29 Nov Should Lawyers Focus on Reopening the Office or Reinventing the Wheel? – The LeXFactor Briefs
In this episode of The LeXFactor Briefs, our hosts Lauren Hoffmann and Brad Paubel take a look into a Law.com article that reflects on where law firms have been putting their focus while returning to the office and adapting to hybrid work.
Lauren and Brad discuss their thoughts on this provocative article that says law firms today shouldn’t concern themselves so much with remote work vs. in person work, but rather focus on client service innovation and succession planning above all else.
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Lauren Hoffman: Hey, everybody. Welcome to another episode of the LeXFactor Briefs. It’s your host Lauren here.
Brad Paubel: And your co-host Brad.
LH: Was that too much?
BP: It was not. I liked it. It was just energetic. It was good.
LH: Let’s get this show on the road. Brad, how are you?
BP: I’m doing well.
LH: Yeah, anything exciting?
BP: Some very exciting things are going on. Our new event space is open here at Lexicon. For your holiday parties. Maybe just a business meeting.
LH: Mock trials. There’s two courtrooms in there.
BP: You know what else is also available? Recording podcasts. It can be done at any time. So just give us a call.
LH: They could be us.
BP: They could be. Anyone could be us. Sitting right here at this table, our table, that we have autographed.
LH: Was this too much? Shameless plug. It was fine. We’re just doing our jobs, guys. And as a reminder, listen, subscribe, you can find us on all the podcasts channels.
BP: Like us. Yeah.
LH: Easy plug again. Anywho, let’s get to some content.
BP: OK, what are we talking about today?
Should Law Firms Focus on Reopening the Office?
LH: So today we’re talking about an article from law.com titled, “Law Firms Are Focused On Office Returns and Hybrid Work But They’re Missing the Point.”
BP: What point are they missing?
LH: So we all know there’s a bigger issue in the legal industry and it’s really about the business side of law. It’s about culture, operations, client centricity, things like that.
BP: That’s a big word there. I was proud of you on that one.
LH: Thank you, I didn’t mess it up. So here’s the thing, I disagree with the article somewhat because I do think that hybrid work is very important. It’s very relevant, but it’s also somewhat forced the legal industry into more of a modern world, which we know, unfortunately, this industry is trailing a little bit. So I do think there is still some importance around that hybrid work experience. You know, we’ve helped firms adapt new technology, new operations, new culture, new practices, which has forced them to grow, and I think bring in better talent. And serve their clients in a different way.
So that’s where I do disagree with this article. But what I do really like about this article and the whole point of it, obviously, is that law firms have some serious holes to patch. And if they don’t start worrying about the right problems like client service, innovation, succession planning, inclusive hiring, and just in general, joining the 21st century there is going to be some problems. And regardless of where you work at home or in the office, that’s pointless if you’re not patching your other holes.
BP: Exactly. I really like your last point. I think that is so critical, especially with the way that the world is today with people wanting that hybrid environment. It’s not just that though. We talk a lot about that hybrid environment, but it’s also benefits, flexibility their own hours. I mean, it’s a whole new world. There are articles out there constantly about even getting away from the five-day workweek to the four-day or three days.
LH: I support that. I’ll start with four. We don’t have to be excessive.
BP: But a lot of that is out there and the legal industry is a little bit hard to shift and hard to change and they just have to get on board with, as you say, plugging those gaps.
Making Your Practice Client-Centric
LH: And what I really liked about this article is that they actually gave you some first steps. How do you take that step as a firm? And what they called out is that this redesign of your firm’s culture operations should really start with your client list. So how can clients be properly served holistically? So think about what investments in technology will best serve those priority clients. What demands from a culture standpoint are these clients seeking and really what are those clients short- and long-term goals? And all decisions can really be made from looking at your clients and starting with that client-centric starting point.
BP: It’s sort of meet them where they are. That’s what I took from it. I was talking to a couple of friends this last weekend about their attorneys. Obviously some of them were speeding tickets, things like that. They’re like, “Can I not just text them and be done with it? I don’t want to talk to anybody.”
LH: I texted my doctor this morning.
BP: That’s a good point.
I do know, know about the attorneys that they use. And, uh, obviously some of them were speeding. Tickets, things like that in there. Doctors – texting, video, right? You’re having your checkups.
LH: You at least have your patient portal. If you can’t text your doctor, you have that easy one-on-one communication with them and the world expects it. And to go back to that hybrid work experience that we’re quote unquote, not talking about here, the last, two years at this point, unfortunately, have caused some expectations of clients. Clients need you to be accessible in a way that works for them, especially with how much has changed in the past two years over the pandemic. So at the end of the day, if you don’t have your clients, and if you’re not meeting them in the middle, as Brad said, you have nothing. Without your clients, you don’t have money coming in.
Embracing Workplace Flexibility
BP: Exactly. It is so interesting because this article covers very much one side of the story, but also there’s that other side that you had brought up as well. It’s both meeting the client where they need to be, looking at that client list, but it’s also your employees too.
I mentioned the four-day workweek. They want more flexibility. People are quitting just to take time off and finding jobs later. So you have kind of this big dynamic between changing a whole environment both from an employee perspective and a client perspective. It’s really big change that we’re in right now for the industry. And it’s not just legal. It’s across the board.
LH: And I think, you know, at the end of the day, if you don’t really know where to start, or you don’t have the resources to understand more about your client base, talk to them next time they come in for a meeting consultation, get some feedback from them.
What would they like to see you do differently as a firm? Even if you can’t send out a survey via email, just ask them in person. And there’s a start right there.