Rethinking the Business of Law with the Manchester Law Society
Joseph Rahim, Senior Consultant03 February 2020
Last week, the Manchester Law Society held their first major event of the year with the full-day conference: ‘Rethinking the Business of Law’. The day provided significant insight into the rethinking of some of the core features of legal business, with speeches from a variety of successful business leaders. In my first blog for Interlink, I share a little more about the topics covered and consider how future changes in legal business will impact staffing and recruitment.
Understanding the legal sector
As a Senior Consultant in the North West Private Practice team here at Interlink, I feel it is extremely important to attend local training events for the wider legal community. I want to make sure my own knowledge is current so that I am aware of all the changes and challenges that firms are facing across the legal landscape. Much like anyone who provides a service to their clients, I feel it is vital I understand the ins and outs of the sector I’m working in. I’m always keen to expand my knowledge so that I can better relate to the Law Firms and Solicitors I work with.
The need for tech
This seminar focused on embracing technology to transform the way in which Solicitors are working. As a self-confessed technophobe, I thought this was extremely informative. It was particularly interesting listening to James Akrigg, who was a former Partner at Microsoft. James discussed the technologies of the now and the future; where the scope and potential for law firms is considerable.
There was then a section of the seminar relating to client experiences and the journey which they enter into upon instructing a law firm. It was interesting that Client care and Firm Culture are of huge importance. And we see that in some of the role specifications we receive from law firms. The need for legal professionals who provide the very best level of client service, and who can blend into the firm’s culture. It’s more than talent alone.
The next section of the seminar focused on how Law Firms have been collaborating with Manchester University under the Manchester Law & Technology Initiative. It was particularly interesting listening to Olivia Balson, Global Centre Director at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. They are one of the largest global firms working with Manchester University. Olivia discussed how law firms were collaborating with the University to resolve and review procedures at Freshfields. This is giving Students hands-on experience of working with large law firms and addressing real problem-solving issues. This project is also beneficial to the firms involved as the students’ feedback can be implemented into improving procedures.
Securing risk in the digital age
After a lovely lunch and networking in the Podium Restaurant, the seminar continued with a talk about the lifecycle of documents at a law firm. There was a lot to consider regarding digital storage and data privacy. It’s a big area of concern for law firms, no doubt about that.
There was then a section in respect of Risk Management in the digital world. Michelle Garlick of Weightmans, former president of the Law Society, gave a thought-provoking speech on this subject. She discussed the importance of securing information and reputation. We then heard an excellent talk from Ed Smethurst of Prosperity Law and Palladium Insurance. Ed discussed the risks faced by law firms in respect of data protection and Intellectual Property theft. He also made clear the fact that law firms require appropriate insurance to cover such issues, which is something that Palladium specialise in. Within recruitment, risk management is a huge area of growth and we’re already seeing an increase in respect of requirements for Intellectual Property Solicitors, Technology Solicitors and Data Protection Solicitors. It's likely this trend will continue and alongside it, there will be a significant increase in non-solicitor support roles in these areas too.
A new working revolution
Following a further coffee and time for networking, we received a talk relating to how lawyers are working in today’s climate. Darryl Cooke of Gunnercooke made plenty of noteworthy points around the different working patterns and environments for modern solicitors. He discussed the fact that lawyers are working at different times and difference places. We have very much departed from the traditional model of being in the office from 9 until 5. Darryl emphasised the need to embrace this, outlining the fact that performance improved with flexible working. And, most importantly, how an excellent culture within the company, one which is laid back and supportive, helps boost productivity. He also outlined the fact that younger lawyers need to be trained more appropriately to meet the changes within legal services. And that is to not just be trained to be good lawyers, but good businesspeople too.
It got me rethinking the business of law
I have to say, it was a thoroughly good conference and a pleasure to attend. A big thank you to the Manchester Law Society for a very informative and insightful event. From a recruitment perspective, I took a lot away from the day. One of the main points I learnt was the need to aptly understand firms’ cultures, working patterns, technology plans and risk management procedures. By understanding those, I can then bring forward the most relevant candidates in terms of a ‘good fit’, thus hopefully fulfilling both parties’ expectations and strategy.
If you’re a law firm in the North West, looking for a recruitment partner that takes a pragmatic approach to your legal staff sourcing; who listens and understands your requirements, contact Joseph to make an initial appointment to discuss your needs. Before joining Interlink, Joseph was a 12-years' post qualified solicitor. He has a vast amount of experience in how solicitors and law firms operate, with an understanding of the hands-on issues. You can contact him directly at the office on 0161 834 0225 or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org.