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16 Mar 2016

4 Reasons to Run Your Legal Team Like a Startup

Lachlan McKnight

Startups are synonymous with agility and innovation. Facebook, Airbnb and Uber – all three identified problems and solved them creatively by placing consumer demands at the forefront. So, should you abandon your current business model and operate your legal team more like a startup? Here’s four reasons why you should.

1. Creativity

Startups foster a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurship. Their success relies on a shared conviction amongst team members to execute the idea and quickly. Startups then encourage testing new ideas with minimal red tape and bureaucracy. Failure in startups is seen as a positive inevitability that facilitates growth and improvement – fail often and fail fast so you can move onto the next idea. This approach is markedly different to traditional corporate legal teams. The time and resources invested in execution can see employers and employees wedded to projects that don’t work, are inefficient or they should simply let go. Fostering a culture of creativity in your legal team can provide a competitive edge as your team is constantly innovating and embracing technology to streamline their processes.

2. Flexibility

Startups do not have a vertical hierarchy and typically have a flat management structure. This flexibility attracts adaptable employees who can contribute to more than one team in your business. Your business then has employees who have experience across multiple fields rather than one area. This is an asset for the business when considering long-term professional growth.

Also, in the absence of a corporate ladder for employees to climb, there is greater transparency and visibility of the business’ progress. Team members can also take greater control over their projects, work according to their schedules and coordinate their work with their personal life and responsibilities. Consequently, you retain top talent and your employees are happier.

3. Culture

We have outlined the flexibility and flat structure of startups and how it can attract top talent. Your business and legal team cannot, however, afford to overlook the importance of culture. Startups are unique in that they have fewer resources than big businesses. As such, people who join startups see potential in the business and the opportunity to contribute meaningfully to its success. Open plan offices facilitate communication between different teams so employees can better understand what is happening at the executive level, ask questions of business development and assist with marketing efforts. Investing in creating this startup culture within your legal team inspires greater loyalty, and produces higher levels of job satisfaction.

4. Client-centric Focus

Adopting a client-centric focus requires more than delivering excellent client service. It requires responsiveness to changing consumer needs and personalising your offerings – your client base is not a homogenous group, so avoid speaking to them like one!

We are committed to putting to our clients first. I recognised early during my legal career that clients did not appreciate the surprisingly high end of month invoices or waiting days, sometimes weeks to hear back from their lawyers. LegalVision was founded on a service offering that responded to this dissatisfaction. We priced our legal services at a fixed fee. We created a comprehensive content library and drafted simple legal documents that clients could download for free on our website. If people had questions, they could read an article before calling our Client Care team. We now work on 48 hour turnaround times and deliver our services through a private cloud portal. Adapting a business model to respond better to what each client wants is critical for success and high growth.

Startups attract talent who are rarely motivated by pay, but by their shared vision with your values. They subscribe to your belief that your startup is destined for something bigger. Investing in workplace culture, encouraging creativity and innovation as well as adopting a client-centric focus are the hallmarks of any successful legal team – not just startups.

Lachlan McKnight

Lachlan McKnight is the CEO at LegalVision, Australia’s fastest growing tech-driven law firm. LegalVision is a market disruptor in the commercial legal services industry and has assisted more than 10,000 businesses.

Don’t miss Lachlan presenting at Legal Innovation & Tech Fest, 16-17 May 2016 in Melbourne on “Business Model Innovation – Running a Legal Team like a Tech Startup”.

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