefits I will share with all managers even considering coaching is this: Partners and firm leaders are there to help their teams and their people excel in their roles, that is often only able to be brought to life via consistent coaching.  

Make certain you’ve made the case for coaching to your leadership team and stress the importance coaching now holds in your corporate culture.

2. Coach the coaches

Coaching is a very specific skill set and very few of us are born with all the skills of a great coach. Accordingly, your managers may need help in adapting to this part of their role and support to integrate it fully so it becomes second nature and their default setting. 

Remember, some of them may never have worked with a coach before so they may be unfamiliar with how coaches work or what the difference is between coaching, mentoring and managing. 

Invest in professional coaching and mentoring for your managers. Let them experience being coached so they understand how it feels and can discover the benefits. That’s a great foundation on which to build their own coaching skills. 

3. Make people the priority; not profit or performance

Productivity, profit and performance are the by-product of what is created by ... let me hear you say it ... PEOPLE. In law firms, especially those operating on an older style partnership-strict-hierarchy model, people are merely resources. However, this can change quickly, and radically, if you invest in coaching in a meaningful, firm-wide way.  

In fact, some of the downsides of the nature of the practice of law; the desire for perfection, working to demanding deadlines, the intense scrutiny of work product day in day out, actually really lend themselves to gaining great benefit from coaches within the firm itself. This being the everyday norm for these practitioners, means they can benefit greatly from this coming from those that truly understand their needs and issues. It can also provide them with holistic solutions that treat them as humans with needs outside the firm, not just resources within it. It also identifies areas that could cause problems down the line professionally, and head them off at the pass. It’s an incredibly powerful proactive tool. 

And so, with a desire for change and a mental shift at a senior level, people start to take priority, and as a byproduct of this morale and productivity rise. This creates a happier and healthier workplace where people really feel valued, regardless of the heavy demands placed on them professionally.  

One note of caution: while you’re changing things to adapt to a new way of supporting your staff, don’t forget to model the behaviours you want your managers to adopt. They will do what you do so be aware of the image and performance you’re giving out.

4. Seizing the moment is important - formal versus informal

Keep the focus on your people and coach in the moment, go with your gut.

Great coaches know that when people are ready to learn, when they have a problem or question they need help with, it’s an in-built opportunity to coach and guide your team members’ learning. Experienced coaches get that, and seize upon it and make the most of the momentum and the experience. You can train your senior staff to be just that person. 

Show your managers that coaching doesn’t only have to be a formal arrangement by coaching them on the go, too. The key is flexibility and dexterity. Especially in a highly demanding and fast-paced environment.  

Of course, always ask for permission first and ensure it is an appropriate environment for such a conversation.

5. Great systems make great coaches

Your internal systems need to support this new approach. It’s important that a professional development system, which integrates formal learning with mentoring and self-reflection is put into place. Without a system in place, it’s easy to slip back into the old ways of doing things. You’ll also need to check your systems are working and you can do that through tools like 360-degree feedback.

People don’t want to be told all the time; they do want to be shown. They want to learn, and they learn best by doing. Coaching combines the best of all this and produces results. In fact, a survey by the International Coaching Federation (ICF) showed organisations which use coaching have an improved financial performance, which probably comes from the improved workplace engagement and job performance coaching brings in the employees.

Are you ready to be a coach? Is your organisation ready to take a coaching focus?  Executive Coaching will give you the skills, knowledge and practice you need to become a solid leader with a sound coaching focus. Talk to us today about how we can help your leaders and managers to become great coaches for your organisation.

About our Guest Blogger

Linda Murray is the Founder, Facilitator, Speaker and Executive Coach at Athena Leadership Academy; the professional development hub for high performing and high potential leaders.

Linda ensures that your leaders and your teams are engaged, motivated and empowered to achieve the best results for your business.

Linda has run her own successful businesses since age 22, so understands what it takes to maximise the performance of yourself and those around you.

Connect with Linda on social media

LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/lindamurrayathena/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AthenaCoaching
Twitter – https://twitter.com/athena_coaching
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPZWA24o0iohBl1O0LQxEkw

Easing the Pain of Documentation

Monday, April 29, 2019

By Derek Lawton, Legal Solutions Manager APAC, Kofax

Whether your firm is a large legal organisation or a small practice, there is no escaping documentation. It permeates through all aspects of a legal firm - from case matters and general communication to IT, marketing, resources and finance. What’s more, the constant ebb and flow of document creation is usually time consuming and costly. But technology can ease much of the documentation pain. Here’s how:

Taming the monthly billing cycle

If you’re the administrator of a legal firm, you can be forgiven for dreading the end of month invoicing process. 

Already time intensive and laborious, the invoicing process is also riddled with competing demands.

Older partners often prefer their invoice documents to be prepared in the traditional manner and printed on paper for checking and approval. Any corrections are usually made by hand and applied manually. The invoice is then reprinted, sighted and hopefully signed with minimum frustration and on time.

Younger partners however, tend to cringe at paper invoices. Many are happy to receive their invoices electronically and PDFs are often the order of the day. They are checked online with any comments or alterations highlighted directly on the digital invoice. 

Then of course, once all the invoices have been approved, there’s the small matter of delivery.

In keeping with their ways, older partners tend to prefer sending their invoices via snail mail, while for younger partners, email will suffice.

So yes, one can indeed be forgiven for dreading the challenges presented by the billing process. But thankfully, the process of creating invoice documents can be simplified thanks to a plethora of digital solutions. These can help make the billing process more responsive, efficient and productive. 

1. Automating with Data Capture Solutions  

A data capture solution can automate the invoice processing work flow by capturing and extracting data from paper or electronic documents for your immediate use, saving you time, paper and money.

Numerous choices are available, but the more polished options tend to provide greater capability. For instance, Nuance’s AutoStore can capture the invoice print stream from a range of practice management systems. Your invoices are then processed based on the preference of individual partners – either as a PDF or Microsoft Word document. 

It also delivers the invoices to one or multiple destinations according to your predetermined workflow. Partners requiring PDF invoices receive them via email, those requiring printed invoices can collect them from the MFP. 

Flexible and intelligent, data capture solutions tailor and simplify the invoice process to make it fast and efficient.

2. Greater Control and Security of Documents with Print Management System Solutions

The billing process can also be enhanced by using a Print Management System. This software lets partners wishing to receive paper invoice documents print them off without assistance at a designated MFP and at a time that suits them.

In addition to convenience, the more sophisticated Print Management Systems also deliver secure printing. Features such as Nuance’s Follow-You Printing can provide each partner with a unique ID that allows them to print only their relevant invoice documents, reducing the possibility of invoices falling into the wrong hands.

Also, thanks to your predetermined workflow and at the touch of a button, you can then print only the invoices that are required for mailing in colour, black or white, and on the preferred paper stock in a flash.

With an effective Print Management System in place, invoice documents are printed where and as required, and securely. The software helps make the billing workflow effortless, eliminating manual steps, and saving you time and money. 

3. Empowering Users with PDF Solutions

For partners wishing to receive their invoice documents as PDFs and make comments electronically, there are a variety of PDF solutions available.

Many offer a range of capability. With a few simple clicks, partners can mark up their PDF invoices, highlight sections, alter text, and add or delete information. 

The more feature-rich PDF solutions allow partners to compare invoices side by side, and search their invoices as well as convert, extract and import data. They also allow numerical data to be manipulated without losing or distorting figures and tables.

The right solution will empower partners and give them the tools they need to approve their invoice documents quickly. It will also help streamline your billing process, making it faster and more efficient.

Fast and Easy Document Creation Using Speech Recognition Software

Speech recognition software can be used by small and large legal firms to quickly and accurately create documents, helping you save time and money, while improving productivity.

Much faster than typing, the use of your voice lets you benefit from efficient dictation to produce all manner of documents. 

Lawyers can ‘write up’ legal notes, matters and briefs, and complete contracts by simply using their voice. While support staff can use speech recognition to create research papers, draft correspondence and prepare documents quickly and easily.

The more sophisticated solutions also feature a dedicated legal vocabulary for greater and faster dictation accuracy. They also let legal professionals create, import and share word lists specific to areas of speciality or clients. 

To speed up document creation, some offer automatic formatting of legal citations and allow legal professionals to not only quickly correct documents, but also have their pre-recorded audio files transcribed at the touch of a button.

Speech recognition solutions can also reduce the physical strain of typing documents. They help relieve stress on the hands and arms, and help prevent conditions such as RSI. Plus, most are easy to use as they require little training and tend to be quite intuitive. 

Without a doubt, for any busy legal office, the benefits of speech recognition are at the very least worth considering when it comes to document creation and management.

So, while the need to create documents cannot be eliminated, the process can at least be simplified by harnessing technology, which in turn, also helps you achieve greater efficiency and productivity.

About our Guest Blogger

Derek Lawton works at Kofax as the Legal Solutions Manager for the APAC region.  Derek specialises in the Kofax legal solution portfolio which includes desktop PDF, mobile apps, Microsoft Office plugins, cost recovery, print management and scan solutions with deep integrations into legal practice management and document management solutions.  Derek has delivered global solutions during his 10 years in London working with top tier UK and US law firms.  Over the last 10 years he has been based in Sydney responsible for Asia Pacific working with regional managers from global firms and national legal firms to increase revenue and productivity.  Outside of work you’ll find Derek and his 3 boys down at the beach surfing in summer or in the winter at the rugby pitches along the northern beaches of Sydney.

Connect with Derek on social media

LinkedIn - https://www.linkedin.com/in/dereklawton/

What Truly Motivates Your Team

Monday, April 22, 2019

By Linda Murray, Executive Coach, Athena Coaching


If I were to ask you what motivates your team, allow you to answer and then separately ask your team the same question, do you think your answers would match? How well do you think you know what your team really wants?

It’s a tough question to answer, but one thing is for sure. It’s never just about the money. Sure money is a motivator, but people are always about more than just a pay packet.

Lawyers particularly have some unique factors that impact upon the importance of understanding motivation for the longevity of tenure. These factors sit a little outside the typical employee motivation model and should be considered by you as practice managers when thinking about the factors that may best work for your team.   

The most critical of these distinguishing factors is that the goal of a law firm, indeed its entire business model if structured as a tiered partnership, is to get a certain proportion of lawyers to want to stay to become partners. To get them to want to take equity in the firm - to make them want to “buy in”, literally. To do that, they have to see a long term future with the firm and have their needs met consistently year in, year out. 

Which is not the norm these days. 

As the workforce undergoes radical change, values are shifting, attrition is rising and as each generation steps away from this more traditional structure, it is no mean feat to keep their motivation to stay at high levels. Especially for long periods of time.   

It’s especially interesting when you look at the typical life cycle of a lawyer; it takes 10-15 years to make it from graduate positions to partner as you know. This is longer than most marriages in this day and age and few industries have a slower rate of succession than law. This is a unique factor that makes law firms quite unlike most other industries, in that the whole model is predicated on people wanting to stay in their firm/job/career for really long periods of time. It also requires you as practice managers to really understand the intricacies of what’s required to really motivate your non-equity partners, lawyers and non-legal staff. 

The thing many leaders don’t understand is that a team is a collective of individuals who have different and indeed incredibly diverse, motivators. Mostly, they are not what you would expect. Many are non-fiscal. Some people want admiration or adoration, others want to change the world, yet others want to prove themselves in some way, and some just want to be seen at a very basic human level. Identifying these factors is half the battle, but there is also what you do with this information once you have worked it out.  

Lawyers are especially unusual in that they are taught that they are “different” from other professionals and are deserving of “more”. This comes from outside and inside the profession. 

Therefore, the dilemma for legal management is how to successfully corral these highly intellectual, frequently contentious and functionally independent lawyers so that they are motivated to achieve.  What do they really want? It really bears discussing this with them one on one, as they are all incredibly different. What works for one, will not work for another. Some want fast-track to partner, some want to be seen and praised consistently for their particular skill-set, some want consistent access to more education, some want to blow out their budget and be rewarded with bonuses, and some just love the intellectual rigour of more and more challenging work. 

The options are endless really: so take the chance to speak with them one to one and make your offering to them bespoke.

One thing I would suggest, learned through experience, is that whatever approach is enlisted though, must of necessity be subtle and deftly managed. Overt attempts to push anything onto a group of lawyers will likely be perceived as contrived and met with suspicion.  Gently does it, no need for sales techniques here, just tailored individual solutions that make them feel seen and heard as (somewhat competitive) individuals.  

So, more generally speaking, how do you pull all of these highly attuned human beings together to make a motivated and driven team?

Today we are going to talk about three overarching strategies that you can do to help your team motivate themselves to greatness, for one thing I know to be true, is that empowering people to want to achieve results is the only way to achieving meaningful results. 

1. Make sure everyone knows your vision and the organisation’s vision and why

It’s not so much the vision that’s the key here, although everyone needs to be on the same path, of course. It’s the why that matters. It’s not just millennials who want to make a difference; it’s almost everyone. The key to ensuring people are making a difference, is that they know how their contribution counts to achieving the vision. 

Let the vision be the unifying principle of these largely autonomously or siloed professional beings. It should be the framework in which they are contained, but with enough freedom to pursue their individual targets. The underlying premise of any attempt by firm management to lead is the willingness to allow the individual differences in combination with the effort to collaborate. 

The firm of course at a given point must emerge as an articulator and sponsor of the combined effort with the aim being to make the attorneys feel like contributors to its success while achieving their own goals. This is paramount in a system that praises lawyers for reaching individual billable/client targets and pushes them out for failure. 

In the law firm context, we are attempting to motivate individuals who can generally be characterised as highly intelligent, somewhat egocentric, frequently contentious by virtue of training and probably personality and functionally independent. Giving them a solid WHY is critical to success in this process.

2. Reward and recognition go a long way

When a team or team member does something good, praise them. Not just for reaching monthly targets, but for smaller things too. Many employees are used to being pulled up when they do something wrong but rarely hear positive feedback. When we have a success experience, we’re more likely to repeat it, so be loud and proud when it happens. 

In the face of what you perceive as failure, or as it is most commonly merely a misstep, don’t worry. Try not to turn it into a negative experience, for once it is wired in your brain as negative, it’s very easy to become averse to taking similar risks that in different circumstances may pay off. These are moments for coaching that can be really valuable, censuring them can be counter-effective. Lawyers are not typically minded towards being coached, but with the appropriate dexterity and approach, a feedback conversation can be an incredible place for them to learn and grow.

3. Let them do what they’re good at

Occasionally the best thing you can do is to let your team get on with it. Command control models are common in legal practices, it’s how they have always been.  However, the workforce is changing, and so must the old legal firm model. It’s time to try new things, and to encourage responsibility and autonomy without a helicopter-style overview approach.

Allow your team the freedom of proving that they can do it and trust yourself that you have led them to a pace of empowered decision making.

Step back and don’t get in the way. You don’t need to direct the process if it’s working smoothly, and the more autonomy your team has over the work, the more committed they will feel about it. You may be surprised at the degree of support team members show each other as they work as a self-managed unit, people usually feel good about helping others, because let's face it, a failure for one can mean a failure for all.

When you think about the ultimate goal for any leader of teams, you’re not really seeking to drive your team to greatness. You’re allowing the team to drive itself under your guidance; that’s authentic autonomy and true team work at play. There’s a powerfully motivating difference between the two and the former is far less empowering for your people than the latter. 

Stepping back and letting the team go isn’t always easy to do, and it’s just one aspect of leadership behaviour that may be covered in our Executive Coaching sessions. If you want to be a better leader and motivate your team to greatness with you, call me and we’ll work out the best way for you to move forward.

About our Guest Blogger

Linda Murray is the Founder, Facilitator, Speaker and Executive Coach at Athena Leadership Academy; the professional development hub for high performing and high potential leaders.

Linda ensures that your leaders and your teams are engaged, motivated and empowered to achieve the best results for your business.

Linda has run her own successful businesses since age 22, so understands what it takes to maximise the performance of yourself and those around you.

Connect with Linda on social media

LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/lindamurrayathena/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AthenaCoaching
Twitter – https://twitter.com/athena_coaching
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPZWA24o0iohBl1O0LQxEkw

Inactive super fund accounts may lose insurance cover

Monday, April 15, 2019

By Andrew Proebstl, Chief Executive, legalsuper

Super fund members who have not had a contribution paid into their account for 16 months could lose their insurance cover under new legislation passed by the government in February 2019.

Other changes also loom for inactive accounts with a balance of less than $6,000.

The changes, which come into effect as of 1 July 2019, are contained in the Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Bill 2019, which was passed by Federal parliament in February this year.

Members can take action to prevent these changes impacting their accounts, but they must act soon. 

It is highly advisable that employers inform their staff of these impending changes and the implications which may follow.

The changes follow the introduction of the Federal government’s Protecting Your Super package – a comprehensive package of regulatory reforms announced in the 2018-19 Budget designed to protect Australians’ superannuation savings from undue erosion by fees and insurance premiums.

Inactive superannuation accounts

On 1 July 2019, regardless of balance, inactive superannuation accounts (meaning those accounts where no contributions or rollovers have been received for 16 months) will have any insurance cover cancelled. 

Affected super fund members should receive a communication from their super fund between May to June this year asking whether they want to maintain their insurance cover. If a member does not actively choose to maintain their insurance cover, it will be cancelled on 1 July.

Members should be aware that if they do not act and their insurance cover is cancelled, but at a later date apply to recommence insurance cover via their super fund, any such application will be subject to underwriting and more stringent conditions compared to receiving default or automatic cover provided by most super funds.

Types of insurance cover

Most super fund members are able to access three types of insurance cover via their super fund: death; total and permanent disability; and salary continuance.

Death cover, also known as life insurance, provides a lump sum benefit to your beneficiaries if you die.

In relation to death cover, the independent ASIC MoneySmart website notes that if you have a partner or dependents: “By setting up a way to support your loved ones after you die, you can ensure they can continue to pay the mortgage and school expenses, go on holiday and buy essentials.”

Total and Permanent Disability cover (TPD), provides insurance cover if you are totally or permanently disabled via illness or injury and cannot continue to work and earn an income.

TPD insurance typically applies irrespective of whether the illness or injury was sustained at work or elsewhere and can help cover the costs of rehabilitation, debt repayments and the future cost of living.

Salary continuance cover, also known as income protection, pays you an income stream, usually up to 85 per cent of your gross salary, for a specified time period if you cannot work due to temporary (as opposed to permanent) disability or illness.

In deciding whether or not to take out salary continuance cover in addition to death cover and TPD cover, the ASIC MoneySmart website states: “It is an important consideration for anyone who relies on an income. It is especially suitable for self-employed people, small business owners or professionals whose business relies heavily on their ability to work.”

While it is possible to take out these types of insurance cover via retail providers, super fund premiums are in most cases cheaper compared to retail insurance providers as super funds are able to purchase insurance in bulk quantities for a large number of members – this is referred to as ‘group insurance’.

One other advantage of taking out insurance via your super fund is insurance premiums are automatically deducted from your super account. It is important to note however that the payment of insurance premiums from your super account will reduce the amount of retirement savings you will accumulate.  

Automatic deduction of premiums has the added benefit of avoiding finding yourself, at a time of crisis, without cover because you forgot to renew your policy.

Other advantages of taking out insurance via your super fund include that some funds automatically accept you for cover without requiring a health check, and you can usually make an application to vary the amount for which you want to be covered or cancel the cover entirely.

ATO control of inactive accounts

From 1 July 2019, all inactive super accounts with a balance of $6,000 or less will be transferred to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) unless within the last 16 months you have:
  • provided written notice to the ATO, declaring that you are not a member of an inactive low-balance account;
  • changed investment option(s);
  • made changes to your insurance cover; 
  • made or amended a binding beneficiary nomination; or
  • the super fund is owed an amount in respect of your account.
The ATO will then seek to allocate the balances of these inactive accounts into an active account of the member, if such an account exists. 

It is important to point out here that in the first instance the inactive accounts will leave the super fund and be paid to the ATO. 

Super fund members who will be affected by these changes should receive correspondence from their fund.

Those members who do not wish for the ATO to take control of their account will then need to write to the ATO, electing to maintain their super with their chosen fund. At the time of writing, the details of this process, including the wording for any member ‘Written Notice’ form, are currently being clarified by the ATO. As such, you should contact your super fund to discuss further if you want to ensure that your account is not automatically transferred to the ATO. 

This information is of a general nature only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs.  You should therefore consider the appropriateness of the information and obtain and read the relevant legalsuper Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision.
Legal Super Pty Ltd ABN 37 004 455 789, AFSL 246315 is the Trustee of legalsuper ABN 60 346 078 879.

About our Guest Blogger

Andrew Proebstl is chief executive of legalsuper; Australia’s super fund for the legal community.  

Qualifying as a Chartered Accountant while working with Arthur Andersen, Andrew has broad experience across the superannuation industry with fund administrators, investment managers, custodians and other superannuation funds.

Andrew is a member of the Policy Committee and former Director of the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees. He is also a former member of the Victorian Executive of the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia.  He regularly presents at superannuation industry conferences and writes regular superannuation columns for law societies across Australia.

He can be contacted via aproebstl@legalsuper.com.au

Connect with Andrew on social media

LinkedIn - https://au.linkedin.com/in/andrewproebstl

The evidence collector that's always with you

Monday, April 01, 2019

By David Kerstjens, Digital Forensics Lead at Law In Order

It is an integral part of our life these days and an item that is rarely further than arms reach. There are thousands of different models running various operating systems. With each year comes a larger device with the latest devices having a storage capacity of up to 512GB with expandable memory of another 512GB. As you would have guessed, I’m talking about mobile phones. 1TB is a lot of data but what sort of useable data can we get from a mobile phone?

Let’s think of it in terms of an investigation. One of your staff members has been accused of stalking and harassing a fellow staff member. What steps do you take to secure the potential evidence that is located on their work mobile and what type of evidence would you find?

Can You Obtain the Device?

The first step is to work out whether you have any legal right to obtain the device. Some companies will issue their staff a mobile device and other companies may allow Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Certain states even allow surveillance of personal devices when they are being used at work using work Wi-Fi systems. In some instances, a person may provide consent for their mobile device to be imaged and reviewed and in these instances, you would ensure they have provided written confirmation. In other instances, you may need to rely on the company policies or you may not have any right to the device itself. The key to this first step is the policy the staff member has agreed to which will require discussion with your IT and Legal Team.

Secure Evidence

Similar to any electronic devices which may contain key data, if the device is on, try to utilise a power source to keep the device powered on. If the device is off, leave the device in this state. If the device is on, enable Airplane/Flight Mode. This will ensure they are not able to remotely wipe the device. You will need to obtain the PIN code from the staff member in the majority of instances. Some devices can be accessed using software without the PIN code however this will not be applicable to the latest devices.

Forensically Acquire Device

Mobile phones are becoming increasingly more difficult to obtain the data from so we would recommend you utilise Forensic software and hardware to take an image of the device. Forensic software will have varying levels of interactions with the mobile device, which can affect whether the data itself is defensible, so make sure you research what software is forensically sound and you obtain suitable training in case the matter requires attendance in Court. Through suitable training and certification, you will be able to justify the actions you have taken in imaging the device and explain how the information was obtained from the data set.

Avenues of Investigation

The following are some potential avenues of investigation that relate to data obtained from a mobile device:
  • Correspondence between the two parties:
    • This could include call logs, SMS/MMS/iChat messages, various chat applications such as WhatsApp, WeChat, Viber, Messenger etc.
  • Correspondence between the accused and third parties that may mention the defendant.
  • Internet History.
    • This could show the accused performing searches online for the defendants’ address, social media accounts etc.
  • Media.
    • This could include photos or videos that the accused has taken of the defendant which could also include valuable data such as time stamps and GPS coordinates.
  • Location data
    • This could provide GPS coordinates to indicate at certain points of time where the accused was in relation to the defendant.
  • Recover deleted data.
    • In some instances, data that has been deleted such as messages can be recovered. As with all deleted data, time is of the essence. The likelihood of recovering deleted data will decrease with time, especially with mobile devices.
  • Linked Devices
    • Bluetooth history from the device may indicate linked devices such as smartwatches or car entertainment units which could provide further avenues to investigate.
  • Cloud Storage
    • The above considerations relate to data contained on the device however a review of the applications may provide further avenues to investigate such as cloud storage of the device or individual applications.
These avenues of investigation can be performed alongside the defendants’ statement and a forensic image of their mobile device to corroborate or contradict their claims.

At the end of the day, forensic evidence can be a key source of truth to decipher between contradicting statements.

For more information, contact sales@lawinorder.com

About our Guest Blogger

David Kerstjens is the Digital Forensics Lead at Law In Order’s Melbourne Office. 

David has over 10 years’ experience working in Investigations across the Financial, Education and Computer Crime sector. He has strong technical knowledge in the fields of Fraud, Investigations & Digital Forensics and significant leadership experience having managed diverse teams across multiple jurisdictions.

David’s background includes working for the Federal Government and state police as well as in the private sector.

He holds qualifications in Fraud Investigations and Investigative Services and has a Masters of Information Systems Security, Digital Forensics.

5 Essential strategies you need to action to ensure your team has confidence to face change

Monday, March 18, 2019

By Linda Murray, Speaker, Facilitator and Executive Coach, Athena Leadership Academy

As we all know the legal profession is undergoing its greatest period of transformation at present: the sands are literally shifting beneath your feet. As practice managers and leaders it’s often your role to not only stay on top of all the fast transformation within the industry, but also, to ensure that staff remain calm and retention remains steady. 
It’s no mean feat, even for those of you with years of experience in practice management. 
The traditional legal services model is not only under scrutiny for how it can become more efficient and accessible, it’s under threat from non-law firm service providers entering the market at a rapid rate, that are attempting to provide alternate methods of access to legal advice. There is an unprecedented level of multi-faceted change presently. 

Now, in the long term it remains to be seen how clients respond to these offerings (be it new remote working solutions for contracted independent lawyers, AI technology replacing existing lawyers or simply alternate models to the traditional law firms). What is certain is that in the interim, these new players, and what they offer are all certainly shaking up the way things have “always been done”. This tends to make lawyers nervous, very nervous.

Additionally, the role of both law firms themselves, and those that work within it, are changing with greater speed and more dynamically than ever before. Client expectations are changing towards more immediacy, and an expectation of greater technological applications to help them an a more integrated way. Add to this the nature of the industry as being somewhat slow to change as a whole.

All of this shake up can result in a nervousness in employees, whether they are concerned about their positions (legal and non-legal), and also the possibility they are exploring some of the alternate options themselves. 
In light of all this, what can you do to ensure attrition remains at natural rates, that your staff remain focused on the work at hand, and to ensure clients experience minimal disruption to their everyday expectations? 

Below are some of the strategies that we recommend at Athena Leadership Academy to keep your ship steady during turbulent times. They will help you to better understand your team’s perspective and give you the insight you need to help your team deal with change.
It is understood, but sadly underestimated, that changes in the workplace fail because leaders don’t adequately anticipate and minimise their team’s resistance to any disruption in the status quo.

Plan for resistance

As human beings, we so easily fall into habits and our brains see repetition and routines as “safe”. This is especially so in the legal industry, as of all the professional services industries, it is often the most reticent towards wholesale change. Given this general historical attitude, and the hierarchical partnership model, it’s only natural that your team will be reluctant to embrace change, even if it is something that will benefit them.

Great leaders anticipate and plan for push back against their ideas, innovations and upgrades. So, long before you introduce changes to your team, sit down and think of the reasons why your team may oppose the plan, at least initially. 
Think about why they might fear the planned changes. How might you reduce or counter their fears? Are their concerns well founded or grounded in historical attitudes? Are there some misconceptions to be cleared up so they can see the benefits of making a change? 
Could it be that there is a concern about the security of their roles if the change is of a more significant nature? Lawyers are by nature often conservative-minded to find a problem where there may not be one simply because that’s what they are trained to do. It’s the nature of those involved in professionally applying critical thinking and problem solving approaches. Therefore, addressing this concern early in a planned and measured way is a great first step. 

Creating a plan to address your team’s concerns will reduce their fear and anxiety. It will also make it easier for them to “pitch in” and do their part in implementing the change.

Build trust with open communication

Effective communication is key to introducing any sort of workplace change.

When implementing changes, be upfront and honest with your people. Let them know what you know about the upcoming disruption, and be transparent about how it will impact them to the extent that you know this information. Also, be open about what you don’t know.

Make yourself available to talk with your people both as a group, and one on one, and continue to give regular updates as you gain new information and as the initiative moves forward. As your team learns that they can trust you to look out for their interests, their resistance to the change will decrease.

Be specific with goals and expectations

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is not communicating exactly what new behaviour is expected from their teams. They fail to tell them what specific actions they expect in the new way of working and how it will benefit them and the company. 
Be very clear about what you expect from your team. Set time-based goals where progress can be measured. Set benchmarks to let your people know the target that they are trying to reach. Give specific examples of what you want from your team moving forward so they know exactly what behaviours and actions are now expected of them and others in your organisation.

Now, this part is important.

Don’t just tell them what you want but tie the change to your organisation’s values and vision. Even better, how it will tie in with their goals. This way, they can not only see how the change helps the organisation achieve its mission, but also how it helps them achieve their own vision. This helps build their commitment to the change.

Use the power of the herd to your advantage

In every group, there are “early adopters,” quick to adopt new ideas and products. These people, specifically if they are at the more senior end of the partnership spectrum, are to be leveraged as much as possible. 

Next is the main body of the group, who may resist innovation in the beginning, until they can see the benefits of changing.
Finally, there are the “stragglers,” who will hold out against change for as long as possible.

One way to get more of your people to join in and support the changes is to use the power of “group think”, and identify leaders early on that are able to influence others to embrace the change more readily. 

Openly praise, recognise and reward those members of your team who first embrace the change initiative. As the number of supporters of the change grows, be certain to update your people on the progress of implementing the change. Gentle peer pressure will encourage others to join in and support the change. 
One word of caution: never underestimate the power of an influential person who is NOT on board with the businesses plan for change, specifically in traditionally minded industries like law. These people are critical to not only identify, but to as quickly as possible, shift their mindset. Just one or two of these people at a senior level can derail the success of any change implementation. Spend time bringing these people into the fold, listening and addressing any specific concerns. Help them recognise how the change will be a positive one, not something that will negatively impact their ability to do their jobs “their way”. It’s a real issue, and one if you address early, will make for much smoother progress. 

Involve your people in the process

If you want your people to support change in your organisation, make it easy for them to be a part of the process. Where possible, involve your people in the process of deciding what needs to be changed, and how it will be changed.

Allow them to brainstorm and come up with options of what processes, policies or procedures will be changed and specifically how they are to be changed and improved.

Involving your team throughout the process helps them to become invested in its success. When your team feels that they had a say in the decision-making process, they are more likely to accept and embrace the changes instead of resisting.

Change is hard for all of us to accept in the beginning. By using your people skills, you can open lines of communication with your team. This simple act grants you the insight that you need to answer questions, allay fears, and more deeply involve your team in the change process, increasing the likelihood of its long-term success.

About our Guest Blogger

Linda Murray is the Founder, Facilitator, Speaker and Executive Coach at Athena Leadership Academy; the professional development hub for high performing and high potential leaders. 

Linda ensures that your leaders and your teams are engaged, motivated and empowered to achieve the best results for your business.

Linda has run her own successful businesses since age 22, so understands what it takes to maximise the performance of yourself and those around you.

Connect with Linda on social media

LinkedIn - www.linkedin.com/in/lindamurrayathena/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AthenaCoaching
Twitter – https://twitter.com/athena_coaching
YouTube - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPZWA24o0iohBl1O0LQxEkw

Social media; an integral part of a law firm’s business development tool kit

Monday, February 25, 2019

By Nicole Shelley, Operations Manager, Pepper IT

In today’s business environment, social media should now be an integrated part of a law firm’s wider business development and marketing strategy.

Ask any legal practitioner what they hope to get out of ‘Business Development’ and you would hope to hear:

  • profile building;
  • relationship building;
  • communication channels and platforms;
  • thought leadership; and
  • ultimately generating new business.

What is the common theme in all of these goals – communication!

The great thing about social media is that it helps you communicate directly to your clients on mass - and consistently and regularly! And what’s more, it is a two way street that lets you communicate, engage, (and importantly engage WHEN your client is open and ready), learn and showcase yourself as thought leaders in a very client centric way.

Smart firms are leveraging social media as a highly valuable tool for client attraction, engagement and education.

Three ways active social media use can help your firm:

  1. It helps you monitor news and events in your industry. It can even help you monitor your competitors! This allows you to stay on top of the latest trends, highlight your thought leadership, and share interesting content relevant to your industry or target sectors and relevant to your clients or potential clients.
  2. It’s also a great way to keep on top of what your clients are doing, thinking, needing and then reacting appropriately in real time. By sharing relevant and useful information, whether that be an original firm article or sharing industry content that you have commented on and added to, highlights that you understand and anticipate your clients’ needs and challenges. This helps you stay top of mind as well as cementing your reputation as their trusted adviser.
  3. Finally, social media provides an opportunity to shape the personality and face of the firm by sharing stories, successes and values. But be careful not to fall into the me, me, me trap! Nothing will make your audience unfollow you quicker than content that is irrelevant or unappealing.

In a summary, put your ‘client-first’ hat on and for effective results, ensure you post a balance of content that is relevant, timely and interesting.

How do you leverage social media platforms effectively?

Most importantly, and just like any other business development initiative, start with a strategy and know your end goals and what you want to achieve.

Know your audience:

  • Who are your target audience(s) and where can you find them?
  • Which social platforms are they most prevalent on?
  • What groups, associations, industry bodies or communities do they engage with?

Once you have defined your audience you can determine the types of content relevant to them and when and where they are engaging.

When it comes to content you need to be strategic and think of how your audience targeting will shape the type of content you should be using. In simple terms, think about what you would want to be talking about to your various clients and, again importantly, what they want to be talking about! This then lets you develop a plan and content schedule to ensure you are engaging where, when and how your clients are engaging.

Be in it for the long haul

Remember, as we know in the non-digital world, trust and reputation can’t be built overnight. Dipping your toe into social for a week isn’t going to bring results. A longer-term strategy is needed of adding value and building a brand. Posting relevant and helpful content tailored to your client base that differentiates you, builds trust and engagement over time, will be a winning strategy. Only then will it lead to new business.

About our Guest Blogger

Nicole Shelley B.Com, CPA, CIMA  is Operations Manager at Pepper IT, a full service digital and social media agency with a particular expertise advising clients in the professional services sector. Nicole has a diverse and broad corporate background having held finance, practice management, operational management and strategic planning roles for leading professional services firms including top tier global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicolesomerville/

Web:  Pepper IT

New strategy for 2019? Read these five tips from successful firms in 2018

Monday, February 18, 2019

By Todd Keeler, Director, FilePro

In December 2018, Lawyers Weekly reported that law firms are experiencing a range of disruptive factors, “the most profound economically are those arising from technological shifts”.

While the article describes digitisation as “an incredible and little understood force”, at FilePro, we are starting to experience the opposite.

Namely: lawyers are now driving change, rather than being ‘disrupted’.

Rather than digital laggards, we’re working with firms who continue to evolve using technology as a core part of their long-term strategy – not make quick reactions to the buzzwords of ‘disruption’ and ‘innovation’.

So, as a technology provider keen to help more firms integrate technology with their core business strategy, here are five things I’ve learnt from firms who implemented successful strategies in 2018.

1. Technology and data aren’t afterthoughts

Now, we may be biased, but in our experience technology has to be integrated with your strategy, not be an afterthought.
Is your practice manager invited to your strategy sessions? How about someone from IT? If not, is there someone who will champion the use of technology, or at the very least has an understanding of the technology market?

For a number of the firms FilePro works with, technology is the enabler to deliver strategy and providers are more than just suppliers of their accounts team, they are a part of a mutually-beneficial relationship.

This has a secondary effect: firms that properly implement technology start to recognise data as a multiplier to increasing the value of a firm’s client experience and brand value. They start to plan and ask questions about how data is stored, used and shared.

2. They embrace the concept of continuous improvement

Rather than make radical changes to their firm’s technology, these law firms have learnt that introducing steady and consistent changes with adequate training and management is key.

There is such thing as too much change too quickly, and without proper education, introducing too many new processes and technologies will overwhelm your staff, and in the worst case, increase error and staff churn.

Instead, we advocate steady and continuous improvement.
To some, this may sound disruptive. But for your teams and clients, it’s the reality of today’s technology-led world. Clients want to walk into a law firm and see that lawyers are on the cutting edge of tech and doing things efficiently.

While technology is on the checklist of many clients, it also helps improve a number of processes – it enables fast and effective responses to changes in regulations, risks, processes, pricing, competition, client or staff needs.

Even better, technology-led change is no longer the exclusive domain of large or NewLaw firms. In fact, freeing up your staff from routine paperwork allows them to add extraordinary value through other avenues, such as stronger client relationships and networking. It also enables flexible work arrangements and, as a consequence, retention of quality staff.

3. Drive change from within the firm

If the introduction of technology is to be successful, then everybody needs to be on board.
All owners, partners and directors should lead the change by demonstrating the support and enthusiasm for the changes.

From the outset, your team should be involved – whether it’s planning a new process, installing a new system, or making any significant change to day-to-day work responsibilities. This may seem simple, but it’s surprising how often teams are first notified of a change after it has been made.

Begin by explaining the reasons for the change, then agree on:
  • The goals – ensure there are measurable targets and a timeframe
  • The mandatories of the project
  • Whether you have the competencies, tools and internal resourcing to create positive change
While it’s great to get everybody involved, delegation to internal champions is strongly advocated. As Fiona McLay states, ‘It is important to have one person with a mandate to implement change to be the driver and point of contact with the software provider.’

These champions will act as role models and gain the support of the entire team ­– enabling open and transparent communication throughout the entire process.

4. Accountability drives ongoing gains

Once they’ve set the goals noted above, successful law firms establish sustainable change by developing shared accountability between the firm and provider.

Agreeing on goals within your firm allows meaningful and open performance discussions – although this relies upon a transparent process to monitor progress. This will also create visible improvements in your client experience impact.

5. Lean on your technology provider

In my experience, technology providers often ‘set and forget’ their software. This isn’t the exception, but the rule.

Firm’s should not be left to figure out how to leverage their technology. This counterproductive practice takes lawyers away from working on their matters and clients.

Instead, we encourage law firms to lean on their providers to share their experience and technology – as an ongoing practice, not just at set up.

At FilePro, we work hard to do so. But if you’re engaging another provider, I would suggest you look for:
  • Onsite project management and training to all staff
  • Ability to customise prior to going live, e.g. report layouts, workflow and accounting
  • Their experience with mergers/restructures
  • How they help existing clients optimise software e.g. cleaning data and health checks
  • Which other firms they have dealt with, especially those of a similar size or location. Find out what they did that worked, and what they did that didn’t work.
Once systems are implemented, ask your provider to come back to visit in 3 or 6 months. Ask them what you’re doing well, and what you could be doing better. Discuss the results being seen, or not, based on agreed goals at the outset.

Overall, if you’re like many of the firms we’re working with, you’re more fearless in looking at change and should lean on your providers and work with them.

About our Guest Blogger

Todd Keeler is a Director of FilePro. With 20 years experience working with legal practice management software, he has a particular interest in bookkeeping and accounting, a key facet of FilePro’s fully integrated offering. Todd oversees a team working with over 450 law firms, in Australia and overseas. He works with firms of different sizes – from sole practitioners to FilePro’s biggest client, a multinational firm with 750 users.

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/todd-keeler-a03a4b5a/

Web:  https://www.filepro.com.au/

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