Award-winning Australian law firm Coleman Greig is a legal best practice trailblazer. General manager, Warrick McLean, shares his thoughts on what legal best practice means to the firm and why it’s essential to pursue it.
Coleman Greig is a name synonymous with legal best practice. In 2013, the firm won Best Law Firm in Australia (revenue under $50 million) in the BRW Client Choice Awards. In 2014, it also took home BRW awards for Best Provider to the Professional Services Sector and Best Provider to the Manufacturing Sector.
How did the firm achieve such impressive accolades? According to McLean, the key to legal best practice is putting the client first. “Our emphasis is on working with the client, understanding what their needs are and delivering their requirements”, he says.
Coleman Greig makes it their business to find out what their clients want and to position themselves as experts, not just in the law but in their clients’ needs. Focusing on what the market wants has secured the firm’s position as the first point of call, not just for its clients but also for key referral points.
According to McLean, “quick and direct access to the right lawyers” at Coleman Greig ensures efficiency and effectiveness, and contributes to long-lasting, positive relationships. Additionally, being able to offer the breadth and depth of service and expertise that are usually to be found in larger firms means they can cater for a vast range of client needs.
The principles of best practice
For Coleman Greig, best practice is based on simple principles. “We take the common-sense approach, and we give value for money. Clients just like doing business with us”.
This is an essential message for smaller firms seeking to improve their practice: relationship building is key. Securing strong relationships so that clients actually enjoy doing business with you is critical for legal best practice. And every firm would be wise to make that a priority.
This is particularly true in the fluctuating legal marketplace, which is posing challenges for many law firms. In McLean’s opinion, being able to recover from those challenges is an important journey, and having good relationships with clients makes that easier.
How to implement best-practice strategies
For smaller firms, implementing legal best practice strategies can be a daunting task. McLean recommends having a goal.
“The key is to focus on what you want and to be strategic about what you want to be. At Coleman Greig, we crystallised where we wanted to be. Our aim was to be the largest law firm in Western Sydney”.
With that in mind, the firm put in place best practices for achieving that goal. Another way for smaller firms to better their practice is to use their technology wisely.
“Technology provides opportunities for consistent and quick turnaround, which is what clients expect”, says McLean.
For smaller firms looking to improve their services, McLean advises harnessing that technology to make it work for their clients. “The key is to utilise what you have already and to make your IT systems reach their potential”.
Extending best practice across the firm
For Coleman Greig, best practice extends not just to the services it provides to its clients, but also to its staff and community.
More than 50 per cent of the firm’s staff enjoy flexible working arrangements, which provide real career options to a females in the workforce. The Coleman Greig Women in Business Forum also provides a popular networking platform for female executives in Western Sydney.
The firm also boasts a Legal Studies Cadetship Program, which has been operating for 15 years and offers a work-study program for law students at the University of Western Sydney. In October, Coleman Greig will launch its Executive Challenge. The fundraiser will see more than 200 participants running and cycling to raise funds for Northcott and St. Gabriel’s School, a school for students with hearing impairment and other special needs.
“We need to be seen as part of the community, to offer educational events, to continue to build a presence in the profession and to continue to attract the best candidates. Which is exactly what Coleman Greig will continue to do. Because that’s what successful legal best practice looks like”, says McLean.