Top Takeaways from Sandpiper’s C-Suite Roundtable: Disruption and Innovation in the Delivery of Legal Services

Law firm leaders across the country joined the Sandpiper Partners Roundtable last week, to discuss the latest findings in relation to disruption and innovation in legal service delivery.

Top themes included:

  • Putting your clients first – how to prioritize changing client needs in 2021
  • Collaboration both externally with clients and internally between Associates and Partners
  • Disruption to legal talent and to the workplace in 2021

Rob Stote, Director of Client Services at BigHand was invited as a panelist on one of the sessions about examples of disruption that law firms are facing at this time. Here he shares his top takeaways from the event:

 Rob Stote, Director of Client Services at BigHand:

“When summarizing the event, Mark A. Cohen, Founder & CEO of Legal Mosaic said that we have entered the age of the client, and the legal c-suite will have to shift their attention from measuring PEP to measuring their Net Promoter Scores in 2021. We’ve seen this time and time again in conversions with law firms. It’s not enough to just deliver the legal work anymore. Clients expect law firms to be proactive, to use data to drive decision making, and to manage their Human Capital efficiently and fairly.

With physical distance still affecting working relationships, the event also focused on collaboration. Attendees discussed how law firms can best interact with clients, and which tools are best to facilitate it. This led into my session where we looked at the same issue – but internally facing. After all, Legal client service delivery can only be optimized if a firms’ internal service to its business partners is in a fit state.

In my panel, we looked at the two important catalysts of the last 12 months that have caused law firms all over the world to assess legal work allocation from partners to associates. The BLM movement has done much to kick-start better Equity, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives in law firms, and the pandemic raised questions about visibility of capacity while everyone is remote working.

The law firm professionals agreed that more clients are requiring their law firms to meet diversity requirements when staffing matters, meaning that EDI projects are now a commercial necessity and on the legal COO agenda, as well as a top HR prerogative. From our conversations with our clients, we know that those firms with a pragmatic and measured approach to how work is allocated, will see much more equitable results.

In my talk I highlighted the importance of data. As with so many change managements projects – decisions must be data-driven as you can’t manage or change what you cannot see. Having taken pre and post-project engagement surveys at our client sites, we’ve seen as much increase as 64% when we asked staff to assess how fair and consistent the work allocation within the firm was. Alongside development questions such as ‘my career development is taken into consideration when work is allocated’ – increasing from 47% pre-project to 81% post-project.

Of course, these matters are all the more important currently, as pointed out by one panelist, due to the decrease of associate churn in 2020, and the subsequent need to drive engagement with current staff and prioritize career development.

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