A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

How to recognise and develop emerging leaders within your firm

Monday, January 14, 2019

By Linda Murray, Executive Coach, Athena Coaching

When you look at your current team, do you see one or two people that stand out? These are your leaders and future managers in the making. But how can you recognise the individuals who possess the characteristics and attributes to succeed at a senior level? How do you ascertain which ones will be amenable to future training to broaden their career options?

Here are three ways you can recognise emerging leaders within your firm.

Focus on the high achievers

Emerging leaders tend to be high-achievers. They go above and beyond what is necessary to fulfil their role. They have a warm approach to their team members and their work is always of a consistently high quality. More so, they are business savvy, have a good understanding of the firm and a genuine desire to keep up with the latest news and trends at all times.

You may also notice they have a proven track record of getting results. They are personally driven and comfortable with abstract thought processes. You will also find that emerging leaders want to be successful and see others succeed alongside their own efforts.

Keep an eye on the extroverts

Previous experience will show that emerging leaders are generally extroverts, although studies have shown that female emerging leaders are not as vocal as their male counterparts. Emerging leaders are known for their strong communication abilities and persuasion techniques. They can motivate others with ease, be the ones who initiate new ideas and often have a slight risk-taking edge to their personality. This is a helpful skill to incubate, particularly when businesses undergo change and remodelling. However, don’t be surprised if emerging leaders show resistance to change opting for more proven methods of success.

Track the team players

Sometimes team players can be overlooked, but a great leader must be able to work effectively with and alongside, their team. Emerging leaders don’t necessarily need to be liked, but they often are. They are also respected by their peers and partners and can seek input from others when necessary.

Allowing them to mentor junior level employees will help develop their leadership skills for the future. Giving them the opportunity to lead will allow them to shine and the wellbeing of their peers is always high on their priority list.

How to develop your emerging leaders

Emerging leaders will most certainly crave and benefit from ongoing development. This could take the form of a senior mentor and/or leadership development program.

Mentor your emerging leaders

If a mentoring program is put in place, mentoring sessions should take place through regular meetings and look at targeting the specific skills necessary to tackle future leadership roles within the firm. Mentoring is a skill, so it should not be assumed that anyone can be a quality mentor. Mentors should be suitably matched to the development needs of the emerging leader. In order to create a successful mentoring relationship, the expectations, format, duration and success measures of the relationship need to be articulated upfront. It is essential that mentoring conversations remain confidential and free of any possible conflicts of interest. For this reason, mentors external to your firm can also be worth considering.

Develop using hands on training

Hands on training should form a significant part of the development plan for emerging leaders. Involvement in challenging assignments or cases is a great way to build their talents and exposure within the firm. Many emerging leaders are aspirational and motivated by challenge, so set them stretch projects where they can develop new skills, innovate and add value to the firm.

Create a structured development program

Retaining critical employees is essential to your firms ongoing success. The best way to achieve this is to keep emerging leaders stimulated, challenged and growing. If your firm is not focused on developing and retaining emerging leaders, then it is time to make a change. A leadership talent management strategy should consist of a blended program which includes mentoring, coaching and workshops to develop competence and confidence in leadership, executive presence, courageous conversations, peak performance and more. The result - you can sit back and watch your emerging leaders blossom into the role before your very eyes.

If your firm needs support developing a mentoring, coaching and a leadership program to build and develop your leadership pipeline, then I'd love to hear from you.  Athena Leadership Academy thrives on tailoring programs to transform organisations, one leader at a time.  To find out more and to start a conversation, then get in touch.

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

Late for the Sky: Legal Tech and the Cloud

Monday, January 07, 2019

By Philip Scorgie, Technical Advisor, AdvoLogix

One of the many striking oddities of law as a business is that because lawyers bill by the hour, the entire legal industry is powered by a disincentive to be efficient. The longer something takes, the more money lawyers make. Imagine owning a vineyard and increasing your income when the harvest is late or profiting because your automotive assembly line can only manufacture a hundred vehicles a day instead of a thousand.

Welcome to the industry of law, where revenue is based on inputs rather than outputs. The industry’s cost-plus model guarantees a profit at the expense of clients. For decades, this model has worked while firms tinkered with technology around the edges, stuck to traditional methods and prospered. And clients paid for it all without question.

The last 10 years have demonstrated that for a lot of firms, this practice is definitely over. One place this is playing out is legal IT, where there is an enormous disconnect between what the market needs and what law firms have. Several patterns are emerging.

In the past, thanks to the efficiency disincentive, legal IT mostly focused on back-office processes. There are lots of software packages out there for filing, time recording, billing and HR processes like performance management. These technologies help reduce back-office costs, and firms, especially big ones, have jumped in with both feet.

Legal tech has not focused on providing the same efficiency to the actual practice of law, however. Firms have yet to invest much in legal process automation like case management. Some high-volume low-complexity practices such as conveyancing, leasing and debt recovery have improved with narrowly built automation software, but the complex and most profitable legal work has not benefited from automation. 

However, while law firms have been happily looking the other way when it comes to technology, their clients are paying attention. Pushed to the wall by ever-increasing hourly rates and pressure to decrease legal spend, they are demanding transparency, demonstrated efficiency and predictability. Firms struggle to deliver because their compensation models actively discourage it. Therefore, in-house counsel and corporate legal departments have been voting with their feet and exploring their own automation platforms.

Traditional legal software, designed for the law firms of the past, is almost always built on outdated but ubiquitous 1980s client/server technology. These elderly platforms have several major deficiencies: huge cost, enormous complexity and the need for an army of fickle IT specialists to run them.

The solution – whether attorneys are ready to embrace it or not – is in the cloud. We know, old habits die hard. In so many other industries, cloud solutions have become standard and especially for smaller businesses which cannot afford their own IT departments. A few years back the major legal tech vendors asked their law firm clients about their appetite for cloud solutions. The response from their biggest, most profitable legal customers was a resounding “no” because of concerns with security and control.

What the legal tech vendors should have done is dug a little deeper and asked, “Why not?” In other words, queried their customers along the lines of “What are the barriers to deploying new technologies?” Everyone would have answered “spinning up and maintaining servers and applying software upgrades.” The answer to these challenges, of course, is the cloud.

A handful of legal tech vendors had the foresight to develop solutions that were only ever meant to be cloud-based. There are platforms today – like Salesforce – that vendors are using to develop integrated apps to help law firms and legal departments finally apply automation to more complex legal work. And while Salesforce is traditionally known as a customer relationship management platform, its AppExchange includes thousands of applications built for specific processes and industries – like legal – that are cloud-based and come with the security Salesforce is known for.

Finally, few legal CIOs are saying no to the cloud today. The market is ripe for cloud-based case management technology that will deliver more cost-effective and higher-quality legal services. If law firms don’t invest in these emerging platforms, their clients will.

About our Guest Blogger

Philip Scorgie is a technical advisor for AdvoLogix. His 30-year professional services career includes senior leadership roles at Mayer Brown in Chicago, Deacons in Hong Kong and Norton Rose and Allens in Melbourne, where he currently resides. Philip possesses in-depth knowledge and experience in disruptive technologies and change management and holds advisory positions at application development companies specialising in artificial intelligence. Currently as a visionary and independent consultant, Philip assists firms select, deploy and leverage advanced technologies to increase efficiency, quality and profitability.    

LinkedIn:   linkedin.com/company/advologix-com

Web:   www.advologix.com    

Twitter: @AdvoLogix    

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