It’s a well-worn movie trope. Five or six members of an elite team are shown in their respective roles. Displays of super-human strength, knowledge, and technical expertise are intercut with witty banter and exposition. You get a sense of each person’s role and character traits as you watch the group come together to achieve ‘the mission’, however improbable. And yes, there’s typically a single headlining star.
As you look around the room (or the screen) at your next meeting, imagine yourself in the director’s chair. Are the right people present? Are the different skills and capabilities needed to accomplish the task at hand being leveraged efficiently? Do you clearly understand why each person is there? And is anyone missing?
There’s a cliché at work in the storytelling business, but there’s a lesson to be learned for the legal business nevertheless. Today’s law firms aren’t just about star lawyers running point on a client’s matter. They’re about a team of allied professionals bringing their combined expertise to bear to achieve an outcome for the client.
It’s time to reimagine your law firm team
Here’s the thing about conference tables, they’re made to hold a lot of people — and not just lawyers.
Depending on your current role (or past experience) you might find the idea of bringing legal professionals other than lawyers into client-facing scenarios a bit off-putting. The idea of an all-star lawyer whose name and pedigree carries the day is ingrained in the minds of a lot of people.
But the needs of the biggest clients often surpass the abilities of a single lawyer. While legal expertise may be what brings in the business, ‘white-glove legal service’ keeps the biggest clients coming back. The truth is, a full view of legal services – the experience that the best and brightest law firms offer their clients – transcends any single personality or skill set.
That holistic approach includes skills like data analysis, project management, and financial oversight in addition to legal expertise. Call it the result of the great recession and the age of the algorithm. Clients now expect law firms to deliver the outcomes they expect, in a package that is cost-conscious and data-driven.
Finally, don’t forget to include the client in this vision of the legal team. As you evaluate the human resources available and present within your firm, consider who and what you need from the client’s side to deliver on the expectations being set.
For the team to work, the tech needs to work as well
Speaking of meeting expectations, a large part of today’s client experience depends on technology. For nearly a quarter now, face-to-face meetings have been replaced with a screen-to-screen approach. And as good as modern video conferencing is, the delivery of legal services includes far more than phone calls and email.
For example, litigation matters require shared access to relevant documents and information across a broad swath of roles within a legal team. What’s more, each user may have specific access limitations relevant to their role or the assets being shared. Simply creating a remote file server with basic consumer-grade permissions doesn’t cut it for law firms and their clients.
In another scenario, consider a typical transactional matter. You already know these require more than text edits and project management. And despite the team’s best intentions, manual processes and email chains are easily broken. The volume, complexity, and timing of just the paperwork involved quickly outpaces the capabilities of most office productivity applications.
A new vision of technology and teamwork
Legal-specific tools like HighQ can meet the needs of a broader legal service team. Lawyers and clients benefit from structured data and automated workflows, which ease the burden of repetitive tasks and sync up relevant documents within a legal matter.
Meanwhile, project managers and client relationship leads can deliver top-tier experiences faster with repeatable templates and on-demand reporting or custom client portals. For firms without such distinct roles, the same capabilities apply to lawyers or other members of the team who find themselves wearing multiple hats.
Processes are automated, the right people are included, the timeline is met, and the work…flows.
It’s quite the vision. It may be the one your clients already have in their heads.
The more advanced the client, the more advanced the needs. Meeting them requires law firms to look beyond the letterhead and consider who else should be included in your legal team. Get the right people in the room, and make sure they have the right technology at their disposal. Your clients already expect it. HighQ can help.
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This article originally featured on the Thomson Reuters global blog and has been republished here with full permission.