A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

A Survival Guide for Legal Practice Managers

It’s not the (firm) size that matters, but how you use it!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

By Warrick McLean, ALPMA National President & General Manager, Coleman Greig

The recent ALPMA/Telstra Thought Leadership Awards and ALPMA/LexisNexis research show that most firms, regardless of size, are enthusiastically investing in technology as a key strategy to adapt to the changing legal landscape.

But it is not enough to roll-out an off-the-shelf package.

Think Outside of the Square

Law firms have to think outside the square in terms of technology implementation and how they partner with technology vendors and collaborate with customers in order to gain sustainable competitive advantage from their technology investment in the challenging and highly competitive Australasian legal market.

What I find very exciting is that there are a number of both small and large Australian firms who have embraced this concept wholeheartedly and are achieving some uniquely compelling and innovative outcomes that are strengthening their firm’s market position. 

Creatively Deploy Technology

Just have a look at the winners of the ALPMA/Telstra Thought Leadership Awards.  These firms are creatively deploying technology to improve customer loyalty, transform their firm operations, streamline cumbersome legal processes and drive significant productivity and profitability gains. 

Anderssen Lawyers, a Brisbane-based commercial and property law firm with just 16 staff was the overall winner for their impressive project creating a unique, secure, online operating environment that supports a 100% paperless and highly automated legal process and is accessible 24/7 for both staff and clients from anywhere on any device.  

The winning project allows Anderssen’s to deliver the personal service and reduced fees expected of a small firm, using a level of technology support  typically associated only with top tier practices.  This gives them a real strategic and competitive advantage.  To further instil strong loyalty from their client base, Anderssen’s quantified the economic savings from this project and passed these directly onto clients. Would this happen at your firm?

ALPMA/Telstra 2013 Thought Leadership Award Winners

Pictured (left to right) 
Warrick McLean, ALPMA National President; 
Will Irving, Group Managing Director, Telstra Business; 
Garry Pritchard, Managing Director, Emil Ford Lawyers; 
Jenny Warn, Project Lead, Hall & Wilcox: Graeme Gemmell, National Sales Manager, LitSupport (representing Bennett + Co) and 
Scott Thompson, Director, Anderssen Laywers.

Award Finalist, Bennett + Co’s (WA) worked closely with vendor, LitSupport, to develop a novel application of evidence management analytical methodology and technology to identify omissions and inconsistencies in evidence. This unique approach delivered a substantially more complete, sophisticated view of the evidence than would have been possible if conventional techniques had been applied, even if the budget had been unlimited, for a fraction of the cost.

Ultimately, the client was provided with a fully informed, substantially stronger foundation for negotiation of a settlement. Adoption of the methodology and technology applied in these proceedings to litigation generally would facilitate more fully informed resolution of disputes ‐ better outcomes at lower cost.

Hall & Wilcox (VIC) were recognised as Award Finalists for collaborating with a leading franchising customer and workflow vendor Caseflow to manage a large volume of documentation and deliver an online working environment that gives the client real-time oversight of their work, interactive involvement from the very start of their matters, faster turnaround times for instructions and less risk in the whole process.

Emil Ford Lawyers (NSW) were selected as Award Finalists for streamlining a common, repetitive and time consuming legal process, enabling Contract of Sale preparation to be done online, and delivering a contract licensed by the Law Society and REINSW to agents and lawyers within minutes of obtaining instructions, and then commercialising the Paradocs software.

Innovative Programs

There were also some excellent nominations from firms adopting innovative programs in non-technology areas, including a “Marketing Apprentice” program that saw partners and staff at Brown Wright & Stein compete in challenges to improve their marketing and business development skills overseen by Managing Partner “Geoff “Trump” Stein and a Thought Leadership program run for customers and staff by Swaab Attorney’s.

We can all take inspiration from these kinds of projects and use their examples to help us drive innovation at our firms.

Editor's Note

If you are interesting in finding out more about the Award winning projects, then register to attend ALPMA's webinar "Innovation & Inspiration: Insights from ALPMA's Thought Leadership Award Winners on November 7.  We will also be publishing blog posts from each of the Award recipients over the coming weeks.

The ALPMA/Telstra Thought Leadership Awards were presented to an overall winner and three finalists at the ALPMA National Summit Gala dinner at the Sydney Exhibition and Convention Centre on Friday 18 October. There were 20 projects nominated for the inaugural Awards, which showcase the innovative projects being undertaken by ALPMA members to address the changing legal landscape. Nominations were received a mix of small, medium and large firms, located across Australia.

About our Guest Blogger

Warrick McLean is the ALPMA National President, a role he has occupied for the past three years. His "day job" is General Manager, Coleman Greig.  

Prior to joining Coleman Greig in 2006, Warrick had extensive general management experience in professional service firms, in both the legal and accounting sectors. In 2007,  he became a Principal of the firm. Warrick works extensively with the other Principals and staff of Coleman Greig to identify, facilitate and implement the firm's strategic direction. 
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