THE BUSINESS OF LAW
People and Inclusion P07 Simon
Tupman Our people are our greatest asset
P11 Lady Justice Simler
A passion for equality, diversity and inclusion
P49 Susan Henry
Weâ€™re only as good as our people
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People are priceless When I worked in PR and advertising we used to say that the company’s assets went up and down in the lift every day – unless you had a ground floor office, of course! We had no massive investment to make in machinery or equipment to physically produce an end product – our people were the assets! And, without doubt, the right people, the talented people, are a massive asset to any company. Coincidentally, this issue is all about people! A celebration of all that’s good about them. And without the right calibre of personnel, how can any business operate successfully to its full potential? I admit, some successful people are not always the finest human beings, but largely the much-used-muchabused 80/20 theory holds true, and I believe that 80% of us strive to be the best we can, as people, employers and employees. Let’s face it, talented people are priceless; people who are knowledgeable and experienced – and when you get that balance of new talent and experience, you’ve hit the motherlode.
So, what do employers look for when recruiting and what appeals about a company to potential employees? Employers will always value a strong work ethic, with the ability to work hard as well as smart. Other sought-after attributes include dependability, responsibility, a positive attitude, self-confidence, professionalism and loyalty – though the latter largely depends on what the company has to offer the employee! In today’s employment market, companies need to offer more than just a good salary to attract, motivate and retain the finest talent. Indeed in various surveys, Millennials and Generation X no longer put remuneration per se at the top of their job wish list. (Although Boomers do still see that as a major reason to join or remain with a company!) Now, employees are increasingly seeking the ability to achieve a work-life balance, combined with opportunities to develop, recognition of their efforts, and workplace values such as embracing diversity and inclusion, all highly attractive when choosing who to work for.
So, please read on and enjoy this issue, packed with views on how important it is for firms to build teams with the attributes necessary to ensure success. We kick off editorially on Page 7, with international speaker, author and mentor to law firms, Simon Tupman, giving his insight into why it’s essential for law firms to create a motivational and engaging workplace culture. And don’t miss our Editorial Board thought-leaders (Pages 29-45) who continue the ‘people are priceless’ theme with some fascinating ideas and opinions.
Editor, Modern Law Magazine. 01765 600909 firstname.lastname@example.org www.modernlawmagazine.com
Editorial Contributors Gregor Angus, The Cashroom Limited Carole Ankers, poweredbypie Adam Bullion, InfoTrack Dan Creed, tmgroup John Dobson, SmartSearch John Espley, LEAP UK Susan Fairbrass, Geodesys Aidan Hawes, vLex Justis Kingsley Hayes, Hayes Connor Solicitors Kevin Johnson, Index PI Robert Kelly, Stewart Title
ISSUE 47 ISSN 2050-5744
Jane Malcom, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Fiona Morrison, TLA Medicolegal & 3D Health UK Dean Sappey, Docscorp Dave Seager, SIFA Professional Alan J Smith, High Court Enforcement Group Claire Smith, Moneypenny Tim Smith, Insight Legal Software Olly Thornton-Berry, Thirdfort Brian Welsh, Insight Legal Software Alex Williams, Tikit Grant Yuill, Denovo
Editor | Pete Ward Events Sales | Martin Smith Project Manager | Kate McKittrick
Modern Law Magazine is published by Charlton Grant Ltd ©2020
All material is copyrighted both written and illustrated. Reproduction in part or whole is strictly forbidden without the written permission of the publisher. All images and information is collated from extensive research and along with advertisements is published in good faith. Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this publication was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.
‘Our people are our greatest asset.’ - going beyond the rhetoric Simon Tupman is an international speaker, author and mentor to law firms. Here he takes Modern Law’s theme of ‘People are Priceless’ to discuss why it’s essential for law firms to create a motivational and engaging workplace culture.
KEY CONTRIBUTORS EDITORIAL BOARD
A passion for equality, diversity and inclusion Dame Ingrid Ann Simler, DBE, The Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Simler, is a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. She is currently President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal and is a High Court Liaison the lead Judge for Diversity. She talks to Modern Law about her career and passion for equality, diversity and inclusion.
Helping women achieve their potential Clare Wardle, General Counsel and Company Secretary, about how businesses and organisations can attract, develop and retain the best talent.
The making of a people manager James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth and winner of Managing Partner of the Year at the Modern Law Awards 2020, reveals what he believes makes a good people manager.
Bringing the lawyer’s voice to the fore Helen Libson, Global Engagement Manager at Peerpoint, sheds light on career aspirations, expectations, and the hopes and fears of lawyers in the light of a changing industry.
Making diversity and inclusion work Jane Malcom, Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
27 27 29 29 31 31 33 33 35 35
People are priceless Kevin Johnson, Index PI People power vs rise of the robots Carole Ankers, poweredbypie Staff retention in the era of the Millennial Adam Bullion, InfoTrack People and tech – not people vs tech John Dobson, SmartSearch Why replacing staff is lousy business Dean Sappey, Docscorp Client onboarding: the future, the risks Olly Thornton-Berry, Thirdfort Employees the key to success Aidan Hawes, vLex Justis Training and development Susan Fairbrass, Geodesys Talent development and retention Alan J Smith, High Court Enforcement Group Limited Retention strategy Dan Creed, tmgroup
37 37 39 39 41 41 43 43 45 45
Is it ethical to poach? Brian Welsh, Insight Legal Software Rising stars and future leaders Gregor Angus, The Cashroom Limited Embracing agile working Kingsley Hayes, Hayes Connor Solicitors Reputational risk Dave Seager, SIFA Professional People are your future Grant Yuill, Denovo Bye bye ‘Boomers’ Alex Williams, Tikit Talent management John Espley, LEAP UK Competitive advantage Fiona Morrison, TLA Medicolegal & 3D Health UK Save time and hassle Robert Kelly, Stewart Title Wrapping technology in the personal touch Claire Smith, Moneypenny
Empowering your team to deliver exceptional customer service Jo Causon, Institute of Customer Service We’re only as good as our people Susan Henry, handl Group People are priceless – and tech without people is worthless Charles Christian, Legal IT Insider Book Review: Online Courts & The Future of Justice – by Richard Susskind Charles Christian, Legal IT Insider
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The big personal injury debate Rick Gregory, VFS Legal Funding Limited Nik Ellis, Laird Assessors Limited Mark Holt, Frenkel Topping Michael Lewis, Claim Technology Donna Scully, Carpenters Group Richard Forth, Forths Forensic Accountants Rich Dibbins, Conscious Solutions
Nabilla Mallick, No5 Barristers’ Chambers
49 51 53
AWARDS FORUM 10 MINS
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EDITORIAL BOARD CONTRIBUTORS
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‘OUR PEOPLE ARE OUR GREATEST ASSET’ – GOING BEYOND THE RHETORIC
Simon Tupman is an international speaker, author and mentor to law firms. He is a member of the Law Consultancy Network. He will be the closing keynote speaker at the Law Society Management Conference in London on 19 May 2020. Here Simon takes Modern Law’s theme of ‘People are Priceless’ to discuss why it’s essential for law firms to create a motivational and engaging workplace culture.
n New Zealand, where I live, there is an old Maori proverb, ‘he aha te mea nui o te ao. He tângata, he tângata, he tângata.’ Translated, it means ‘what is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people.’The world of legal services is quick to acknowledge the value of people to their business but evidence shows that in reality, firms place the interests of their people a very distant second place to those of the firm itself, especially its bottom line. When firms say their people are their greatest asset but don’t actually care for them, treating them as ‘human resources’ rather than people, then it can shatter trust and create a toxic workplace culture of cynicism, anxiety and self-interest. Research around the world consistently shows that the legal sector has an appalling track record. Depression, disengagement, stress, anxiety and
“Many law firm Partners still do not appreciate the role of leadership, assuming it to be more about command and control rather than motivating and engaging people around a shared purpose and vision” 7
sexual harassment are commonplace. Following a workplace review by the NZ Law Society in 2018, its then President, Kathryn Beck, was prompted to state: “… when nearly 30% of lawyers feel major changes are needed to the culture of their workplace, and when 40% of lawyers under 30 believe major changes are needed to their workplace culture, we must call a spade a spade – there is a cultural crisis in the New Zealand legal profession.” The crisis is not isolated to the New Zealand legal profession. It is endemic around western countries and is being exacerbated by the Fourth Industrial Revolution – a technological revolution that is fundamentally altering the way we live, work, and relate to one another. Potential restructuring and job losses are increasing anxiety as people ask, ‘what does this mean for me, my future, my security and my family?’
insurance, gym memberships, and days off. To militate against mental health issues, some firms have recently launched initiatives ranging from mindfulness apps and mental first aid training to on-site therapists1. There is now a ‘Mindful Business Charter’, a set of 22 principles designed to tackle long hours and alleviate stress established by Pinsent Mason and Addleshaw Goddard in 2018. While such initiatives are to be welcomed, on their own they don’t go far enough in addressing the central challenge now facing law firm leaders: what do we need to do to engage and inspire our people to work in order to achieve the firm’s commercial objectives?
THE LAW SOCIETY’S LAW MANAGEMENT SECTION ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2020 19 May 2020 at The Law Society,
113 Chancery Lane, London, WC2A 1PL Closing Keynote Address: Purpose, Passion and Professionalism – the foundations for your success – by Simon Tupman, Director, Lawyers with a Life To plan for a better future, many law firm leaders often default to ‘strategic planning’. However, this process can be ineffective unless their firms possess three things: a sense of purpose and direction, people who are passionate about their work and an ideology of ‘professionalism’. During this uplifting closing session, Simon will show how law firm leaders can define, develop, and drive these concepts to realise their firm’s true potential.
The economic costs of this mismanagement to the economy are huge; in the UK alone, work-related mental illness across all business is estimated to cost the UK economy £30-40 billion pounds; the reputational damage to the legal services market is also considerable. In such circumstances, it is difficult to defend the traditional law firm culture and ways of working. There is now an urgent need to change how law firms operate if they are to bring the best out of their people, fulfil the potential of their business and relieve the strain on their people and the planet. The challenge is for law firm leaders to build a culture in which the personal and professional needs of all their people are accommodated.
“Law firms today have to compete for talent just as they have to compete for clients”
Half of the answer lies in ensuring the firm’s commercial objectives are not just about safeguarding next year’s PEP (Profits for Equity Partner). People need to feel they have a vested interest in seeing the firm succeed even if they aren’t shareholders in the business. As Howard Shultz, CEO of Starbucks once said: ‘people want to be part of something larger than themselves. They want to be part of something they’re really proud of, that they’ll fight for, sacrifice for, and trust.’ Law firms can take the lead from a growing number of businesses worldwide who have adopted a triple bottom line approach to their business (profit, people and planet), measuring the financial, social and environmental performance of the organisation. The growth of B Corporations is an example of this. Closer to home, the Australian Legal Sector Alliance has over 40-member law firms who have made a commitment to promote sustainable and inclusive workplaces, community support, environmental conservation and responsible governance. The other half of the answer lies in working to build a vibrant workplace culture in which people are fully engaged; in other words, they feel connected to each other and the objectives of the firm; their work is meaningful and they enjoy what they do. They are more motivated to achieve. The end result is a happier, more cooperative and productive firm. The job of addressing this central challenge lies with the firm’s leadership. First and foremost, that means the Partners. They, (rather than the Managing Partner, Practice Manager or ‘HR’ Manager) are responsible for setting the culture, defining the standards and overseeing the environment in which people are being asked to contribute. It’s their business after all.
In recent years, firms have introduced numerous benefits and incentives designed to improve employees’ working conditions such as health
Therein lies a major problem. Many law firm Partners still do not appreciate the role of
leadership, assuming it to be more about command and control rather than motivating and engaging people around a shared purpose and vision. As writer John Maxwell has written, ‘It’s not the position that makes the leader, but the leader who makes the position.’
firm and their working lives. The answers can be revealing and instructive. By giving their people a say, law firm leaders have a much higher chance of building trust and engagement. Mistrusting employees may be sceptical about this approach, so it is essential that this process is seen for what it is: an endeavour to involve them for the good of the business rather than a witch hunt.
So what can firms do to break the impasse? Here are four key initiatives to get the ball rolling in your firm: Set your purpose. Answer the question, ‘why does our firm exist?’ Contrary to many Partners’ beliefs, it is not to make money. Every business has a purpose beyond making money. While profit is the life-blood of a business, it is not the reason for its existence; it is simply a measure of its viability. The primary purpose of a law firm is to serve the interests of its clients; by solving problems, helping businesses grow and families prosper, it helps society to function. Thereafter you need to ensure that every objective or initiative you embark on is consistent with your overall purpose. Working for a firm that has an overriding sense of social purpose is one way people can find more meaning in their work. Measure what matters. Being more productive in a law firm traditionally means working longer hours or billing more. Yet time or ‘presenteeism’ is not a true measure of productivity. Productivity refers to outcomes (results gained/value delivered) rather than inputs (time spent at the office and hours billed). In attempting to improve productivity, while promoting work/life balance, many organisations have now introduced flexible work practices. One pioneer is New Zealand trust company Perpetual Guardian, who successfully trialled and implemented a four-day week in 2018. Staff were asked to design a work schedule that would permit them to meet their existing productivity requirement on the same salary but with a twenty percent cut in work hours. As its CEO, Andrew Barnes writes in his compelling book ‘The 4 Day Week’, the results have been stunning: engagement, productivity and profitablity have increased, stress levels have decreased and work/life balanced enhanced significantly. The idea is catching on, even in legal circles – Portcullis Legals in Plymouth being one example.
“If you want your people to succeed, you have to help them to build their capabilities by investing in their learning and development”
Invest in your people. If you want your people to succeed, you have to help them to build their capabilities by investing in their learning and development. As the old adage states: ‘if you think training is expensive, try ignorance’! Nevertheless, many firms still view training more as a cost, privilege or reward, rather than a requirement. I have even had experience of team members being refused permission to attend a seminar, workshop or other similar learning opportunities, either because the firm did not support a learning culture or it was simply unwilling to invest the money. Nothing is more de-motivating to an employee than being told they are not allowed to learn new skills. I encourage firms to adopt a professional development programme that includes a blend of hard and soft business and interpersonal skills. Law firms today have to compete for talent just as they have to compete for clients. Like clients, potential recruits have a choice as to where and how they work. Firms that can demonstrate they have a workplace culture that puts its people, not just its partners, at the centre of its decision-making, will have the advantage when it comes to recruitment and retention. The evidence increasingly shows that when firms do this, they will easily outperform those other firms who are still stuck in the last century. Apart from being commercially expedient, it is simply the right thing to do. 1. Financial Times: ‘Can Lawyers learn to go home and get more sleep?’ 12 Sept 2019
Ask your people for their perspectives. Everyone has a role to play in building and shaping the culture of a firm. So it follows they should be a part of the solution. Ask them (either via an online survey or focus group or team retreat) for their ideas, suggestions and opinions about your workplace; what works, what doesn’t, what ideas they have to enhance the
is an international speaker, author and mentor to law firms
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A passion for equality, diversity and inclusion
Dame Ingrid Ann Simler, DBE, The Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Simler is a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. She is the lead Judge for Diversity. At the Bar, Dame Ingrid was recognised for her expertise across a range of areas including employment law, tax litigation, public and administrative law, and human rights. Here she talks to Modern Law’s Editor, Pete Ward, about her career and passion for equality, diversity and inclusion. took silk, which meant doing a lot more appellate work in the Court of Appeal and often in the Supreme Court. There came a point for me where, having been a member of the Bar, Council and chaired the Bar Council’s Equality and Diversity Committee challenging the lack of diversity in the judiciary, I felt I had to put my hat in the ring. So I applied to be a judge in 2013. I didn’t expect to get it, but I did and I became a judge in the Queen’s Bench Division which deals with work across the whole spectrum of the law, from the most serious criminal trials, murder trials, and serious sexual offences, to contractual disputes, to judicial review challenges to public authorities and government, and sitting occasionally in the Court of Appeal.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your own experiences joining the profession and how it’s changed since then? A. I was a barrister for many years before becoming a judge. However, I started my career at a common law set where I did a little bit of everything to begin with. Progressively I got onto the Government Treasury panels, which enabled me to specialise and experience new areas of work. I became a specialist in employment, public law, and tax litigation. I was appointed the standing counsel for HMRC in 2002, which was fantastically interesting, though sometimes scary! Then in 2006 I
In 2018, I was promoted to the Court of Appeal, however I didn’t take up my role until June 2019. By statute, the number of places in the Court of Appeal is limited, as is the High Court, so you can only have 38 judges in the Court of Appeal. I had to wait for Sir Brian Leveson to retire and I stepped into his shoes. Sitting in the Court of Appeal brought further variety of work and, in addition to all the other areas of work, I’m now dealing with appeals from cases in family matters and cases in what would traditionally be called the Chancery Division, now the Business and Property court. It’s hugely varied, interesting, challenging, and actually a huge privilege. The most amazing thing for me is that having had a wonderful career at the Bar, I had the opportunity when turning 50 to start a whole new career, which has been equally amazing so far and I have no doubt will continue to be. Rather than this being an icing on the cake career situation, it feels as if it were a whole new career. Although I‘m still dealing with the law, and I’m still in court, sitting on the other side of the bench is a very different experience to fighting the case for your client. There are different pressures, different responsibilities, and it’s surprising how different the experience is. I also thought, prior to becoming a judge, that it must be very lonely but I was very wrong about that. It’s been collegiate and my fellow judges are supportive, friendly, and obviously very intelligent.
“I was constantly against male QCs and other male barristers, and in front of male judges. There were many occasions when it felt like I was the only woman in the courtroom”
The Bar is a self-employed profession. When I started, there was no obligation on chambers to make arrangements permitting women to return after maternity leave, to provide them with any sort of support during that period, or to do
Another thing I benefited from, and we need to ensure this happens more often, is the huge degree of sponsorship I received both from men in my chambers, and women, although there weren’t as many of them. In general I think men get a higher level of sponsorship than women and we need to redress that imbalance so that talented women receive encouragement and support, and are considered when opportunities arise. Q. You are one of the few women to head a barristers’ set at the UK Bar and you were the first woman to be appointed President of the Employment Appeal Tribunal since its creation; what has it been like to be a female professional paving the way in the sector? A. Mostly it’s been irrelevant that I’m a woman. The two areas of law that I’ve worked in were very different. Employment is quite female dominated. There are many women solicitors and a lot of women barristers, and I had no sense that I was a minority. Tax litigation was different. There were very few women solicitors on the litigation side then, though that has probably changed now as it’s such an attractive area of law. But then, I was constantly against male QCs and other male barristers, and in front of male judges. There were many occasions when it felt like I was the only woman in the courtroom!
Q. Can you share with us any particular challenges during your career? A. From a gender perspective, there have been huge challenges during that time - despite the huge strides being made, I don’t think they have all been resolved. When I was called to the Bar in 1987, the numbers of men and women were pretty close to equal at entry level. That applies to the solicitor side of the profession too. The difficulty is the attrition rate; when you look at the number of women at partner and QC level for the Bar, the female representation is significantly reduced. I think 16% of women are QCs, whereas for solicitors it’s 33% of partners in smaller firms and 29% in larger firms. I would suggest that’s largely a consequence of women having to balance their wish to have families and careers, and they either choose to leave altogether or choose to go into an area, or a job, that they see as more family friendly. That I see as the main challenge.
anything to accommodate their different needs. That has changed immensely both at the Bar and on the solicitor side, but I think the challenge is to ensure that the working environment and the culture, which was never designed to accommodate the needs of women, changes to meet their different needs.
“Collaboration between the different parts of the legal sector is imperative if we’re going to achieve a better and more diverse representation of different people in the judiciary” 12
That can be a little unsettling and intimidating. Nothing that anybody did was conscious or deliberate but there was a sense of not being part of this gentlemen’s club. So, I put on my mask and pretended – and I was quite good at that. After a little while I forgot about it, the case started, I got into my stride and it all went very well - or badly - but it had nothing to do with gender. There were a few occasions when I felt that I was poorly treated because I was a woman. Once, when I was appealing from the upper tier tribunal tax to the Chancery Division, the judge gave me very short shrift. He wasn’t interested in anything I had to say and eventually the hearing came to an end. I was quite cross and my male QC opponent said that if I wanted to complain he would support me. I didn’t complain but I did appeal to the Court of Appeal and won. At
the time I thought it had been an issue because I was a woman, but afterwards male colleagues said they’d had similar experiences with the same judge and it had nothing to do with gender. I really can’t point to anything in my career where I felt that I was held back by being a woman, or treated differently by being a woman, apart from that occasional sense of being the only one in the courtroom! And the answer to that is you just get on with it! Q. You are a huge advocate for equality, diversity and inclusion; although much has been done to create a more inclusive sector, what more can be done – and is further collaboration the answer? A. Collaboration between the different parts of the legal sector is imperative if we’re going to achieve a better and more diverse representation in the judiciary. That’s partly because the judiciary is a feeder career, it’s a second career, and the pool that we fish in for our appointments is the legal sector: solicitors, the Bar, CILEx, and legal academics. Now, if those areas don’t produce a diverse pool at the top, that’s inevitably going to dictate who feeds through into the judiciary. There are a large number of outreach programmes run by the Judicial Office in conjunction with the Judicial Appointments Commission, or with The Law Society, the Bar, or CILEx, depending on who we’re trying to reach out to. Doing this together is a much more effective means of reaching out to more diverse groups. We have many support programmes for people wanting to come into the judiciary from non-traditional backgrounds. We have various other programmes, including school engagement programmes, where we reach out to schools to inspire girls and children from different minority ethnic backgrounds with visits from Diversity and Community Relations Judges. We have a Pre-application Judicial Education (PAJE) Programme which is targeted at lawyers from under-represented groups to give them the support and confidence to apply for judicial roles. So, yes, collaboration is essential and we need to do more to ensure that we are focusing on the best programmes to achieve the best results. Q. Following the success of diversity initiatives over the last decade, what targets would you prioritise for the next ten years? A. I had always thought that once you reach 25% representation that’s the tipping point and things will continue to go in the right direction. I’m still hoping that’s the case. In almost every area of the senior judiciary, and the circuit, we
“My priority now is to see the same, or a similar, shift in representation for black and minority ethnic, social mobility and LGBTQ+ groups as has occurred for women”
“…absolutely everybody, who has the intellectual ability and desire, should see the legal profession as open to all, whatever their protected characteristics might be” 13
are well into the 20-30s percentages – and 40% in tribunals – for gender balance and we must continue to run the programmes to ensure that level of diversity is retained and increases. We must also focus on black and minority ethnic representation, social mobility and people with other different protected characteristics. A couple of weeks ago the Master of the Rolls spoke at an LGBTQ event. The strong message from the panel was that everybody who has the intellectual ability and desire, should see the legal profession as open to all - whatever their protected characteristics might be. My priority now is to see the same, or a similar shift, in representation for black and minority ethnic, social mobility and LGBTQ+ groups as has occurred for women. Q. What advice would you give to women who are walking the path of empowerment to become the lawyers and barristers of tomorrow? A. It might sound obvious, but there’s no getting away from the fact that it’s a career that requires very hard work. However, it’s an incredibly fulfilling career and one that, if you are prepared to work hard, produces huge rewards in terms of intellectual satisfaction and fulfilment. It can be achieved while balancing family life. I have four, now grown up, children and I don’t think they suffered from me being a working mum. So I would say to young women that they have to take responsibility for owning and driving their careers. Nobody else is going to do that for you. You must make the most of every opportunity that comes along. Make the piece of work that you’re asked to do, or the project that you’re invited to work on, the best work you can do because that’s how you create a network of supportive colleagues. Part of a successful career is having a wide network of those who know and respect you, and who will encourage, support and recommend you and so become a source of work. It’s what my pupil master used to call ‘creating a virtuous circle’ – and I like that term.
The Rt. Hon. Lady Justice Simler is a judge of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales
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“If you can be successful using only half the potential workforce just think what you can do with access to all of it”
Helping women achieve their potential Modern Law spoke to Clare Wardle, General Counsel and Company Secretary at Coca-Cola European Partners plc, about how businesses and organisations can attract, develop and retain the best talent. Wardle is a great advocate for women in business and shares her thoughts on diversity and inclusion within the workplace and why it is important if we want to become progressive and collaborative companies. At CCEP, it is increasingly clear to us that if we really are recruiting and promoting on merit we will have no problem in attaining our target of 40% of women in management by 2025. Culture for us is just as key – we are determined it is a place where everyone feels comfortable and can succeed regardless of their background.
Q. How do we need to address the structural barriers and create cultural change at the organisational level for women to succeed and advance in business? A. Businesses and organisations need to look at two key elements: how we attract the best people and how we develop and retain them. On recruitment, part of it is getting the policies and mechanics right. We need to have balanced candidate lists and balanced interview panels. Just as importantly, we need to show potential candidates that this is a place where they will be welcome.
Q. You helped to establish the Kingfisher Woman’s Network, which aimed to help women achieve their potential while at Kingfisher. What were your reasons behind establishing this network and what were the outcomes?
Developing all our talent is just as important – again, part of this is mechanics, measuring the promotions and progression of female employees using actual data set against objective and quantifiable benchmarks.
A. We started the Kingfisher Woman’s Network because it was clear that we needed to unlock the potential for women to grow and succeed across all our businesses. Over 40% of senior management in our Russian and Turkish businesses were women
but that wasn’t the case across the world. In the worst places, we only had 17%.
we are lucky enough to have a chairman in Sol Daurella, who is happy to get personally involved and a CEO in Damian Gammell who is actively supportive.
Part of that was because in those businesses we were looking at women as a problem that had to be addressed with special policies, flexible working and maternity leave, instead of looking at them as a great resource who made a fantastic contribution to the business and could understand our key customers. The results speak for themselves. It is important to say that the senior management at the time, including Ian Cheshire Veronique Laury, and Steve Willett, supported this. Q. How effective and important do you think a mentoring program is and what are the benefits of having a mentor when looking to progress in business? A. Any successful executive can point to formal or informal mentors who have been instrumental in helping their career. In business, we need to make sure that everyone has access to the right mentor, not just those who find it easy to get the ear of the next level up because they share the same interests or background. Getting the right mentor-mentee partnership is good for both parties, and more than anything, a good relationship grants the opportunity to harness the experience and view of someone new and different; and gain a healthy sense-check on one’s own thoughts and processes. That’s why it is often most helpful to look for a mentor who is different from you – someone to challenge and broaden your views, rather than simply re-affirm them. As I say, this is a two way street. Particularly in this age of fast moving digital and other changes, reverse mentoring, allowing the more senior of the two an insight into the world of the more junior, can be immensely valuable. Q. What do organisations need to do to attract and retain women in business?
Q. How can a diverse workforce drive a progressive and collaborative company?
“We were looking at women as a problem that had to be addressed with special policies, flexible working and maternity leave, instead of looking at them as a great resource who made a fantastic contribution to the business and could understand our key customers”
A. Warren Buffett pointed out that if you can be successful using only half the potential workforce just think what you can do with access to all of it. Why would you limit your options? A diverse workforce enables you to understand your customers and build better, stronger relationships. A diversity of voices and opinions also helps to avoid groupthink, manage risk and remain relevant. Cognitive diversity is key to driving excellence and coming up with new solutions and approaches. Q. What are the core values of Coca-Cola European Partners? A. There are some fundamental values we’re passionate about. We always focus on the customer; we strive to execute with speed and agility moving quickly and removing barriers; we empower employees to win together, listening and caring about what everyone has to say; and we have a passion for growth. Sustainability is also at the heart of everything we do. Last year we set out 21 commitments in our joint sustainability action plan with The Coca Cola Company, This is Forward. Developed in consultation with over 100 stakeholders across government, business and the supply chain – as well as thousands of consumers and employees across Europe. This is Forward sets clear and ambitious sustainability goals on some of the most pressing issues facing society today. That includes a commitment to 40% of women in management by 2025. Q. How is Coca-Cola European Partners including diversity and inclusion in their business strategy? A. This starts at Board level for us. We have a target of 29% of women on our Board by the end of 2020 and the Board monitors progress against our diversity plan and targets through the Nomination Committee.
A. Make sure that you are giving the right impression – make sure you showcase the full range of your diverse workforce in your external communications, and then walk the walk. Everything I’ve already talked about is part of ensuring that people feel included, valued and listened to. Sometimes it is the simple things – for instance, making sure that women on maternity leave all have a buddy whose job it is to keep them up to date with what is happening at work.
There is an overarching diversity framework. Every business unit and department in CCEP has a diversity and inclusion plan and the business unit and function plans are reviewed by the Group Executive team. This approach is mirrored at unit level and results monitored.
Tone from the top is very important. At CCEP,
pupils that encourages thousands of players into the sport each school year. Add to that initiatives, such as a soon to be launched fund to help kids who can’t afford equipment or travel, and we have great ideas to engage a wide range of people into the sport.
Just as importantly, the leadership is expected to live the values and drive an inclusive culture. Q. Confidence is an important attribute to leadership, so how important is it when trying to filter a company culture or message through a business?
There are many really worthwhile initiatives that would benefit from more support, so do let me know if you’d like to help!
A. Developing confidence comes from trust in their leadership: trust that employees will be supported and developed to deliver their best, that good performance will be rewarded, and they can progress at the right speed. Confidence comes from knowing that employees are doing a good job for our customers and that they are valued for it. It is essential to deliver these messages – if you do not believe in yourself, your team will not believe in you. Our mentoring and leadership programmes are also valuable in helping them develop self-confidence and the networks essential for success. Q. What is your role at Basketball England and how are you looking to engage everyone in the game? A. Basketball is one of the most popular team sports in the country. It has the ability to engage communities in some of the most underprivileged areas in the UK and at its core, the sport is one of the country’s most inclusive. The BAME demographic of those involved in the game is over 50% - a much higher percentage than most other popular sports. When all you need is a hoop and a ball, getting started is easy. Basketball also has a tremendous capacity to help people both on and off the court with life skills, confidence building, social impact and more, not to mention the mental health and fitness benefits!
Q. What advice would you give to women who are looking to progress into senior level positions?
“Businesses and organisations need to look at two key elements: how we attract the best people and how we develop and retain them”
A. Have the confidence to succeed. You are likely to be your own worst critic, and if you are not seeing yourself clearly enough to know what you need to do to get that next step, get yourself a mentor. Get out there and develop a great support network and listen to them. Ask for help and advice. But do what is right for you. And finally – enjoy yourself.
is the General Counsel and Company Secretary of Coca-Cola European Partners plc; she is also the Chairman of Basketball England
As Chairman of Basketball England, I am keen to bring together all those in the sport to work together and ensure as many people as possible can experience and be inspired by basketball. We have launched a number of strategy documents in recent months detailing how we plan to take the sport forward. Coaching and officiating plans complement our six-year strategy document, and we also have an ambitious plan for getting more women and girls involved in the game.
Clare was appointed as General Counsel and Company Secretary at Coca-Cola European Partners in May 2016. She has considerable international experience in risk, governance, competition and compliance. Between 2010 and May 2016, Clare has played a leading role in many development and expansion projects as Group General Counsel at Kingfisher – Europe’s largest home improvement retail group. During her time at the FTSE100 Company, she launched the hugely successful Kingfisher Women’s Network, which has seen an increase of senior women within the business.
We have some great programmes to help the sport grow, from “Slam Jam”, an introductory programme aimed at giving young players a great first experience, to NBA backed “Jr. NBA Basketball England Leagues” for year 7 and 8
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“The most satisfying achievement for me is having this remarkable team of people that I get to work with every day”
The making of a people manager James Thornton, CEO of ClientEarth and winner of Managing Partner of the Year at the Modern Law Awards 2020, told Modern Law what he believes makes a good people manager as he reminisced about his career and successes at Europe’s leading environmental law organisation. Q. What attributes do you think make for a good people manager?
Q. What has been your most important achievement so far? A. Apart from winning Managing Partner of the Year at the Modern Law Awards, setting up Client Earth has been a big undertaking for the last 13 years, and on one level, that is an achievement - setting up a nonprofit environmental group that has now grown to have global impact. The second is the impact in the real world that the team at ClientEarth has made. For example, we’ve stopped 38 coal fired power stations from being built in Europe. And we had successful clean air cases in the UK and now all over Europe, which will require the air to be much cleaner so that hundreds of thousands of people will be healthier in the EU. But what I’m most proud of is having built the team at ClientEarth. We now have 170 people and we have lawyers from 17 countries. What excites me the most are their ideas; they come up with creative ways to use the law to solve environmental problems. They’re coming up with terrific ideas that work in the real world and go far beyond what I could invent on my own. So, the most satisfying achievement for me is having this remarkable team of people that I get to work with every day.
A. A good people manager needs a high EQ (emotional intelligence), and we can all improve on this. You need to be a good listener, and then, of course, you need to have a vision of where the organisation is going, and have the ability to move back and forth between where the organisation needs to go and how to listen to people and give them what they need. Q. Who has inspired you throughout your career? A. There are two legal figures that have inspired me, one being my Dad. He was a Law Professor. I have memories of him, and my brothers and I sat around the dinner table having discussions, which I only realised many years later that my Father had organised by the Socratic method. He was teaching us how to argue by asking us questions such as: how do you know that? How can you support that? What’s your evidence for that? And we had tremendous fun. Dinner time became an interesting game that turned out to be training for us all to become lawyers. And sure enough, all four boys became lawyers!
Q. What key insights do all people managers need to know for success? A. People managers need to understand that people want to be useful and make a difference. They want to do something meaningful. So, how do you create an opportunity for people to do something that they feel is genuinely meaningful, and makes a genuine contribution to society?
In the US, after graduating from Law School, and if you are lucky, you may work for a Judge. That is exactly what I did. He was a great American Judge who had played a central role in desegregating the south of the United States. He implemented one of the most famous American Supreme Court decisions called Brown v. Board of Education by issuing injunctions that required the busing of black children into white neighbourhoods so that the schools would be mixed. It was something that really helped improve race relations in America in the long term. So, between my dad and Judge John Minor Wisdom, they were both inspirations for me.
Listen to your people and try and give them opportunities within their individual scope where they can be their most creative self.
is the CEO at ClientEarth
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Practice Performance Matters
Bringing the lawyer’s voice to the fore
Helen Libson, Global Engagement Manager at Peerpoint, is the Co-Author of the Future for Legal Talent Report – a major study into how lawyers view their careers in a new world. The results have led to some interesting insights; which, during her interview with Modern Law, Helen shed some light on, in terms of career aspirations, expectations, and the hopes and fears of lawyers in the light of a changing industry. Q. Can you tell us about the Future for Legal Talent report and the drive behind it?
around the future of law firms, legal functions and technology but little focus on the actual lawyers themselves. We wanted to open up a broader dialogue around them.
A. The Future for Legal Talent is a report we published off the back of a large piece of research we conducted about lawyers and their careers. We were keen to understand how lawyers felt about the future and discuss their aspirations, hopes and fears. We surveyed over 1,000 lawyers in the UK and Asia Pacific, covering in-house, private practice and consultant lawyers.
Q. What was the main surprise in your findings? A. We were quite shocked by the gap between how many lawyers felt they would need differing skill sets to be successful in the future and how prepared they currently felt. For instance, 84% of lawyers agreed they’d need different skills today than they had
The driver was to give voice to the lawyers and explore how those at the sharp end felt. There was so much noise in the market
done in the past but only 30% felt prepared for that change.
of work rather than just theoretical training. That’s something unique that we can offer at Peerpoint.
Another surprise was that 72% of lawyers surveyed chose ‘good work/life balance’ as the top indicator of what success looked like. We suspected it would be high but not by that much. It came above seniority and pay; a shift in the historical markers of success.
Not only do our consultants want to grow their existing skill set, but some want to shift into new areas requiring new skills. This is something that is much more difficult to do in a traditional law firm setting.
I think it shows how expectations have shifted in terms of personal satisfaction and what lawyers are demanding from employers.
Q. Do you believe that technology/AI can truly replace the role of the lawyer in the future, and what threat might that pose to young talent?
We work very closely with our consultants to understand what it is that they want to gain in terms of skills and experiences. Our consultant management team and client team then work together to find the right opportunities to facilitate that. If we feel that consultants might gain from extra support in new areas, we’ll also work with Allen & Overy to provide extra training and resources.
A. We found that lawyers were positive about the effect technology could have on their career – 61% of respondents said that it would significantly and positively change how their career path developed.
Some of our consultants have made really successful and exciting transitions from one specialism to another, which is always gratifying to see and something unique we are able to deliver.
I absolutely believe that lawyers have a valuable role in the future, but I think that role will shift. In many cases it will allow lawyers more freedom to work on the interesting aspects of the law and cut down the lengthy, more mundane tasks. This is particularly relevant to young talent.
Q. How is the required skill set changing for those wanting to progress their careers?
The real challenge around technology for lawyers will be their openness to embrace it. Working with technology is about optimising a lawyer’s time and in most cases it’s not about needing to understand complex software. I would encourage lawyers to start small and look at their day-to-day, from being open to making adjustments their everyday programmes like Microsoft Outlook, to taking an interest in the technology being developed in their area. Technology should be viewed as augmenting, not replacing roles.
Q. What opportunities do you think Peerpoint can offer that traditional Law firm models may not, in the ability to reskill? A. The key about reskilling is that it’s most effective when it comes from gaining experience and exposure to different teams and types
“There was so much noise in the market around the future of law firms, legal functions and technology but little focus on the actual lawyers themselves. We wanted to open up a broader dialogue around them” 22
A. I think it’s changing greatly. Differentiating oneself is key to progressing in a way that wasn’t so important in the past. Technical ability amongst peers is mostly identical and as teams diversify and people increasingly move between organisations, it will become key to not only identify and build on one’s skill sets but also market and communicate them to others. Broadening skill sets beyond the traditional technical capabilities will help lawyers stay ahead. Technological skills, a stronger personal brand, and greater commercial awareness were top of the list when we asked lawyers what skills they would need over the next 5-10 years. I think there’s been an interesting shift, reflected in the wider world of work beyond law, to acknowledge the value of what has previously been called ‘soft skills’. Being able to communicate and collaborate effectively will have a huge impact, especially as the legal industry evolves to encompass technology and more diverse roles. We see increasing interest from clients with project management skills who can juggle both the wider commercial context and the organisational skills to drive projects forward.
Q. Do you think the definition of ‘success’ has changed, and what impact does that have on running a legal function? A. Definitions of success have definitely changed. However, I would say that there isn’t one standard as to what it looks like. For many, seniority will still be their top requisite and for others it might be variety in their work or control – for most it’s a combination. I do think there is a greater expectation on employers to deliver a fulfilling career that ticks more boxes than before. In an increasingly competitive talent market with more fluidity this puts extra pressure on those running legal functions to deliver. It’s also important for those running legal functions to remember that these definitions constantly evolve as one moves through a career, so it’s key to keep checking in with your team members.
“ I […] think there is a greater expectation on employers to deliver a fulfilling career that ticks more boxes than before”
We found that, overall, lawyers are satisfied with their profession (74%) but find the career opportunities frustrating. Previously it felt like private practice and in-house were the only options but there are now many career paths to take, don’t be limited by thinking in a linear way about your career. Consulting is a great option to refresh oneself, whether you want to explore it long term or simply use it as an exciting way to upskill and gain experience in a new area with a view to taking another permanent role. For many lawyers,taking back control over their career and being able to pick and choose work is hugely revitalising and allows them to get on with what they originally loved doing. Consulting isn’t just for senior lawyers, we see great demand from clients for lawyers who are at the earlier stages of their careers. There are also ways in which lawyers can utilise their legal skills in interesting roles that aren’t necessarily purelylegal. Thinking about a career in terms of skills rather than a list of transactions and pieces of work is helpful when understanding what a lawyer is good at and how to promote themselves in the market.
Q. How can firms develop and support talent when they have limited capacity for promotions?
I would also encourage them to constantly check in about what it is that they want from their career and where there might be gaps to fill in and address – a bi-annual review is a great way to structure those check-ins.
A. Where capacity for promotion is limited, it’s helpful to think of what you are adding to an employee’s career in a wider sense, even beyond the firm or business you work for. If seniority isn’t possible, it’s all about how you can deliver growth that helps individuals feel they’re moving forward in their career. Sometimes for this to happen we need to break out of a mentality, arguably prevalent in the legal industry, that talent moving on is a bad thing. Perversely, sometimes helping equip talent with skills to make a success outside of your firm or organisation is a great way of retaining them.
Q. For those who have lost the love for their career or feel unsupported in their career ambitions, what advice would you give them?
is the Global Engagement Manager at Peerpoint To read Peerpoint’s full Future for Legal Talent Report, visit their website: https://www.peerpoint.com/on-point/ future-for-legal-talent
A. It’s possible to get the love back! In many cases, if you’re feeling burnt out and at the point of disillusionment it can be an exhausting process to try and see a way forward.
Making diversity and inclusion work One of the eight objectives laid out in the Legal Services Act is for us at the SRA, as a regulator of around 150,000 solicitors and 10,000 firms, to encourage an independent, strong, diverse and effective workforce.
o-one could really argue with the logic – an independent, strong and effective legal sector is good for society and essential for the administration of justice. And the profession needs to reflect communities, helping to make their services more accessible for more people. Our own research suggests that one of the main barriers to this, is that too many people believe solicitors are not representative of them and therefore would not understand their needs. But of course, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the best thing to do. A diverse business is a better business. Need convincing? A study by leading economic researchers McKinsey & Company concluded that businesses which are more diverse are 15-35% more likely to outperform others in their industries – a real ‘diversity dividend.’ Our ‘Business Case for Diversity’ report sets out what that means in our sector.
Making progress The good news is that we increasingly find evidence of firms being proactive in this area.
“Whether you employ one person or one thousand, creating an environment where your team feels valued, comfortable and free from barriers to progress is good for everyone”
In January, leading LGBT charity, Stonewall,
released its latest annual list of the top performing UK employers regarding lesbian, gay, bi and trans inclusivity. It was good to see 14 law firms in the top 100 alone – one in seven – and we were proud to join them ourselves. The latest data we collect is due to be published soon and early indications show year-on-year improvements in gender, race and socioeconomic representation levels.
But still more to do While overall the number of female lawyers is now 49%, women only represent a third of partners. The numbers for BAME partners is as high as one in three in small and one partner firms, but drops to less than 10% in the biggest firms. We also know that only 3% of solicitors identify as disabled, when nationally the Government estimates 13% of the UK workforce has some form of disability. This suggests many disabled solicitors are not declaring their disability, so are missing out on any support. Disability Research on Independent Living and Learning, a group led by those with disabilities, published a report in January. Their work found that disabled lawyers faced daily discrimination because of ignorance, prejudice and unconscious bias.
It also confirmed that many hid their disability from their employer. So we all have much more to do.
Support to get it right Whether you employ one person or one thousand, creating an environment where your team feels valued, comfortable and free from barriers to progress is good for everyone. The good news is that there are lots of ideas and resources out there. We can all learn from the people we work with – after all they will know better than anyone what day-today improvements could make your working environment more accessible and welcoming to a broader range of people.
Mentoring As regulator, we are keen to do more to connect those who are keen to learn more with those who are already reaping the benefits of adopting ever more inclusive approaches. That is why over the coming months we are launching our new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion mentoring scheme.
“But of course, recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce isn’t just the right thing to do – it’s the best thing to do”
leading the way in embracing how they develop inclusive internal cultures. It will then look to share this knowledge wider throughout the profession by using these firms as mentors, offering an agreed level of free advice and mentorship to others in the sector. Whether you are interested in being a mentor or mentee, do look out for details of how to get involved in this scheme over coming months.
is SRA Executive Director of External and Corporate Affairs
The scheme will bring together a community of firms, of all shapes and sizes, who are
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is Chief Technology Officer at poweredbypie
is Director at Index PI
People are priceless
People power vs rise of the robots We use tech in our everyday lives to take some of the pain away from chores such as shopping, so it makes sense to transfer some of this over to our working lives to give us the same time saving benefits. But what is the cost to the human workforce?
Without a core team of qualified and effective employees it is impossible for a business to build a brand and develop a unique customer experience, and this is true whatever the business happens to be. Employees are one of the most important factors in any company; whether the business is a large multinational organisation or a small start-up, the people employed are absolutely vital to its success.
Last year the Office of National Statistics released a study claiming that over 1.5m jobs in the UK were at risk from automation, the process of replacing manual tasks with technology, with lower skilled jobs being most impacted.
Fundamentally though, no employee exists in a vacuum and it is vital that the organisation has a well formed set of core values that it lives by, and which resonates across the full spectrum of its workforce. Core values support the vision, shape the culture and reflect what a company stands for; they are the essence of the company identity. Too many companies focus mostly on technical competencies and forget that establishing strong core values provide both internal and external corporate advantage.
The legal industry and the conveyancing process in particular are prime examples of how automating tasks can speed up processes. Forms can now be filled, shared and submitted digitally, cloud-based storage is used to keep data safe and provide audit trails and the vast majority of our searches, insurance policies and due diligence products are now ordered online. Modern legal practices have been embracing this kind of technology for many years and as new developments come to the forefront, it’s clear that there’s a real opportunity to further streamline business processes using software.
When you consider values such as accountability, commitment, diversity, integrity and ownership it becomes immediately apparent that not only are the right employees key to keeping clients happy and establishing a lasting reputation, they are also central to a company’s internal business culture.
So, what about the people? In its whitepaper ‘From Brawn to Brains – the impact of technology on jobs on the UK’, Deloitte argues that there is strong evidence to suggest that technology “has helped create nearly 3.5million higher skilled jobs”.
Recruiting and retaining people that create the desired internal culture can help any business to continue hiring “right minded” employees for years to come. This, in turn, will have a positive effect on the quality of service that the business delivers. Companies and employees globally are noticing a shift in the workplace due to rapid changes in technology, culture and economies, and both are realising that they must adapt. Advances in technology and global competition for talent are impacting the way people work; there is increased workplace flexibility, ease of communication and a growing need to constantly learn new skills. And there is a growing focus on doing work that is personally meaningful and fulfils a sense of purpose.
The question here is not will people be replaced by technology, but rather what can people do to secure employment in a technology driven world? For example, at poweredbypie we firmly believe that our technology empowers people to direct their expertise into other areas of the business, such as providing excellent service, rather than getting bogged down with admin tasks that could be automated. It’s not about replacing people, it’s about making the most of their skills, and in some cases upskilling, allowing them to flourish.
In an increasingly globalised digital world, organisations are finding that there is more to the equation of recruiting than initially meets the eye. Diversity is a top concern for businesses of all types and sizes, but the best employees are those who are hired in order to be a good cultural fit. This might mean, in evaluating any prospective future colleague, that selection is based upon an alignment with values and goals rather than purely on technical competencies. Contentment in the workplace and valued work will hugely impact the ability and desire of employees and colleagues to give 100% to the job. We shouldn’t hesitate to hire people who have the right attitude and make for a great fit but must then back this up with a thorough and professional on-boarding process and continued investment in training.
Take ‘chatbots’. These automated online chat forms are a useful addition to your website, a means of first contact using pre-scripted data to answer customer enquiries. This is all well and good for simple queries such as ‘where can I find your contact details?’ but for more complicated and case specific questions, technology will struggle to keep up. Great customer service at its heart is all about people talking to people to find a solution to a problem. Whilst it’s true that technology is fast becoming a staple in modern day law firms, helping to streamline repetitive manual processes, it’s also important to remember where technology comes from. It’s the people behind the technology that make the difference.
If they weren’t priceless at the outset then creating the right working environment, an alignment of values, respect and encouragement for the individual, together with progressive training and development will surely make our people priceless for the future.
“The question here is not will people be replaced by technology, but rather what can people do to secure employment in a technology driven world?”
“Recruiting and retaining people that create the desired internal culture can help any business to continue hiring “right minded” employees for years to come” 27
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is General Manager of Marketing at InfoTrack
is Chief Executive at SmartSearch
Staff retention in the era of the Millennial
People and tech – not people vs tech
Millennials comprise around half of today’s workforce and are set to takeover 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025. A generation often mislabelled as entitled are simply different than the generations past. In order to retain millennial talent in an unpredictable economic climate, businesses need to focus on what employees expect from their careers.
Let me start by stating the blindingly obvious: without customers you don’t have a business and without new customers you don’t have a long-term growing business. In our business, we harness technology to deliver our service and serve our staff, and we employ our staff to serve our clients. It’s called customer service and if you deal with us you will know exactly what I mean.
What I can tell you is, it isn’t all about ping pong tables, bean bags and free drinks on a Friday.
People are at the heart of any business – lose sight of that at your peril. That applies just as much in the technology and software sector as it does in law, or retail, or anywhere else. Some leading business people place great store in endeavouring to automate just about everything, while not appreciating they are removing many of the contact points with their customers. An example is using voicemail and direct dial rather than employing a receptionist. At SmartSearch, we have two full-time receptionists as well as voicemail.
A recent study from Gallup suggests a staggering 87 percent of employees worldwide are disengaged in the workplace. That translates into an ineffective workforce with reduced productivity, increased sick leave and general negativity. However, there is good news! It isn’t too late to ensure we’re set up for the future. First, we must recognise what expectations millennials have of their careers. For many, it is purpose, fulfilment and the appropriate tools to complete that work. As digital natives they have grown with technologisation of the modern world. Born in the 80’s and 90’s, they watched televisions and radios switch from analogue to digital, cassettes transform into CD’s and then streaming services, and personal computers became a part of everyday life. Taking this rapid uptake of tech in their stride, they understand the value of the right tools at home and in the workplace.
Investing in good customer service is the central pillar of a successful business. If you lose customers almost as fast as you recruit new ones, then at best you will grow slowly, or you could be treading water whilst building up a mediocre reputation. Satisfied customers are the bedrock of your business, they are your best advocates and in the closely knit professional regulated communities, they have significant influence with their associates. At SmartSearch, we pride ourselves on delivering not just cutting-edge regulatory technology, but also excellent customer service. Our 98 percent client retention rate – including many top law firms – is testament to that fact. We could not provide our high level of service if our employees were a sullen group of clock-watchers, just waiting to go home.
While addressing purpose and fulfilment will come from a cultural shift and a shared understanding of the ‘why’, technology still seems to be a sticking point. 67% of millennials said it was the biggest source of intergenerational conflict in the workplace, according to research from Robert Walters. When staff, regardless of age, are bogged down by arduous administrative processes, they can struggle to find purpose in their work. Especially those who have studied to specialise in law, who are spending their days saving, uploading, printing and posting documents. They demand automated processes using the right technology to free up time to practise their chosen career more efficiently and rewardingly.
We invest in creating the environment and the rewards to ensure our people are enthusiastic and ‘committed to the cause’ – and this then shines through in the way they interact with our clients, and support each other as a team. It helps greatly that we resource our customer-services team up to seven times more than many of our competitors, who see customer service as an expensive overhead. But this focus on people doesn’t mean that firms should ignore technology. The two are often set up as being in conflict, but technology exists to serve people. Investing in the right technology should be part of a firm’s strategy for supporting its people, freeing them up to add more value.
The reality is, implementing this sort of valuable technology into your business model not only aids staff retention and satisfaction, but also provides rewarding customer experiences – more home movers than ever are millennials and expect the tech to match – as well as increased profitability and productivity. Embracing the evolution of workplace technology will not only keep you in stride with your employees, but also your customers.
In the case of a law firm, why would you want your people to spend valuable time performing manual anti-money-laundering checks, for example, when there are electronic solutions, fully recognised in new money-laundering regulations, that can take care of all your AML and customer due diligence needs?
“A recent study from Gallup suggests a staggering 87 percent of employees worldwide are disengaged in the workplace”
What’s important is that the technology does its job, is userfriendly and is backed up by good old-fashioned customer service. When it’s done right, the effective use of technology is good for your employees, your clients and, ultimately, your business.
is CEO and Co-Founder of Docscorp
Olly Thornton-Berry is Director at Thirdfort
Why replacing staff Starting from scratch: building a culture is lousy business It wasn’t uncommon, once, to know a dozen people who had been at their company for 20, 30, or even 50 years. Today it’s becoming increasingly rare, as career paths are less of a straight line and more of a jagged edge.
My co-founder, Jack, and I were by ourselves for the first 14 months of Thirdfort’s existence. On hiring our CTO, Udi, we built and launched our first product five months later. Since then, everything has changed – we have hired 14 people in 14 months and opened offices in Manchester and Sri Lanka.
At my company, we are especially proud of our employee tenure numbers. Nearly 20% of staff have been here for more than five years and 13% more than 10. We put it down to investing in the growth of our team at the same time as growth in our business. When we took on a new challenge, we promoted from within and encouraged people to learn new skills and then hit the ground running.
As first time founders, the learning curve in creating an exciting and productive work environment was steep, but having spoken to other founders and picked up many lessons along the way, I’ve observed two key things that I believe help foster a dynamic and inclusive culture.
But around 10% of the UK’s employed population will change jobs this year. And, you must ask, why wouldn’t they? Gifts of gold watches and prime parking spaces are out, and so is the expectation that university-educated millennials would look for a job for life.
Firstly, we encourage everyone, no matter what role, to challenge ideas across the organisation. This leads to better business decisions with the benefit amplified from a team with diverse backgrounds and skills (we have seven nationalities in our team of 17 spread across the business). I want the most junior team member to challenge ideas with as much rigour as me or Jack.
Not surprisingly, a Glassdoor 2019 report found 57% of the millennial workforce expected to change jobs within two years. This is bad news for law firms, where the costs of recruiting or replacing staff are exceptionally high.
In the early days, Jack and I wore 100 hats. From BD to accounting to client setup and support, it was dynamic but we quickly learnt that we couldn’t be experts at everything. In scaling, the priority became about hiring quality people and getting out of their way. As Steve Jobs remarked, ‘It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do’. I’m a firm believer in this approach – giving the right person autonomy frees them up to rapidly grow and exceed expectations. A collective operating this way is paramount and is why we work hard to hire and retain exceptional people who champion our core values.
In 2019, the average cost-per-hire for a UK employee was £3,000 (Glassdoor). Compare that to the £39,887 needed to replace one legal professional (Oxford Economics). The legal profession also has one of the longest ‘bedding-in periods,’ with new recruits needing up to 32 weeks to reach full productivity levels (Oxford Economics). That means every time an employee is replaced, up to seven months’ revenue is affected. Then there are recruitment costs, job advertising fees, and interview expenses. Plus, lost productivity for those involved in the hiring and onboarding process. Last year, the average length of the job interview process in the UK was 27.5 days (Glassdoor).
Secondly, I’ve observed the power of giving all employees access to what’s going on in the business (except for sensitive areas like compensation). This is harder operationally than one might imagine. Individual quarterly targets, weekly progress and cross function company folders are all open and we encourage new joiners to have a snoop around. Companies such as Monzo are particularly impressive here – their meteoric growth, from 300 employees in 2018 to 713 in 2019 whilst keeping a strong, cohesive culture (voted #1 LinkedIn employer 3 years running) is a testament to the benefit of investing in transparency.
So, how can your firm hang on to the staff it has? Some are incorporating short-terms wins for workers, like flexible working arrangements and salary bumps. There is no question these are valued changes, but firms shouldn’t forget about the long term. Firms must offer room to grow through training and development. Your staff must be able to clearly see where they could fit into the firm’s long-term plan, otherwise where is the incentive to stay?
Obviously, there are many intangible factors that help create a great culture but we’ve found constructive debate and letting capable people have visibility of 99.9% of the business crucial to us forming a strong, cohesive team of people without which Thirdfort would be impossible.
Above all else, people want an environment where they are treated with respect by other staff, and especially management, and that everyone in the business is working towards a common goal without office politics getting in the way. Staff must feel free to experiment and occasionally make and admit to mistakes, knowing that management will support them as they learn and grow.
“Gifts of gold watches and prime parking spaces are out, and so is the expectation that university-educated millennials would look for a job for life”
“Firstly, we encourage everyone, no matter what role, to challenge ideas across the organisation” 31
right people right skills right technology
w w w. c a r p e n t e r sg r o u p . c o . u k
E N D - TO-EN D CO MP LETE CL AIMS & L EGAL SOL U TI ON
is Head of Commercial Development at vLex Justis
is Marketing Manager at Geodesys
Employees - the key to success
Training and development
In 1961, President Kennedy visited NASA for the first time, where he was given a tour and the opportunity to meet staff. Stumbling across an employee, he asked what their role was. Without hesitation, the individual responded, ‘I’m helping put a man on the moon’, picked up his mop, turned, and continued on his way.
There is clear evidence to suggest that employees value the opportunity to develop, with recent research showing that approximately 40% of staff who do not receive adequate training end up leaving their job within a year¹. Additionally, allowing staff to augment their skillset ultimately means that they perform better in their role.
Remove NASA or the cleaner from the example, and the message remains the same. Employees are the cogs in the wheel of your company, the wings to your space shuttle and the strength that enables an organisation to succeed.
In the legal sector, professional development is essential, keeping practitioners informed of the latest legislative developments, and ensuring they have the knowledge and skills to deliver a professional service. In the conveyancing industry in particular, up-to-date knowledge translates to reduced risk for clients.
When you look at the success or strength of an organisation, it is often easier to look at high-level performance, the product or the USP. However, a more thorough investigation makes it apparent that none of these are possible without the staff that power them. Whilst the contribution of each employee is fundamental, the cumulative strength of an entire organisation is equally important. Just as a chain is only as strong as its weakest link; law firms, publishers and technology companies rely on each and every employee for success.
The past 12 months have seen numerous updates in compliancy requirements for conveyancing solicitors come into force, including changes to the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) and the new Anti Money Laundering (AML) Directive and conveyancing protocol. Whilst all these have been introduced with the aim of reducing risk and improving the home buying experience, feedback suggests that, for many, these updates are perceived as an additional burden. So, where can conveyancers find the appropriate training? There are several options:
In turn, employees quite rightly rely on leadership to guide them, and it is vital to provide strong foundations throughout all departments, and for these departments to have dynamic leaders. Effective or strong leadership is ultimately about getting the best from employees. Whether achieved through supporting staff in meeting targets, recognising their strengths, or simply creating a happy working environment, it is a crucial part of the overall strength of any organisation. Leadership also has the ability to develop or stifle talent in equal measure, and it is the leaders who are ultimately at fault should they not recognise employee talent.
If you’re working for a CQS-accredited law firm, you must undertake mandatory annual training in order to remain compliant. Current training providers include The Law Society and Socrates. AML training is available through a multitude of providers. Additionally, you may want to speak to your search provider as many offer AML updates, as well as automated AML checks that are compliant with the 2020 Directive. In the conveyancing sector, it’s also important that solicitors have access to accurate information and are able to evaluate which search reports are best for their requirements (different search reports are inconsistent in the risk assessments they provide, and often use different datasets). For drainage and water, for example, there are a lot of benefits to using a Law Societyapproved CON29DW report, to avoid missing out on important data which could affect the homebuyer. Luckily, conveyancers can sign up for training on the right report for different residential and commercial transactions. This is provided by environmental, drainage and water and other search providers.
Underestimate the importance of the individuals and expect to fail. Understand it, and your organisation can become greater than the sum of its individual parts. Looking in from the outside, a well-run company with highly effective and engaged employees appears strong. From strength, further strength emerges; job openings attract a better calibre of candidates, and the reputation of products and services is enhanced. Whilst we may not all work for NASA putting people on the moon, creating the conditions for employees to develop into strong members of teams across an ever-strengthening company, means that we can all reach for the stars; undoubtedly something my colleagues and I at vLex Justis continue to strive to achieve.
Finally, it’s worth mentioning that the legal sector’s CPD requirements have also undergone a significant change in recent years, with the SRA removing the minimum hours requirement for all courses. With the onus now on solicitors to identify their own training requirements, many clients have reported that they find this competency-based approach more difficult to navigate.
“Underestimate the importance of the individuals and expect to fail”
Yet, despite the challenges that the new approach poses, training remains a vital aspect of a conveyancer’s role. Indeed, it is essential if they are to avoid the risk of non-compliance in our rapidly changing industry. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/275842
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and authorised HCEO at High Court Enforcement Group Limited
is Head of Human Resources at tmgroup
Talent development and retention To retain talent, and allow it to thrive, how important is it for a business to provide the education and development required to help its people grow?
Do platforms such as LinkedIn pose a threat to keeping your brightest people, or provide an opportunity to ‘seduce’ talent your way?
There are many factors that go into talent development and retention, but education and development is undoubtedly one of, if not the, most important.
This wholly depends on the culture you create in the company. Quite often a transparent and well-defined organisation will benefit from having a strong social presence, which supports brand awareness for attracting talent. Such an organisation is also likely to have an employee brand and internal identity as part of their retention strategy to keep the best people.
This may cover a whole range of areas – management skills for those people to be moved into a managerial role, soft skills, such as presentation skills, mentoring or time management, as well as technical training.
In terms of LinkedIn and threats, perhaps we should be considering why would an employee, who’s fully engaged, working in a great environment with likeminded colleagues and being remunerated fairly and recognised, look to leave? Identifying gaps across these critical people areas will help refine a business’s people strategy and target interventions for your HR team.
Technical training is particularly important in the legal industry, as that knowledge, backed by experience, is what clients are paying for. High-level technical expertise is also important in those industries associated with the legal sector, such as enforcement. When the new Taking Control of Goods Regulations were introduced in April 2014, one of the requirements was the introduction of compulsory formal qualifications for enforcement agents.
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool to attract talent. By positioning your business in a way that conveys that it’s a great place to work, looks and feels like it’s going to be rewarding, offers career choice, development and this image represents its true culture, then you will be more likely to garner interest and ‘seduce’ talent your way. A business that often communicates socially will naturally have a greater presence than those that do not. A compelling brand identity takes hard work and consistency. Those companies that regularly post blogs and insights will naturally be seen as better communicators, more current and on top of their game, which will inevitably be more attractive to potential new candidates and talent.
As an organisation, we decided to develop an in-house training team, which has since developed several level 2 and level 3 qualifications which are endorsed by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), as well as a number of workshops which are quality marked by Agored Cymru. We set about training all our staff, not just enforcement agents, and also made the qualifications and workshops open to our solicitor and local authority clients, as well as third sector organisations. Certification and regulation have certainly brought about a significant improvement in the raising of standards in the enforcement industry, dispelling many of the negatives that surround enforcement.
Without such a tightly defined and communicated culture, you leave a vacuum which can heighten any problems and contribute to employees flagging themselves as ‘open to opportunities’ on LinkedIn, where they’re more likely to get caught up with recruiters phishing for other companies.
Whilst face-to-face training is such a great way of delivering knowledge, there are time commitment considerations and technology also plays an important part in developing and retaining talent. Platforms such as Moodle allow the delivery of training at a pace that suits the learner with checks and measures for the trainer to assess progress. People learn and take on information in different ways – the more flexible that education and training can be to accommodate different styles, the more effective it will be.
“Those companies that regularly post blogs and insights will naturally be seen as better communicators, more current and on top of their game, which will inevitably be more attractive to potential new candidates and talent”
Career progression also plays a part and several of our team are currently studying to become authorised High Court Enforcement Officers (HCEO), bringing the next generation into the industry. In our experience, the management training, soft skills and mentoring that we do within the business, has a noticeable impact on talent retention, with of rates over 98% over a two-year period.
“Technical training is particularly important in the legal industry, as that knowledge, backed by experience, is what clients are paying for” 35
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Alex Holt Director of Business Development E: Alex.Holt@thecashroom.co.uk T: 07817 420 466
Gregor Angus Senior Business Development Manager E: Gregor.Angus@thecashroom.co.uk T: 07875 598 593 @TheCashroomLtd www.thecashroom.co.uk
is Senior Business Development Manager at The Cashroom Ltd
is CEO at Insight Legal Software
Rising stars and future leaders
Is it ethical to poach?
We have recently started extensive training programmes for our ‘Rising Stars’ and ‘Future Leaders’. The initiative is aimed at identifying key people for the future success of the business, and to start developing them to ensure they are able to perform and thrive when the time comes to step up the ladder.
To assemble the best staff possible, is it ethical to poach top talent from competitors to strengthen your own company while, at the same time, weakening theirs? If I’m honest, no, not really. But that answer masks a more complex reality. High-profile moves occur in all industries where businesses seek competitive advantage, including IT and legal. A business moves to hire someone who can bring talent, knowledge and improve the customer experience.
It made me think about my time in practice as a Solicitor, and the fact that I never came across any such deliberate and detailed planning for the future. Sure, there were appraisals and performance reviews which set goals, and identified areas for improvement, but they were concerned more with performing better in your current role, rather than planning and preparing for future roles, and areas of interest.
The Lower and Middle Employment Ranks People choose where they work and when it’s time to leave. Most want to progress early on in their careers and will pursue outside opportunities if they don’t exist with their current employer. A degree of ‘churn’ is expected as junior executives move ‘across and up,’ gaining industry experience. An employer accepts that they gain as much as they lose in these situations.
I deliberately say key ‘people’ because although you must plan for the future ownership of the business via the next batch of Partners, it is just as crucial that you plan for key staff, and older Partners too. The partnership agreement may provide a set retirement age, but retaining people as Consultants or Ambassadors for the firm beyond that may be crucial for retaining certain longstanding clients who have worked with that person for many years. Equally, Paralegals or Support Staff may have the deepest understanding of certain clients, or may be the ones who are in regular contact with them on an ongoing basis.
The Leadership Team Every CEO wants the best possible team working with them; as that is what really makes the difference. Before tackling the question of talent acquisition, a CEO should consider their own team first. An executive who is happy, wellremunerated and able to develop a role in a business that thrives on its culture is less likely to be attracted by a rival offer. An executive’s contract may also contain restrictions to discourage any move to a competitor.
When developing these key people for the future, it is also crucial to find out what they want and aim for in their working lives. When was the last time you asked your staff what their career aspirations were? There are many reasons to do so – for starters, if you can’t offer what they are aiming for, they will probably leave at some point. Secondly, the future wellbeing of your firm will need people to take care of the different areas of the business – not just the practice of law – so you need to find out if you have people who have an interest in being, for example, ‘Business Development Partner/Manager/Director’, ‘COLP/ COFA’, or ‘Managing Partner’. It is important to find and develop these people over a period of time, and also to think about these role specifications clearly so you are not setting people up for a fall. All too often, particularly the role of Managing Partner, is given to somebody without enough regard for whether they are the best person for the role, what the firm expects of them by way of splitting their time between fee earning and management commitments and, crucially, any sort of plan as to how they would return to a full time fee earning Partner role thereafter.
That said, everyone and every role has a shelf life. Many different circumstances cause someone to seek a new challenge. We recently recruited John Donigan as Director of Sales. His previous role was as a Sales Manager in Ireland, for a business in the same space. Fortunately for us, John was no longer in the employ of his previous company, so the appointment was a case of ‘right time; right person’. When the stars don’t align, LinkedIn or a head-hunter can be used to sound people out ‘under the radar’. My experience of senior level recruitment is that if some discontent pre-exists a conversation can start. Sometimes it pays off to be patient and to wait for the right person. A lot of time and effort is spent selling the vision. Even then, moves can break down at the last minute for many different reasons. At the end of the day, the CEO’s job is to put in place the right people doing the right things right! Like any team, it’s not about assembling the best individual in each role (although it is), but more how people will gel and get the best from one another. The sum of the team should be greater than the parts – just look at Jurgen Klopp for evidence of that.
So, do all the Partners have the same people in mind to take over the reins, and how are you going to equip them with the skills to do so? I would suggest putting a realistic plan together and keep in regular dialogue with the people involved. They will likely be motivated by the opportunity, bringing better engagement immediately, and more seamless business continuity and succession into the future.
“At the end of the day, the CEO’s job is to put in place the right people doing the right things right!” 37
2019 winner Technology innovation of the year - service provider
is Managing Director at Hayes Connor Solicitors
is Managing Director SIFA Professional
Importance of agile working Agile working is a modern practice that should be embraced by law firms used to working within a very traditional framework. The modern client – be that a commercial entity or a private individual – values and expects flexibility to fit with their own busy schedules, and as technology continues to evolve, it is commercially advantageous for firms to meet this need.
In November 2016 the regulator abolished the need for solicitors to undertake a minimum number of hours structured CPD and replaced it with a more enlightened and appropriate approach. The new system anticipates and allows the individual solicitor to design and structure their own learning and development. Last year the SRA announced that, in the main, their research among the solicitor community, suggested that the new regime was popular, because it encouraged the individual to tailor their learning, so it was relevant and beneficial to them in their work with clients. Perhaps under the old regime, firms had provided courses, or sent their employees on courses because they provided a certain number of hours of structured CPD and a nice certificate, rather than because it was appropriate for everyone involved.
Employees are also increasingly empowered and choosing to work for firms offering agile working to support a positive work/life balance. Employers who are not already doing so, should consider offering agile working to ensure that their recruitment process does not exclude strong candidates who may have parental or caring responsibilities, for example. We recognise the importance of agile working and inclusion at Hayes Connor. By offering flexible working, we are able to attract the right people to our team with several working part-time, with some sometimes working remotely – including those in senior posts.
Therefore, the forward-thinking firms today should be encouraging their solicitors to embrace professional development and ensure that the culture within the business offers time and flexibility for this learning. Solicitors encouraged to always be striving to widen their knowledge and their sphere of expertise will not only be happier employees but crucially assets to the firm. The firm might look to introduce, mentoring or buddying systems, officially or unofficially to promote a culture of self-improvement. Attending the same courses or seminars as colleagues or reading the same articles should mean discussion and debate will ensue, hence embedding the knowledge.
We trust our team to deliver and recognise that this does not require our people to be sitting in the office every day. We believe that this modern approach to how, and where, work is delivered both helps the firm to meet evolving client needs, and keep staff motivated and feeling valued, this in turn has a positive impact on performance levels.
At SIFA Professional we have always encouraged our financial planning members, via seminars for solicitor colleagues or via the provision of educational articles or literature to assist them to gain relevant additional knowledge. Having a wider understanding of the financial planning aspects of pensions and divorce or the tax efficiency of some of the available solutions for estate planning for example, can genuinely enhance the professionalism of the solicitor and importantly enable them to ascertain when a referral for financial advice is in their client’s best interests.
Ensuring that agile working still meets business needs is, of course essential, but firms who are not currently facilitating agile working may be hindering business performance as a result. Agile working is being offered by progressive firms as part of their employee benefits package, the key for those who are not currently doing so is to challenge why this is at senior level. Every business is only as strong as its people. By recognising that employees have other commitments outside the office, and building a culture that recognises and encourages flexible working, firms can access a wider pool of talent from which to recruit engaged staff who are more likely to stay in the long run, creating significant cost efficiencies and clients who will ultimately benefit from a higher quality service.
If your company has an old school approach to your staff’s personal and professional development, you might inadvertently be limiting their potential to not only evolve as individuals, but also to spot the opportunity and need to offer a more rounded holistic approach by working with other professionals. Clients are coming to solicitors for solutions or to have problems solved but on so many occasions the solutions will not be solely legal. Encouraging your solicitors to embrace personal development and give them the time and flexibility to do so will make your firm a better one for your clients.
Ultimately, it comes down to trust. Employers who trust their employees to work flexibly are more likely to foster engagement and loyalty.
“We trust our team to deliver and recognise that this does not require our people to be sitting in the office every day”
“The new system anticipates and allows the individual solicitor to design and structure their own learning and development”” 39
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11/27/19 12:10 PM
is Head of Marketing & Customer Engagement at Denovo
is P4W Product Manager at Tikit
People are your future
Bye bye ‘Boomers’…
Does more tech mean our jobs are being taken over by “robots”? Looking to this coming decade, the phenomenon of technology automating manual tasks is only going to accelerate, but there is no need to fear that this is going to result in some sort of dystopian future.
By 2025, the majority of the workforce is set to be made up of people like me, who were born in the 80s and 90s. This generation, known as Millennials, were the first to grow up tech savvy and connected. Their beliefs, priorities and attitudes often differ a lot from Boomers, a generation born 1946-1964, and Generation X, born 1961-1981, who have both previously dominated the labour market. With Boomers now leaving the workforce to retire, the differences between the generations cannot be ignored, if a firm wants to attract new entrants.
Although technology is taking over many aspects of lawyers’ jobs, automated tools are adept at rescuing lawyers from low-level and repetitive tasks, such as document management, contract review, filing, management reporting, and accounting, which bear little connection to law practice but increasingly consume much of lawyers’ time.
These new entrants place a lot of importance on a modern way of working. This is not just through the use of up-to-date technology, but also with their work/life balance, as well as a firm’s involvement in social and environmental issues.
The rise of machine learning and other artificial intelligence technologies means that lawyers can shift their focus from grunt work to the meaningful practice of law. Instead of paper pushing, lawyers can now perform work that clients truly value, i.e. the work of the intellect. In effect, automation is not eliminating jobs, but reallocating time to allow lawyers to engage in the analytical, creative, and strategic parts of legal practice.
Law firms should look to implement new policies that allow employees the option to work flexible hours and encourage wellbeing in the workplace. In addition to this, they could partner with local charities or causes and ensure they are conscious when it comes to the impact they have on the environment, such as Tikit’s #gagtheswag initiative!
There’s so much chatter about automation, workflows, AI, blockchain, Big Data and the prerequisite that tech should almost “do it all” on your behalf – no need to think, it just does. It’s true, legal tech is developed and designed to remove unnecessary manual tasks in the daily working life of a solicitor, that’s not up for debate. However, the only way it is going to do what you need it to do, is for you to educate your people to embrace it and treat it like their best friend. It must become the essential part of how you operate your business.
The promotion of equality and diversity in a firm is also significant to younger generations, and they want firms to show their dedication through involvement in causes. This could, for example, be through DELTAS; an ethical group dedicated to promoting Diversity & Ethics in Legal Technology and Security. Their primary objective is to eliminate barriers within education and training whilst increasing employment opportunities for people from all backgrounds. Firms are able to join this group and support change in the sector.
The future of how tech can help you manage your practice lies in having everything you need in one place. Collaborating with people, experts, who support you 100% of the way as you navigate your way through the process of learning. Taking your firm into the 2020’s digital age is not an option you can deliberate on, it’s a necessity, and this decade is all about making technology work for you.
Firms need to create a working environment that attracts new entrants, this can be accelerated by embracing the latest technology. By using technology as an enabler, it presents to firms the ability to adapt to the needs of the forthcoming labour pool. It allows firms to offer working environments that new entrants deem as an important factor for job satisfaction, such as a good work/life balance.
Ultimately, you need to get to a point where you stop thinking that you need to keep innovating and start thinking more fundamentally. Organisations like Denovo Business Intelligence are doing the innovating. It’s time for you to concentrate on answering two questions; What’s the value you bring as lawyers, as a team, as a business? Can you deliver that value in new ways?
95% of the UK population own a mobile phone meaning that people are easily contactable, and you don’t need to wait until you’re back in the office to communicate with clients. The ability to access work emails on your phone has become the norm. This means that people can easily pick up work emails whilst sat on the train or in the court waiting room etc. Policies will need to be introduced that set out expectations for this modern mobile approach to working.
“The future of how tech can help you manage your practice lies in having everything you need in one place”
“The promotion of equality and diversity in a firm is also significant to younger generations and they want firms to show their dedication through involvement in causes” 41
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is Director at TLA Medicolegal & 3D Health UK
is CEO at LEAP UK
Remote and flexible working is becoming more popular with UK law firms. Technology now makes remote working a realistic option. Studies show that remote working allows employees to be more productive, and having the choice to either work from the office or remotely gives staff a sense of freedom and wellbeing.
Are your employees’ part of your unique position in the industry? Do they give you an edge, do you recognise this and how do you retain these employees? I believe employees are vital to a competitive edge and the integrity of a business. When TLA was in its infancy, a very successful businessman and friend of mine advised me to surround myself with a team that had a selection of expertise, so as a combined entity, with a leader in place, we would be strong and knowledgeable. He also advised me to pick my staff well and understand that attitude is more valuable than experience.
Benefit 1: Widens the net for capturing new talent By implementing mobile technology within your law firm it means that you are not constrained by location. An employee could be on the other side of the world but by logging into an online portal they can join a local workforce as if they were physically sitting in the office.
Employees are necessary to the success of any business that wishes to grow. When you consider this on a rudimentary level, it is quite frightening to business owners or Directors that the outcome of all their hard work and passion could simply be dependent on their employees.
Remote working means that employers can cast their net wider to take advantages of more opportunities to scope for talent around the globe and benefit from a larger pool of talent.
So how do we deal with this as business owners and Directors or Partners? Do we offer great salary packages, benefits and bonuses? Which employees will rise to the challenge and which will fall? The old saying ‘you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink’ is true and constitutes a risk for employers. Some employees, irrespective of how much you pay them, or what you offer in terms of benefits such as gym memberships, flexible working and private health cover, will fall short of your expectations and end up costing your business both capital and income.
Benefit 2: Reduces staff turnover and retains staff UK employers are facing the threat of increasing staff turnover. One way to increase employee happiness and loyalty is by offering remote working opportunities. Your employees will want to work remotely because other people they know will be doing it. If your employees don’t have the option, it is possible that they will look for flexible working opportunities elsewhere. By trusting your employees, they’ll be more likely to pay you back with loyalty, higher productivity and better performance.
At TLA Medicolegal & 3D Health UK, in my experience maximising the employee’s skills and abilities, their happiness and development comes down to a few basic facts, and it has created a strong team for me. A team I am proud of and appreciate. Leadership is essential, and the belief in the integrity of the business. Employees need structure, clearly setting out who is responsible for what. They need targets and to understand where the business is going. Share your vision of the business’ future and always show your appreciation for a job well done. This may just be a simple thank you but rest assured this will make the job more fun and rewarding to do. Employees need opportunity to grow within and have a voice that is heard.
Benefit 3: Enables effortless collaboration through technology Technology has had its limitations in the past and it’s only really now that it enables seamless and efficient online collaboration. With a firm’s matter and client information updated in realtime and accessible from within one central online location, collaborating on matters can be achieved with ease.
When you’re looking for a new team member, an enthusiastic, positive attitude is much more important than job experience. You can teach people how to do the work. You can’t teach attitude.
Legal professionals can converge in a virtual space rather than a physical location and continue working together which may have previously been impractical. Collaboration is easier than it ever was before in secure and safe online environments.
Lastly, stay in touch with your employees, learn about them as individuals and as team members. Learn exactly what role they perform in your business and how important their work is to both them and the business. This enables us to measure and allocate success and reward. It also enables us to understand what may have gone wrong if they decide to move on and how we can prevent losing exceptional employees.
“By trusting your employees, they’ll be more likely to pay you back with loyalty, higher productivity and better performance”
“Share your vision of the business’ future and always show your appreciation for a job well done” 43
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is Commercial Business Development Manager at Stewart Title
is Head of Business Development at Moneypenny
Save time and hassle
Wrapping technology in the personal touch
Most property lawyers are now fully aware of how Title Indemnity Insurance can provide protection for their clients against risks identified when investigating title. What they may not be aware of however, is that a number of Title Indemnity Policies can provide assistance to busy conveyancers faced with particular transactions or workloads.
Although modern law firms understand the importance of harnessing emerging legal-tech in order to innovate, stand-out and compete, it can sometimes feel at odds with maintaining the human element of business – that is unless you wrap technology in the personal touch. Competitive advantage is the holy grail of law firms and technology is integral to achieving that goal. But so too is the need for highly motivated, skilled and empowered employees with the skills to deliver exceptional client care. The formula to give a firm its best competitive advantage combines investing in people with investing in technology.
One such transaction is when a lawyer is acting for the proposed buyer of a property (especially in residential purchases), they will also be acting for the lender. Joint or dual representation is allowed by the UK Finance Mortgage Lenders’ Handbook and hopefully helps to reduce unnecessary delays and costs for the buyer. Most standard Title Indemnity Policies provide cover for the lender as well as the buyer and their successors. Stewart Title (and most other Title Indemnity providers) can also provide “Lender Only” Policies as either bespoke or self-issue policies. This is particularly helpful where the lawyer has identified a risk which the buyer may be comfortable with or is not affected; but the lender requires protection or the lawyer is recommending it.
Helping employees to be the best they can be is an important differentiator, particularly when coupled with a strong workplace culture where employees feel valued and professional development is prioritised. This clear sense of purpose and belonging has an overwhelmingly positive impact on client care and it makes the old adage that happy staff make happy clients certainly true. Exemplary client care relies on understanding and meeting clients’ needs, namely greater efficiency, more transparency about the process and costs and improved communication and accessibility. Technology has a key role to play and one of the best examples of wrapping it in the personal touch is live-chat.
Additionally, the UK Finance Mortgage Lenders’ Handbook or the Lender’s Offer will often specify where cover is required. As Lender Only Polices will normally be limited to the lifetime of the loan, premiums are often more cost effective than that of a standard Buyer and Lender Policy. Obviously in circumstances such as a re-mortgage transaction, the borrower may not require that their lawyer carry out full searches. In this case, a Lender Only No Search Policy can provide speedy and cost-effective cover for the lender.
Clients aren’t constrained by standard office hours, make contact at all times of day and night, often prefer to type not talk and expect instant answers. Live chat helps to make that possible by ensuring on-brand and human interactions regardless of whether someone reaches out at 7am or 9pm. Prospective clients are always met with a knowledgeable and friendly response from a highly trained team – perhaps the live chat operator can answer a FAQ, capture valuable client insight or simply pass a message on. This provides a clear win for both client care and practice growth, as 41% of legal live chats are about new business¹.
Title Indemnity Policies can also save hassle when busy conveyancing teams are acting on a high volume of transactions every month and need the same type of cover for each property. Single policies for each property can, of course, be arranged but it is often better to make use of a Block Insurance Scheme Policy. Block Policies provide cover for properties without the need to arrange a separate policy each time. The insurer will put in place a Block Policy and provide generic policy documents which can be passed to the client. The lawyer simply adds the details of the transaction to a monthly return supplied to the insurer and cover runs from the date of completion. This saves the lawyer valuable time in the conveyancing process whilst still fully protecting the client. In many cases where a lawyer is adding a large number of properties to the Block Policy every month, discounted premiums can be agreed.
Client care is the key to differentiation in the legal sector. Research says that 86% of customers² would pay up to 25% more for better customer service and that it will overtake product and price as a key differentiator this year³. Competitive advantage comes from wrapping technology in the personal touch and that means harnessing emerging technologies and people power in tandem.
“The formula to give a firm its best competitive advantage combines investing in people with investing in technology”
Both Lender Only and Block Policies can save valuable time for a conveyancer (without prejudicing their client) and help make conveyancing more cost effective for the firm.
¹ Moneypenny data ² Temkin Group research as quoted in Forbes: https://www.forbes.com/sites/ danielnewman/2018/04/10/want-better-customer-experience-combine-crm-andcustomer-feedback/#18b68ce43fbb ³ Forbes research: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danielnewman/2018/04/10/wantbetter-customer-experience-combine-crm-and-customer-feedback/#18b68ce43fbb
“Block Policies provide cover for properties without the need to arrange a separate policy each time” 45
Empowering your team to deliver exceptional customer service
Jo Causon Jo Causon, Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service, brings a wealth of experience from the commercial sector, enabling her to put customer service at the heart of the Boardroom agenda. She has extensive experience in the financial services sector having served as a non-executive director to Aegon, UK’s independent governance committee and having spent more than 11 years with organisations such as Aviva. She has also held director roles in brand and business consulting, policy development and research for the likes of City & Guilds and the Chartered Management Institute. Jo discusses people empowerment for excellent customer service;
re you shaping your practice to your client demands, or shaping your client demands to your practice? According to a US study into the legal profession shared late last year, Closing the Gap, the most important factor for clients is responsiveness. Yet the study found that many law firms struggle to respond within 24 hours. Indeed, two thirds of potential clients contacting a law firm never got a response!
…every one per cent increase in employee engagement leads to a 0.4% increase in customer satisfaction.
This chimes with our own research into the factors that hold global firms back from the delivery of exceptional service. Part of the challenge is that in today’s market, organisations need staff with a greater range of skills than ever before. Businesses need staff who have the right blend of communication skills, problem solving aptitude, initiative and commitment.
Client satisfaction is closely linked to employee engagement, every one per cent increase in employee engagement leads to a 0.4% increase in customer satisfaction. Employee engagement is the essential thread linking customer satisfaction, productivity and business performance. We see employee engagement as a psychological and emotional state which is expressed in employee behaviour – the focus, effort, commitment, and motivation that they apply in performing their job. We know that when employees are actively engaged, there is a significant amount of discretional effort, empathy and personal connection. At a time when technology now looks after more of the transactional elements of the client experience, it is essential that every employee at a law firm understands their ability to act as the differentiator when it comes to overall client service. For all the
advances organisations have made to leverage technology to boost utilisation and billable hours, it is a commitment to individual service that makes the real difference in terms of more complex service issues, added value, problem solving and empathy.
focus on employee engagement, customer experience design and effective deployment of technologies.
Our own research, Are You Connected?, takes an in-depth look at recruiting, developing and retaining the skills for customer service excellence, and is based on research carried out amongst representative samples of managers, employees and customers. It finds that all too often the opportunity to instil best practice at the start of an individual’s career with an organisation is missed. Effective on-boarding processes for new employees are regularly squeezed out by the daily pressures on the organisation and from individuals having too much thrust upon them too early. Taking the time to school new recruits in your customer service ethos in the first weeks is key. Once a new lawyer has their feet under the proverbial desk, an appropriate training and development plan is critical. We can’t expect people to be brilliant unless we support and coach them. However, again we find that those at the start of their careers are poorly served. More than half of seniors report they have received at least five days of training and development in the past year, compared to only 24% of juniors. Is your firm doing enough to support staff at every level – and are line managers spending enough time coaching and mentoring the people in their team?
We see employee engagement as a psychological and emotional state which is expressed in employee behaviour – the focus, effort, commitment, and motivation that they apply in performing their job.
Our research reveals sharply differing levels of employee engagement across different types of employee and in different employment contexts. With many firms actively recruiting to improve their gender, age and ethnic diversity, it is increasingly important for organisations to develop a deeper understanding of their employees and tailor engagement activity to suit. A ‘one size fits all’ approach to customer service training is not enough, you must take account of different working styles and cultural backgrounds.
We know that our members - drawn from the UK’s leading organisations recognise the role of customer experience and employee engagement in delivering sustained performance. They acknowledge that customer experience and employee engagement cannot simply be turned on, but needs to be nurtured and developed, taking a professional and systematic approach to employee engagement. In particular, they seek to identify ways of offering genuine career development pathways for people at all levels of the organisation. Empowering employees with the knowledge, tools and confidence to make decisions in the moment that do the right thing for customers, requires a back to basics approach. Organisations need to be really clear about their purpose and relevance and what they’re trying to do. This must come from the top, with senior partners challenged to answer questions such as: • ‘How do you position your firm?’ • ‘Do you lead from the front?’ • ‘Do you talk about the organisation?’ Such discussion should be as common across a law firm’s LinkedIn, and media engagement, as news of commercial success, or discussion of the latest judgements and their implications. Ultimately, those law firms that establish and hold a reputation as engaged employers will thrive - empowering their colleagues to deliver superior client service, and creating a positive feedback loop, that helps attract new recruits that share a commitment to exceptional customer service.
is Chief Executive of the Institute of Customer Service
REFERENCES: https://www.clio.com/resources legal-trends/2019-report/read online/?cta=masthead-primary https://www.instituteofcustomerservice. com/research-insight/research-library/ are-you-connected-recruiting-developingand-retaining-the-skills-for-customer-serviceexcellence
The link between customer and employee engagement needs to be seen not just as a survey or action plan, but as a vital business discipline. This means developing a coherent
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We are only as good as our people
Drawing on over 20 years of experience in the Medico-legal field, Susan Henry speaks to Modern Law about how so much of her operational success has been achieved by truly investing in people.
aving worked in many pivotal roles and with a wealth of valuable industry knowledge, Susan has learned many lessons as a leader, most notably that when striving for excellence it is vital for everybody to work cohesively together, sharing best practices and working towards the same goals. “Maintaining strong relationships internally is crucial to both internal and external successes, as ultimately, people do business with people,” she affirmed. Susan has driven real improvements over the years to processes, service levels and customer satisfaction, always asking ‘What does good look like?’ She promotes and encourages self-improvement, as when your employees learn new skills, it’s better for the company as a whole. According to Susan, “Our employees are our biggest asset and we invest time and resources into their continuous development, ensuring they receive ongoing training and support from their team leaders, line managers and our in-house training department. Recently our valued Managers and Team Leaders within Speed Medical completed an intensive 12-month training course, focusing on different management styles and techniques to motivate and encourage staff. Through our continuous commitment to supporting, leading and managing our people for sustained success, Speed Medical was awarded the Investors in People Gold until 2020, for the second consecutive time - an accolade we’re confident we’ll achieve - if not, surpass again.” Fully supportive of Richard Branson’s employee-first ethos that ‘If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients’, Susan combines this ethos with hard work, a clear mission and commitment. She expands further, “I am truly invested in my teams, and I think that makes me a better leader. I feel that the best leaders treat their staff as upcoming leaders too,
“Not only is driving continuous innovation important to Susan, but also challenging her management teams into thinking about the bigger picture”
“Maintaining strong relationships internally is crucial to both internal and external successes, as ultimately, people do business with people” 49
therefore I operate with an open-door policy yet encourage staff members to work autonomously.” One aspect of service that Susan is clearly passionate about is empowering staff with the latest tools available to them, as the brands continue to lead the way by driving clinical quality, improving efficiencies and embracing the latest technologies. Susan adds, “Whilst we continually explore how technology can further advance our service, I view that as an enhancement to our peoples’ expertise. Not only this, organisations that provide the right technology for their employees can increase their efficiency, reduce frustration and make their tasks more manageable, ultimately increasing employee engagement and delivering a better service to our customers.” Not only is driving continuous innovation important to Susan, but also challenging her management teams into thinking about the bigger picture. “I like to inspire creative thinking, and I constantly encourage our people to challenge the status quo, both as individuals and as a company. There are often challenges and better ways to do things, so I believe in using the minds around you and encouraging employees to share creative ideas and business solutions,” she said. On a final note, Susan reveals it’s vital when investing in people to also invest in praise and recognition. She concludes, “From simple ongoing encouragement such as a thank you email to an appraisal, to attending awards ceremonies and conferences with staff members, and hosting several corporate team building events and parties throughout the year, we endeavour to continuously build up and celebrate our staff, growth, and successes, because ‘we’re only as good as our people’”.
Susan Henry is Operations Director for several industryleading companies within handl Group, including Speed Medical, Foresight and Harrison Associates
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People are priceless – and tech without people is worthless
Our resident Tech columnist Charles Christian writes…
o hear some industry gurus talk, you might be under the impression law firms that don’t invest in the latest bleeding edge technologies are facing extinction. This is twaddle. The law and lawyering are, and always has been, about people problems – and you need people to help solve them. Clearly the people involvement varies from private client matters, which tend to be more hand-holdy, touchy-feely, to commercial work, which can be highly homogenised and systemised. With both types of work you also need computers if you are to have any hope of delivering services on a cost effective and profitable basis, but that doesn’t mean the people element is in any danger of becoming redundant.
“The thing about tech is it’s a tool: an enabling device or solution, because technology in isolation has no intrinsic value”
It’s the same with law office automation. Nobody wanted to buy wordprocessors when they first appeared in the late 1970s, but they did want to buy a solution to the problem of secretaries spending forever typing out long documents, only to have to scrap pages and start all over again when a mistake was spotted or a section needed amending. (It was that or liberally applying dollops of Snopake!)
Unfortunately, in an increasingly technologyoriented economy, where vendors are constantly driven to create new products, enhancements and upgrades to keep fresh revenues flowing in and keep their shareholders happy, the emphasis has shifted so customers – including most law firms – are now being encouraged to buy products rather than solutions. It is very easy to be swept along by all this marketing spin – you only have to look at the hype surrounding AI/artificial intelligence in 2019 – where the focus is inevitably on features NOT benefits. Ooh look, all shiny, shiny new technology. Fine, but what benefits is it going to bring your firm?
The thing about tech is it’s a tool: an enabling device or solution, because technology in isolation has no intrinsic value. It’s not the ownership of IT that is important but what you do with it that counts. In the world of D-I-Y, the electric drill manufacturer Black & Decker spotted this many years ago when they switched their marketing emphasis from selling drills to selling holes. People, they realised, didn’t want one-quarter inch drills, they wanted to create one-quarter inch (or whatever) holes as part of a D-I-Y project.
The key was the solution on offer not only met with customer expectations but was also as closely aligned as possible with the results and benefits the customers were seeking – nothing more, nothing less.
is a writer, barrister, journalist and radio show host who has been covering legal technology since the time computers came with 8-inch floppy disks. He is not a guru and takes a childish delight in pointing out most “disruptive technologies” are just emperor’s new clothes. You can find him on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @ChristianUncut
If there are no tangible new benefits and it ain’t broke, then it doesn’t need fixing or replacing. IT is just a tool – it’s the people who are the oil that keep the wheels of a law firm turning. They really are priceless, without them, you have nothing. Just look at all the technologically proficient firms that have collapsed in recent years after major splits and defections by partners and fee-earners. One final thought: George R.R. Martin, the man whose A Song of Ice and Fire novels provided the basis for TV series A Game of Thrones, still writes all his books on an old DOS computer running WordStar 4.0. This is a wordprocessing application that was pretty much dead in the market by the late 1980s, but nobody suggests Martin would write better books if he were running Word 16 on Windows 10. That’s because creative writing – like lawyering – is a people skill that cannot be replaced by technology.
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BOOK REVIEW: Online Courts & The Future of Justice – By Richard Susskind – More Marmite?
Our resident Tech columnist Charles Christian reviews Professor Richard Susskind’s latest book…
he difficulty of writing a review of any Richard Susskind book is you know you are dealing with a Marmite man people either love or hate. Half your audience are inwardly groaning, “Oh no, he’s not still banging on about the same subject he’s been going on about since The Future of Law in 1996?” Oh yes he is. While the other half – the Susskindistas – regard him as a guru of almost mythical proportions and would rush to attend one of his lectures even if he was just reading the contents of a telephone directory. My issue with Susskind – and it is one I have consistently held for the best part of a quarter century – is that while his books are full of well-meaning hopes and aspirations – Susskind is the ultimate “conversation starter” to borrow a tag from Facebook – there is a disconnect between them and the real world the rest of us live in. Quite simply, the problem with the justice system (in probably every country on the planet) is money. It is starved of cash so we don’t have enough courts, we don’t have enough judges, and we don’t have enough money to fund a decent legal aid system so citizens can afford to access the justice system. Of course we could have more money if we paid more taxes – but no politician is ever going to run for election on a platform of “More Taxes, For More Judges”. People have priorities and for most people “law” is a distress purchase you only buy in an emergency – and that you also sincerely hope you will never actually need. Indeed, with the exception of conveyancing charges, a lot of people actually do manage to get through life without ever having to cross a solicitor’s doorstep or enter a court. What people can’t do without are health services, education, and public transport, and if they are going to pay more in taxes
then they’d rather the money went on doctors, schools and trains that ran on time. This brings us to the first big flaw in Susskind’s book – which puts forward a well-argued case for how technology and online courts might deliver a better and more accessible justice system – is that if there is not enough money to keep the conventional courts system going (legal aid and all that), then where is all the money to come from to fund this new futuristic infrastructure? In the real world there are no magic money trees. It is also worth pointing out that, in England and Wales at least, the Ministry of Justice has one of the worst track records of any government department when it comes to failed technology projects, in terms of them being delivered late, over budget or not at all. As someone who has held the post of Technology Adviser to the Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales for over twenty years, this is something he must be aware of. My concern is that if a government ever did green-light a massive online courts initiative, the MoJ would make a total mess of it – and in the process, waste yet more taxpayers’ money that could have been used to throw the creaking legal aid system a life raft. Turning to the technologies cited in the book, all the usual suspects are cited but without addressing the fact that most of them are imperfect – or at least not something you would want to base a justice system around. For example, eBay’s online dispute resolution system is cited as one approach. But the eBay system is Stalinist in that it penalises the honest, who have no choice if they want to remain users of eBay, but is ineffectual against the dishonest, who simply vanish into cyberspace only to pop up later with a fresh fake identity.
As for AI/artificial intelligence (or at least machine learning because we do not have true AI yet), this is already proving to be a civil liberties nightmare. For example, just check out the experience of the US state of Kentucky, which in 2011 mandated a risk assessment algorithm to help determine whether suspects awaiting trial should be remanded in custody or granted bail. Following the introduction of the system there was a big jump in the number of white people being granted bail but virtually no change for black people. So is automated justice colour-biased? Well if the experience of trials with facial recognition technology is anything to go by, the answer is yes as they consistently misidentify women and people of colour. And before you say, “well that’s just the crazy Americans for you”, here in the UK the Metropolitan Police are championing the use of facial recognition tech that is “70% accurate” – although critics say the figure is far lower. And, just ten days before I wrote this review, a leaked document revealed the European Commission is considering banning all facial recognition technology in public places for up to five years. Technology undoubtedly has a role to play in delivering a better justice system but ultimately it must serve not infringe the rights of citizens – and we are already dancing a fine line in the modern world between a technologically-enhanced society and a Black Mirror-like dystopian future. By all means read this book but Baroness Hale, the retiring President of the Supreme Court, pinpointed the real problem with the justice system in a recent interview when she said it was government spending cuts, including slashing legal aid budgets, that have caused “serious difficulty”. Forget investing megabudgets on futuristic technology, just putting some money into the legal system will improve the justice system.
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MODERN LAW AWARDS 2020 Here at Modern Law, we know how to entertain, and we’ve proved it… seven times! It was a brilliant night at the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards 2020, held on 6th February at the wonderful Victoria Warehouse in Manchester. Everyone was dressed to impress and ready to celebrate - let’s see how the night went… The 7th annual Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards got off to a lively start, and it was champagne all round! The scene was set for an exciting and fun evening, all focused around recognising the achievements and successes of some of the strongest performers of the profession.
of Durham Law School and Chair in Law & Government! Thom Brooks spoke of what an exciting time it is to become a lawyer, with the continual development of technology and the ever-increasing diversity of the industry. He stated; “These awards celebrate the very best in our wider industry. It is an opportunity to reflect and recognise great achievements at all levels – and to honour the many inspiring talents both early career and beyond that make working in law a part of something very special”.
Modern Law’s very own Kate McKittrick and Martin Smith welcomed the guests with a speech, and had the pleasure of introducing to the stage Chair Judge, Professor Thom Brooks FAcSS FHEA FRHisS FRSA, Dean
“It is an opportunity to reflect and recognise great achievements at all levels – and to honour the many inspiring talents both early career and beyond that make working in law a part of something very special” Professor Thom Brooks, Chair Judge 55
A massive thank you must go to our judging panel, upon whom we had bestowed the challenge of reviewing this year’s incredible nominations. We are forever grateful for the dedication of their invaluable time and effort to this difficult task. Led by Chair of the judging panel Professor Thom Brooks FAcSS FHEA FRHisS FRSA, Dean of Durham Law School & Chair in Law & Government, he was graciously assisted by Vice-Chair Sue McLean, Partner at Baker McKenzie. They were supported by their judging panel, comprising of Mary Collins, Director of CostsMaster; Janvi Patel, Chairwoman/Founder of Halebury; Michael Napier CBE QC (Hon); John Hyde, Reporter for The Law Society Gazette; Shawnna Hoffman, Global Cognitive Legal Co-Leader at IBM; Simon Davis, Vice President of The Law Society; Adrian Jewitt, Independent Legal Marketing Expert; Tony Fisher, Senior Partner at Fisher Jones Greenwood; Sarah Walker-Smith, Chief Executive of Shakespeare Martineau LLP; Abby Ewen, IT Director at BLM LLP; Chris Bull, Executive Director of Kingsmead Square; Matt Meyer, Chief Executive Officer at Taylor Vinters; and Professor Joan Loughrey, Deputy Head of the School of Law, Leeds.
And the winners are…
There is a full list of winners – and those highly commended – on Pages 55-57, but first, an extra special mention must be made of two incredibly worthy winners. Awarded at the discretion of the Judges, these were: - The Outstanding Achievement of the Year Award to Des Collins, of Collins Solicitors. In recognition of his unwavering commitment to fighting for answers, and sole focus on the victims. - And the Lifetime Achievement Award to The Rt Hon, The Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE, for her inspiring, groundbreaking, cutting-edge and supportive work; engaging with all parts of the profession and inspiring girls and boys to study law, succeed, join the Bar, and play a transformative role in moving our profession forward and for the better.
The host with the most…
After a glamorous champagne reception – courtesy of Conscious Solutions – the guests drifted into the main room, warmed with sparkling chandeliers and intricate centrepieces, for a delicious three-course dinner. Our host for the evening was the multi-talented, multi-voiced impressionist, Jon Culshaw. He captured the room instantly with his hilarious, on-the-spot impressions. It was a sight to behold; a room full of the industry’s top professionals doubled over in laughter. Jon maintained the atmosphere for the rest of the ceremony, blending comedy and warmth as he announced each award. The remainder of the evening was just as lively; guests were treated to Pan & Ice and snacks – courtesy of Foresight Ltd – they revelled in amazement at the pickpocket magician, Matt Windsor, and posed for a picture at the photobooth. The final hours of the night were spent on the dancefloor, while the band took to the stage.
On behalf of the entire Modern Law team; thank you to everyone who took time to enter, made the shortlist, and were highly commended or winners. We’re already looking forward to the Modern Law Awards 2021! Keep your eyes open for nomination and ticket information – it’s sure to be just as incredible a night.
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ABS of the Year Sponsored by Eclipse Proclaim HIGHLY COMMENDED: BW Legal Services Limited & ESP Law Ltd WINNER: Nottingham Law School Legal Advice Centre Soundbite: “We are entirely committed both to the community, and to training and inspiring the lawyers of the future. So that’s what we aim to do.”
Boutique Law Firm of the Year (1-10 Employees) Sponsored by SSB Compliance Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: The Law Boutique WINNER: Manders Law Soundbite: “We’ve worked very hard and I think it’s really nice to be recognised because I don’t think Boutique law firms - or boutique companies - get enough recognition in today’s market. It’s lovely to have that after all the hard work we’ve put in!”
Law Firm of the Year Sponsored by SmartSearch HIGHLY COMMENDED: Hudgell Solicitors WINNER: Birketts LLP Soundbite: “We’re so proud to have won the award! We are up against amazing competition, some great law firms. We’ve had a lovely evening and it’s great to have this prestigious award. Thank you for having us!”
Boutique Law Firm of the Year (11+ Employees) Sponsored by VFS Legal Limited HIGHLY COMMENDED: Stuart Miller Solicitors Limited WINNER: Family Law and Mediation Limited Soundbite: “We started the practice 7 years ago and it has been a journey; we’ve been successful because I have a fantastic team of lawyers. I’m really grateful to the Eclipse Proclaim Modern Law Awards as it’s opportunities like this which allow us, as a team, to think about what we have achieved over the last 7 years. Fantastic evening, thank you very much.”
Managing Partner of the Year Sponsored by Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ayesha Nayyar – Nayyars Solicitors WINNER: James Thornton ClientEarth
Lawyer of the Year Sponsored by Perfect Portal HIGHLY COMMENDED: Georgia Holmes – Barcan+Kirby LLP WINNER: Charlotte Clode – FBC Manby Bowdler LLP
Chambers of the Year Sponsored by Bar Squared HIGHLY COMMENDED: Hardwicke WINNER: Exchange Chambers Soundbite: “We’re really grateful and and this is for all of the staff that we have in chambers, all 230 of them. We’ve got a great team who work very hard, so this award is for each and every one of them.”
Team of the Year
Chambers of the Year
Innovation of the Year
Outstanding Commitment to Training
Barrister of the Year
Paralegal of the Year
Sponsored by Infolegal Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: Sally Penni – Kenworthys Chambers WINNER: Nabila Mallick – No5 Chambers Soundbite: “This means a lot to me; it’s been 100 years since women came to the bar. I was the first Muslim woman in my chancery area, 25 years ago. I’ve worked really hard and I love this profession. I love all the people who’ve supported me. I’ve been really lucky; I’ve found a family at the bar.”
Sponsored by F-lex Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: Machaela O’Brien – Coodes Solicitors & Nicholas Ash – Will & Probate Services (Estate Planning) Ltd WINNER: Callum Scott – Nottingham Law School Legal Advice Centre
Team of the Year Sponsored by New Eden Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: OakNorth WINNER: Instalaw Solicitors Soundbite: “We’re a very niche, specialist department that only started 18 months ago. And we’ve grown exponentially to a position where we’ve been awarded this today! We’re all very excited and pleased for the entire team, who have contributed towards where we are at the moment.”
Rising Star of the Year Sponsored by Landmark Information HIGHLY COMMENDED: Markella Papadouli – The AIRE Centre WINNER: Kayleigh Leonie Macfarlanes
Innovation of the Year Sponsored by The Cash Room HIGHLY COMMENDED: Chambers365 by Clerksroom WINNER: Escalate Law Soundbite: “We’re very, very proud. It’s an incredible achievement, we were up against some really stiff competition and… we won. So: proud, happy. excited. We’re going to enjoy our evening tonight.”
Marketing & Communication Strategy of the Year Sponsored by Cook Legal Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: Countrywide Legacy WINNER: Morton Fraser
Client Care Initiative of the Year Sponsored by poweredbypie Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: Stuart Miller Solicitors Limited WINNER: Farewill
Outstanding Commitment to Training Sponsored by SIFA Professional HIGHLY COMMENDED: Bidwell Henderson Costs Consultants Ltd & My Home Move WINNER: Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) Soundbite: “It’s a big achievement for the team; we’ve had a busy two years, a busy last 2019. We’ve worked super hard to achieve this. So just really happy! It’s our first award show so I’m really glad we won it.”
Business Growth Award
Diversity & Inclusion Award
Combatting Fraud Award
Supporting the Industry (1-25 Employees)
Best Use of Technology
Combatting Fraud Award
Sponsored by Denovo Whole Practice Management Software HIGHLY COMMENDED: Settify & the International Family Law Group LLP WINNER: Chambers365 by Clerksroom Soundbite: “It means a tremendous amount to us. To have created our own management-based software for all the people, all of the staff, and all of the barristers who can now access and get directly through to the Clerks and the diary system. It’s really wonderful.”
Sponsored by Price Bailey LLP HIGHLY COMMENDED: SmartSearch WINNER: Shieldpay Ltd Soundbite: “This award is huge validation for us. Last year, two of us arrive and got innovation of the year, and a runner up in this award – the one we really coveted was this award. Today, we got it, and it is what we try to do: avoid fraud and eliminate payment fraud. It’s what we continue to do, and we’ve gotten an award of recognition for it. Thank you, and what a wonderful event.”
Business Growth Award Sponsored by Insight Legal Software Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: Escalate Law WINNER: Legl
Diversity & Inclusion Award Sponsored by Pracctice Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: Osborne Clarke WINNER: MSB Solicitors Soundbite: “Equality and diversity is such an important thing here at MSB, so we’re absolutely delighted to win this award in such an important year.”
Supporting the Industry (1-25 Employees) Sponsored by CRM Insurance Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: Obelisk Support WINNER: LawNet Ltd Soundbite: “Brilliant! It means a great deal to us as a company. We’ve worked really hard to provide innovative, topical learning solutions for our members. We’re so pleased it has been recognised in this way.”
Supporting the Industry (26+ Employees) Sponsored by Yoti Ltd HIGHLY COMMENDED: poweredbypie & Shieldpay Ltd WINNER: Geodesys Soundbite: “We’re really pleased to win this. We’ve tried to innovate and we’ve tried to do a good job for our customers. And that has been vindicated tonight because we brought out a new unique product to the marketplace and no one else is doing it. It’s great for the team as we’ve been really dedicated, they’ve gone out of their way to do something different, and look at things from new angles – it’s fantastic we’ve won.”
Outstanding Achievement Award Sponsored by CostsMaster WINNER: Des Collins, Collins Solicitors
Lifetime Achievement Award Sponsored by Frenkel Topping Limited WINNER: The Rt Hon, The Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE
A word for our sponsorsâ€¦ Massive thanks go out to our sponsors; the firms who so generously sponsored the awards to create such an incredible evening. These include: Conscious Solutions (Champagne Reception); StewartTitle (Table Plan, Menu, and Wine); DPS Software (Programme); TM Group Ltd (Ticket); The CS Partnership (Media Board); and Foresight (Entertainment). Kindly sponsoring each award category were: Eclipse Proclaim, SmartSearch, SSB Compliance, VFS Legal Limited, Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), Perfect Portal, Bar Squared, Infolegal Ltd, New Eden Ltd, F-Lex Ltd, Landmark Information Group, The Cash Room, Cook Legal Ltd, poweredbypie Ltd, SIFA Professional, Denovo Business Intelligence, Insight Legal Software Ltd, Price Bailey LLP, Pracctice Ltd, CRM Insurance Ltd, Yoti Ltd, CostsMaster, and Frenkel Topping Limited. A final thanks must go to our Headline Sponsor, Eclipse Proclaim.
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The Pe B De rso ig ba na te l In jur y
There’s nothing more stimulating than a discussion forum – and although Modern Law run a series of ‘in the flesh’ Roundtable Roadshow events up and down the country – we also host regular Forum discussions within the pages of the magazine. These give readers access to different expert opinions, experiences and insights into the topic being discussed.
Rick Gregory is Associate Director, Sales, at VFS Legal Funding Ltd Rick has 25 years of experience at Senior Management and Director level in FCA regulated insurance intermediaries and law firms. Having built several large legal panels over his career, Rick joined VFS Legal in July 2019 using his extensive industry contacts to lead the company’s regional solicitor and partnership growth.
Nik Ellis is Managing Director at Laird Assessors Ltd Nik founded Laird in 2000 and has been instrumental in its development and evolution into todays’ company. HIs keen interest in technology has enabled Laird to transform into a company pushing boundaries within the industry. He loves the power of collaborative technology, with many solutions released over the last year that have empowered Laird’s partner clients to provide a better user experience, in turn for their customers.
In this Forum, seven expert voices give their opinions on a selection of questions centred around access to justice, personal injury and the reforms.
Mark Holt is Managing Director at Frenkel Topping
We may not always agree with what we read, but if it enables us to explore and engage in onward discussion with our colleagues and clients, then mission accomplished.
Having completed a degree in mathematics and accounting, Mark has worked in the financial services industry since 1996. His strong interest in mathematics has had a positive impact for his role with Frenkel Topping where, having joined the team in 2010, he has been promoted through the ranks to his current position of Group Commercial Director and Managing Director for both Frenkel Topping Limited and Obiter Wealth Management.
So, meet our Forum experts and join the discussion over the following pages.
Michael Lewis is CEO at Claim Technology Over 20+ years, I’ve learnt from observing how colleagues at Goldman Sachs and IBM both thought and behaved. I’ve gained greater insight from working inside smaller, more challenged companies. My day-job has included CEO, CIO and COO roles but my life’s work has been exploring how we reevaluate our belief in how companies ought to work and start thinking “upside down” instead. I’m a keen reader and traveller, and happiest spending time with my partner Kat.
Forum Experts continued Donna Scully is a Director at Carpenters Group Donna is a Director at Carpenters Group, having worked for various law firms in London before joining in 1997 and setting up its specialist Personal Injury department. She was Chair of MASS from 2010-12. During her term, she was closely involved in the formation of AskCUE PI and the implementation of the LASPO legislation. Donna has held a seat on the Insurance Times’ Fraud Charter since its launch in 2010, is a member of the editorial board for Modern Insurance Magazine and she received the Outstanding Achievement award at the 2014 Personal Injury Awards. In 2016 and 2018, Insurance Business UK named her as one of the insurance industry’s Women of Influence. In September 2018, Donna jointly won the Insurance Post Social Media Influencer Award.
Richard Forth is Managing Director at Forths
Rich Dibbins is Head of Sales
Forensic Accountants The Managing Director of Forths Forensic Accountants, a specialist accountancy practice servicing the requirements of the wider legal and insurance industry across the length and breadth of the UK and various oversees jurisdictions. Following chartered accountancy training Richard specialised as a Forensic Accountant in national accountancy practices. He founded Forths in 2002 which has since grown into one of the UK’s leading independent forensic practices. His prime responsibility is the strategic development of the business.
& Digital Strategy Consultant at Conscious Solutions Rich joined Conscious Solutions in 2012 and ahs worked with hundreds of law firms on their digital marketing strategies, including website design, email marketing, lead conversion, social media, SEO, PPC, CRM and BDM. An expert on social media, digital marketing and business development. Rich communicated in a way people can understand and help to increase their marketing presence.
Q FOLLOWING THE REFORMS, WILL INJURED PEOPLE ACTING FOR
THEMSELVES FIND IT HARDER TO RECOVER DAMAGES – FURTHER TO THAT, WILL THE DAMAGES THEY RECEIVE JUSTIFY THEIR EFFORTS? RICHARD FORTH
In the new regime, unrepresented claimants will inevitably, for the most part, be faced with an imbalance in that they will not have the same knowledge of the process (and indeed what is and not claimable) as the handlers that they will encounter at insurance companies.
In this free-for-all market, injured people, in the immediate aftermath of what may have been a highly traumatic experience, will be left to swim amongst the sharks. Unable to secure independent, professional legal representation, most motor accident claimants will be channelled into the false choice of stumbling through a complex process in pursuit of their own claim, but perhaps the majority will be at the mercy of a range of claims farmers.
This in itself could very easily create a situation where it is more difficult for them to recover the appropriate level of damages, and given the reducing level of general damages, it is easy to see how they could question whether the process is worth their while.
Given the current state of unreadiness of the new process, those with claims which make the smallest deviation from the simplest claims path, will fall into a confusing legal-insurance world where they face further risks of being denied justice or being taken advantage of. They will struggle through a system that looks to favour the defendant for a compensatory claim that will have been dramatically reduced to only a small fraction of what the judicial system currently says they are due.
That said, if individuals have suffered significant legitimate special damages, then they will presumably still want to claim these in order to provide them with restitution for losses suffered. I believe that one of the big tests of the reforms will be how the insurance industry seeks to manage this knowledge gap in a fair way to both achieve their objective of only paying compensation that is due, but also to avoid the perception that they are manipulating the knowledge gap to their financial benefit as this would create significant negative publicity.
Q HOW CAN ALL MAJOR STAKEHOLDERS IN THE CLAIMS PROCESS WORK MORE COLLABORATIVELY IN THE FUTURE, AND WHAT LESSONS HAVE WE LEARNT FROM THE RECENT PAST? RICK GREGORY
There has been a lack of collaboration by major stakeholders in the new claims process. Ministers remain committed to whiplash reform but are considering whether the new portal can actually go live on 6 April.
Whilst historically there has arguably been an intent by stakeholders to collaborate in the various aspects of the claims process, I believe that vested financial interests have curtailed it’s potential.
All parties are currently in the dark as to the new processes, rules and protocol for the portal. It’s a short timescale for the Civil Procedure Rule Committee to sign off the rules, or statutory instruments to be laid before Parliament. Claimants and defendants, effectively, must start again, and the lack of information and the potential chaos that may entail may encourage more collaboration.
In my view, the post reforms environment creates an ideal springboard for practical aspects of collaboration across the whole of the process, and arguably this is something that has to happen, rather than it simply being a good idea, to reduce friction on both sides of the fence and allow for a much smoother process. The adoption of suitable work practices which are smoother, and which lead to reasonable settlement figures, will reduce frictional costs and ultimately lead to a better client journey.
It’s a classic example of major stakeholders in the claims process not working collaboratively and it seems like we have not learnt lessons from the recent past. As funders, the collaboration between ATE providers, service providers, defendants and costs companies is essential. This collaboration enables us to ensure the funding process is fluid improving the experience for all parties.
The ultimate effectiveness of collaborative tools will ultimately be dependent on buy-in at an operational level and a willingness to move from traditional working methods.
Q HOW CAN FIRMS PROVIDE
Q WHAT CAN SERVICE
GREATER INFORMATION, CLARITY AND MANAGE CONSUMER EXPECTATIONS IN ORDER TO MARKET THEMSELVES BETTER IN THE FUTURE?
PROVIDERS DO TO BEST SUPPORT LAW FIRMS MOVING FORWARD? AND HOW CAN SERVICE PROVIDERS MODERNISE THE CLAIMS PROCESS?
Stop using legal jargon; when a client is in a stressed situation the last thing they need to do is Google the terminology used. The general public don’t know the difference between a clinical negligence lawyer and an RTA lawyer. All they hear is “lawyer”.
The question answers itself! Only by leveraging service providers who support modernising the claims process will law firms be able to move forward in the insurance space. For many, the first step will be automating the process for entering small claims on the MIB portal.
Firms need to review how a client engages with them and understand where they need to make improvements. Most firms will cherry pick the best reviews, but the real substance is in the clients who leave negative feedback. Most firms will ignore and do nothing. The modern firms that embrace and understand where their challenges are, adapt and are always looking to improve their client’s expectations. Nobody likes to change, but then again, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity (Albert Einstein).
Using a smart platform like Claim Technology to be ‘reforms-ready’ by April 6th allows this step to be the beginning of a phased approach to digital transformation in an industry that badly needs change. According to your own business strategy, your firm can streamline other repetitive or manual tasks, and alleviate the strain of low-paid, low value work. At this point, fee earners can get back to where they provide added value, providing advice and support for clients where it’s truly needed.
Q WHAT ROLE WILL TECHNOLOGY HAVE IN AFFECTING ACCESS TO JUSTICE? RICK GREGORY The uncertainty centred around the new portal technology will have a significant effect in providing access to justice. The lack of information and rules has lawyers trying to prepare for the go-live date with a lot still to be decided. Any changes to the draft rules will mean changes to the portal causing confusion and delays. If the technology has any shortcomings or failings it will cause havoc. The small claim courts must be prepared to embrace these changes by implementing technology. They must avoid backlogs and delays we have seen with other small claims preventing quick access to justice to people to get compensation quickly and fairly.
MICHAEL LEWIS Once the reforms go live, any claims under 5k will need to go through the small claims portal, a process that the MIB have said will take no less than 40 minutes per claim. This is resource-intensive for law firms, especially with the new lowered limit for all personal injury claims. Law firms and insurers will need to turn to an automated solution that can carry this load in a sustainable way. Without this technology in place, law firms and insurers may need to exit the market, leaving Litigants in Person to handle Personal Injury claims on their own.
Managing the portal is a complex process to begin with and will be exacerbated by the fact that those with a PI claim are recovering from an accident or injury. This will certainly have a negative effect on a claimant’s access to justice, unless technology fills the gap.
Q HOW IMPORTANT WILL BRAND BE FOR PI FIRMS MOVING FORWARD AND HOW BEST DO LAW FIRMS EMBRACE THE DIFFERENT BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AVENUES AVAILABLE? RICH DIBBINS Brand and business development go hand in hand. A law firms’ brand is not their logo or how pretty their website looks. It is the perception given to their clients, and this is done through the people who are in your firm. How your employees represent your firm and engage with your clients is crucial. From first impressions through to empathy for their matter and then the final stages. Clients need to be educated and walked through their matter. Yes, this takes time, but it pays dividends in the long run and the end result will always be a positive one. The gap between small and big firms is getting bigger, the smaller firms need to compete on their delivery of service as well as price. Simple BD (Business Development) skills will be essential to ensure future business is not just walking out the door.
Q WILL TECHNOLOGY BE DETRIMENTAL TO THE HUMAN ELEMENT INVOLVED IN THE EXPERT WITNESS ASPECT OF A CLAIM? MARK HOLT It’s overly simplistic to discuss technology and human input as opposing forces in the expert witness process. Instead, we’ve built Frenkel Topping’s Expert Witness service on the basis that the two elements work together in a symbiotic way, complementing each other to deliver the very best outcomes. While technological capability plays a key part in our growth strategy, we’re uncompromising on our human-first approach It would be folly to ignore the impact of technology in the personal injury arena – it can bring speed and efficiencies, improve accuracy and, importantly, aid communication – a crucial factor when keeping parties informed and updated throughout the awards process. Without doubt, artificial intelligence is making strides in the sector. But technological advancements shouldn’t be to the detriment of the ‘human touch’. Thirty years’ experience working with clients with personal injury, serious injury and clinical negligence damages has given us a privileged insight into thousands of highly complex and life-changing assessments. It’s always front of mind that our end goal is achieving the very best quality of life for individuals who have experienced life-altering events. Delivering those outcomes requires trust, emotional intelligence, compassion and empathy – traits that can’t be replicated by technology. Our focus is on using technology to streamline process, freeing up time for our team to dedicate to quality, human-to-human interaction. We all understand the importance of collaboration in the personal injury arena. I believe that extends to how we harness technology to complement the work of our consultants in some of the most sensitive and emotionally taxing cases across the country. Ultimately, that means humans controlling the technology, not the other way around.
Q WHAT ACTIONS CAN
Q HOW SIGNIFICANT IS COLLABORATIVE
THE INDUSTRY TAKE TO TECHNOLOGY FOR EXPERT WITNESSES? COLLABORATE AGAINST FRAUD, AND POST THE NIK ELLIS ‘CIVIL LIABILITY BILL’, AND Have you sat in a car built in the last twelve months? A world of difference from cars built at the turn of the last decade. Not only has steel been replaced with HOW MIGHT FRAUDULENT plastics, carbon fibre, ceramic, aluminium, ultra-high strength steels, but they now have a raft on incredible technology. From IoT connected infotainment CASES AFFECT THE systems to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and the sensors and that control them. Then there’s hybrid, electric and hydrogen engines PERSONAL INJURY SECTOR computers to consider. Not horseless carriages anymore. IN THE FUTURE? An exponential advancement in automotive technology and materials which presents DONNA SCULLY Better collaboration across the sector is not a nice-to-have, but a must if we are to combat the evolving threat of fraud. There will always be testing times when seeking to work together in partnership, but in the end, we will have a new claims system and a whole host of both new and amplified challenges that we must all deal with. It will be so much better if we face these together. With more CMCs, fewer lawyers, more cross-ownership and joint ventures, the sector is going to look and behave very differently in the future anyway and the old divisions might well be more difficult to spot. The future scale of fraud remains unknown, but it will certainly remain a major challenge and is likely to get worse. Frictionless claims made digitally and with fewer human checks will pose a major challenge. Cyber fraud is likely to increase as the new portal’s weaknesses are exploited and gaps are identified in the regulatory structure. Caused by undue political haste and a lack of forethought in its conception by politicians, these issues will only be solved by the claims sector working together.
challenges to an expert witness dealing with vehicles. So, we need data and lots of it to enable us to understand how these contemporaneous vehicles work, crash and repair safely and within manufacturers specifications. Data is available from manufacturers, estimating and valuation systems, the DVLA, HPI and numerous other sources. We also have data from our clients, and their clients, plus we need to share salient details with other parties like fraud prevention databases, accounting, management and marketing software.
To be efficient, it is imperative that all these systems talk correctly to each other and certain data triggers certain events. For example, if the estimating system concludes a repair price in excess of the valuation system then the vehicle should be considered a total loss. In turn this triggers the salvage matrix valuation, MIAFTR logging, salvage disposal etc. If these individual operations were attempted manually with data being re-entered dual or multiple times, then the time taken would increase costs considerably. However, with collaborative technology and API protocols, not only does data find itself in the correct places but with automation it moves on through the following stages without much human intervention. We could run most of these systems without any human involvement but, in reality, some cases are too bespoke to be worth coding. We also need that human element in certain departments such as business relationships or quality control because, ultimately, we’re here to solve people’s problems; we just use tech to make that experience fast, efficient, accurate and available 24/7. The side effects give us loads of useful data, better client and driver experiences, reduced key-to-key times, insurer’s reduce costs, everyone has a transparent view of cases plus the directors get some pretty graphs. So collaborative technology has been vital to bring expert witnesses and the multitude of companies involved into the 20’s. Exciting times.
Do you have an idea for a Forum discussion? Please get in touch with the Modern Law Team if you’re interested in contributing to future Forum discussions - or why not suggest a topic for a future Forum! Contact Pete Ward at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information. 69
10 MINS WITH
NABILA MALLICK Q A
Has the industry changed drastically since you started working in it?
I commenced practicing in January 1998, when people were using large landlines to communicate, I had a little flip-open ‘Motorola’ phone and the internet worked on dial up. I would send typed up hard copies via fax to my instructing solicitor, and my brief would be hand-delivered by my solicitor on their way home. I spent hours in the library researching and photocopying, which meant that I would need days in preparation for a case raising new points of law. Technology has drastically changed communication; I now use my smart phone for instantaneous communication, photographing documents when I need to, creating voice notes for instructing solicitors to update them, downloading documents to Ipages and larger documents to Ibooks. I rarely print out research materials. Everything is so much quicker than it used to be.
“When life becomes strange and difficult to cope with, I remember to remain determined and optimistic. Life is to be navigated bravely until you get to your destination”
What has been the most valuable piece of advice given to you?
What has been the key positive, or negative, impact of change in your area of the market?
The most valuable piece of advice was given to me by a pupil supervisor, whilst we were involved in advising Arsenal FC on ticketing. He said; “never to give up, no matter how long it takes to achieve your goals”. I carry this thought with me every day, in every aspect of my life. I keep my cup half full at all times - not in a Panglossian way - I am not stupidly optimistic - but I keep a positive ‘I can’ mindset. When life becomes strange and difficult to cope with, I remember to remain determined and optimistic. Life is to be navigated bravely until you get to your destination.
The key change has been that Barristers can work directly with clients through instantaneous communication. However, whilst I can undertake far more work than I could twenty years ago - and complete it far more quickly the expectations of prompt responses creates increased stress. It also means that there is no cut off time to receiving communication. Of course, social online networks now allows people to connect and work together without ever having face to face meetings.
If you were not in your current position, what would you be doing?
Who inspires/inspired you and why?
This might sound cliché but my Mother inspires me. She came to the UK at the age of seventeen, and has worked for the NHS from twenty-one, all whilst raising four children. She just turned seventy years old and still works long days five days a week. However, in terms of pursuing my career at the Bar, I would say that I have been inspired by the story of Cornelia Sorabji. Born in Bengal in 1866, she was the first woman to ever sit the Bachelor of Civil Laws exam at Oxford University, and became the first woman to practice law in both Britain and India. She was obstructed constantly from being
In more recent times it would have to be Lady Hale, the first female president of the Supreme Court, who delivered judgement against Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament. She has campaigned for greater gender diversity, and it was her so-called ‘feminist agenda’ that paved the way for Lady Arden and Lady Black to join the Supreme Court. Whilst at the Supreme Court, she has been a persuasive force in interpreting law in as compassionate a way as possible, particularly when it concerned the very vulnerable in society: children, mentally impaired, the destitute, etc. At a recent ‘Women in Law’ event at Bristol University with HH Justice Foster, the students remarked on how they had been inspired by Lady Hale.
instructed in serious cases, but she never gave up. Instead she focused her entire practice to furthering the rights of women until she retired.
is a Barrister of Employment & Public Law (Immigration, Education, and Regulatory Law) with No5 Barristers’ Chambers. Winner of Barrister of the Year at the Modern Law Awards 2020.
The last 20 years would have been an extraordinary time to be a broadcast interviewer, there are so many truths to uncover. If I was not a Barrister, I would have been a Broadcaster and Writer, conducting interviews as Christiane Amanpour (British-Iranian journalist and television host) does. She has reported from around the world, and hosts CNN International’s nightly interview program. When criticized about her reporting of the Bosnian Genocide, she said; “there are some situations one simply cannot be neutral about, because when you are neutral you are an accomplice. Objectivity doesn’t mean treating all sides equally. It means giving each side a hearing.”
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