Monthly Archives: October 2015

Engagement on the agenda, but what more help do lawyers need to enable them to drive it … every day

Hearts & Minds BriefingGreat to see a focus on engagement of employees in the current LSN “Hearts & Minds” Briefing that you can download at http://ht.ly/TFUgH

I can’t help feeling though that there’s a lot of focus throughout here on gathering and analysing data, which does of course have significant value,  However, what about equipping the lawyers that manage strategy, teams and projects with the clarity of purpose, skills and tools they need to engage, communicate with and support their people on the job day-in, day-out?

That’s where I see the biggest wins are yet to be made. What do you think?

INNOVATE like Pinsent Masons. ENGAGE and DEVELOP your people to PRODUCE RESULTS.

business organizationInnovation and new value-added service propositions seem to be the order of the day but where do you start or re-launch new initiatives to generate the best possible returns?

Having been named Innovative Law Firm of the Year 2015, Pinsent Masons launched a microsite showcasing some of the stories and products that won them the award – see the links to their site and some solutions that can help you get there at the end of this article.  All well worth checking out.

What Pinsent Masons are doing is  certainly “innovative” for the legal sector, so full marks for doing it and for spreading the word to challenge others.   Some lawyers in other firms will rightly be frustrated that they are not “doing something” to match this, as clients will increasingly choose the law firms that tangibly offer more value.  Others will of course be dismissive.

Before you stir things up too much at your practice because you want immediate action  on some of this, make sure you start by getting the groundwork right.  To produce successful results, you need to get – and keep – people on board because this can’t happen overnight. Pinsent Masons have been at this for a long time already.

Ask yourself and your senior management team:

  1. Do we know what our clients want that will add value to your services?  Have we asked? Have we started again from a clean sheet in exploring options?  How can we make it more tangible?
  2. Are we equipped to engage our people effectively in developing and delivering something new and maybe quite different from what they do now?  Are people being coached constantly as we go along to develop and harness their thinking?
  3. How does the way we work together need to change to prioritise and manage these new projects and services effectively?  How do we make that happen?

Key challenges to tackle at the outset then are to engage people to deliver in line with the strategy, develop their skills to match and support them in constantly improving performance and developing those propositions.  These are critical stumbling blocks for too many law firms that start with good intentions on innovation.

We have a number of innovative solutions that can help you bring your people on the journey with you, equipping them to make the transition needed for them to be comfortable and capable of dealing with some clients and delivering some legal services differently.

We can help, working with our business partners on:

  • Independent client listening to develop new service propositions
  • Engaging people, supporting collaboration, project and “real time” performance management – adopting Simitive to structure your approach – focused on outcomes, sharing accountability, making more productive use of time.
  • Learning and developing essential new skills for all employees, ensuring that it is effective, affordable and flexible enough to enable you to let you invest in them.

The Pinsent Masons “Bringing Innovation to Life” website is here >>

To find out more about how we at Inpractice UK can help you to develop, implement and deliver innovative services that add tangible value for your clients, contact Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or at solutions@inpractice.co.uk

Great plans, but people need to be “engaged” in the business to make them happen?

Businessman holding up an OK signNow, as law firms are trying to change their business radically to meet new and changing demands, there is a critical need to deliver on new business strategies and initiatives. “Employee Engagement” is where most potential lies to improve the short term performance and long term sustainability in most law firms.

The Challenge … and the Opportunity

Top management can have all the best business development plans, new service propositions, process maps, key account management or new technology in the world, but if employees don’t understand and value the part they play, efforts to implement them WILL fail.  They won’t produce the results hoped for; probably missing the mark by a very long way.

We’ve seen it happen many times before, where initiatives lose momentum, detractors snipe at the advocates and everyone gets stressed out.  The job may get done … eventually, but it has been much more painful than it should have been, people get worn down and the results are nowhere close to what was achievable.

Your people should be your most valuable asset.  In many firms they are not.

People work more effectively if they understand their role in the business they work in and are supported effectively on projects allocated to them.  Effective communication, mutual respect, collaboration and understanding what is expected of each other amongst colleagues contribute significantly to motivation.

Lawyers have never been good at finding time to engage the people around them; nor to develop the skills needed to do that effectively.  Maybe that didn’t matter so much in the past.  I have interviewed a lot of capable and dedicated, but seriously disenfranchised people on projects over the years – not just management and support, but lawyers too.

In the past, this failing has just made a lot of law firms more stressful – but maybe also less challenging – places to work, which was a shame, but not fatal to the business.

Going forwards it will be an obstacle to survival as others establish a new momentum, actively supported by the people working for them.  Law firms stuck in old ways, unable to get people to do things differently will suffer.

Research has shown that “engagement” pays off.

  1. About 37% of an employee’s time in the office is wasted just because they do things that don’t make any difference; and that applies to both lawyers and support staff.  That is about 14 hours per week that could be used much more productively.
  2. You can radically reduce this wasted time by as much as 17% to release about 7.5 hours per week to more relevant work by creating better focus on better aligned organisational goals.  That might be earning fees, developing business, mentoring their team, training others …
  3. Clarity of Success Criteria also reduces stress and promotes focused contribution to the business aligned to corporate and individual development.
  4. Consistent, regular monitoring results in early identification of potential issues in either individual or organisational performance, creating the opportunity for pro-active intervention.

Why does that really matter?

If you move your practice to one where employees are “engaged” you would expect to:

  • Improve the profitability of the business
  • Maximise the engagement and utilisation of all resources.
  • Generate effective collaboration between people, teams and departments
  • Reduce stress and anxiety that derives from uncertainty
  • Develop innovative improvements in internal operations and added value services
  • Visibility of roles and tasks so each person knows what is expected of them and others
  • Deliver projects on time and within budget
  • Improve clarity, ownership and reporting of Organisational Goals.
  • Facilitate Organisational and Cultural change to meet business challenges.
  • Improve the engagement of staff in their own and organisational goals.
  • Improve visibility of skill and resource shortfalls.
  • Facilitate succession planning.
  • Simplify compliance and associated reporting.
  • Provide a platform management of programs and projects.
  • Deliver Staff training and development including compulsory training (e.g. health and safety, diversity, fire, environment) with compliance validation

What does “Engagement” look like?

You will get the message from this thought provoking X-Model of “Engagement” video.

How to build effective engagement into the fabric of your law firm?

Making it happen is the subject of the next post on the topic of “Employee Engagement”. Please come back soon; or register on the site and we will let you know when the next update has arrived.

To find out more in the meantime about how we at Inpractice UK can help you develop and implement an effective approach to engaging your people to improve the performance of your practice, contact Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or at solutions@inpractice.co.uk.

Fixed fee commercial litigation – credit to IM for their commitment

Fixed fee commercial Litigation from Irwin Mitchell – sounds attractive to clients but isn’t this what all litigators are/should be doing?   Need engaged people to understand and deliver; but also good process, time records project and risk management to deliver … but why not?

“Upon instruction the firm will analyse the likely legal fees to be incurred by the client and then, in conjunction with expert law costs draftsmen, prepare a proposed fixed fee for each stage of the litigation process, including solicitors’, expert witnesses’, and counsel’s fees.” 

More here >>