Discover how the world’s most progressive law companies are doing law differently.
There's lots of talk about why we need to change the legal industry, but much less about how to do it. The Doing Law Differently podcast taps into the valuable knowledge of those who are walking the talk of NewLaw. We interview leaders of progressive law companies who are reinventing traditional legal practice and transforming the profession for the better.
From alternative fee arrangements and new technology to innovative business models and new ways of delivering services, we find out what NewLaw looks like from the inside.
Join Lucy Dickens in her weekly conversations with forward-thinking leaders in law who share how they’re doing law differently.
It’s Time to Do Law Differently – Pre-order now available!
There’s no fun jingle today because I’m just stopping in to quickly let you know two things.
First, there’s no new episode this week – I’ve been busy putting the finishing touches on my new book – but the good news is that it’s now in the hands of the printers. I’ve got lots of interviews lined up in the coming weeks so we’ll be back on track with some DLD goodness for you next week.
The second thing – far more exciting – my new book It’s Time to Do Law Differently: How to Reshape Your Firm and Regain Your Life is now available for pre-order in Australia. You can get your copy here.
I’m so excited (and, let’s be honest, slightly terrified) to share this book with the world. It’s the result of years of work pulling together what I know about building a modern law firm.
What I see all the time is that law firm leaders have so many ideas about how to change their firm, but they are missing the roadmap – the piece of the puzzle that pulls all the loose ends together and tells them what to do and in what order. That’s exactly what my book does — it takes all the competing ideas and theories and translates them into a strategy for your firm.In It’s Time to Do Law Differently, I share my six-step blueprint for transforming your law firm. Learn how to move from a traditional practice to a productised ecosystem and as a bonus, you might just get that quality lifestyle that you’ve been craving.The book is being printed as we speak and will be ready to ship to you in early November. Pre-order your copy now for $29.95 plus postage and be the first to get your hands on a copy.
If you’re listening from overseas, don’t worry, I haven’t forgotten you. If you are super keen to get your hands on a copy, send me an email and we’ll work out your shipping, otherwise, come mid-November the book will be available on Amazon for you to order wherever you are around the world.
See you next week for some usual DLD fun.
Systems, Social Media and Subscription Pricing with Foundd Legal’s Riz McDonald (ep 62)
Riz McDonald, founder and director of Foundd Legal is here to chat about how she went from feeling like a square peg in a round hole in traditional firms to finding her passion in her own forward-thinking business. Of all the things that separate Foundd from typical firms, perhaps the most important is Riz’s mindset:
“Don’t think like a lawyer, think like a business person!”
By thinking like a business and keeping an eye on the longer-term, Riz is able to help her clients grow their businesses in ways that most firms simply aren’t interested in. To contextualise, her firm was designed to address a gap in the market: creatives, entrepreneurs, designers and small businesses who don’t have access to traditional legal services. Foundd fills that gap by making all the boring, overwhelming legal stuff both accessible and affordable and by teaching their clients to be proactive to prevent issues further down the line.
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things we talk about that contribute to the success of Foundd Legal:
* An alternative fee system: Foundd offers fixed pricing and subscription bundles which, in itself, is radical. But more than that, when a client’s needs fall outside of her pre-defined scope, Riz is more than happy to do some bespoke value pricing. * Systems and processes: Riz uses technology (she shares all the software she uses in the episode) to form a holistic view of her client’s journey as well as of her own goals and targets. * Marketing: Foundd shares value and knowledge freely through social media with the dual objective of educating people and reaching out to clients.
When it comes to marketing and knowing your client, Riz knows her stuff. I highly recommend that you check out Foundd Legal’s website and Instagram (linked below) if only to catch a glimpse of their visual branding prowess. It’s this, paired with consistency, that encourages her target audience – creatives – to get in touch with her. Instagram itself has become, for Foundd, a hot spot for client engagement:
“I get a lot of my clients through my Instagram DMs. They tell me they love my profile and then they get into the nitty gritty of what they want to talk about. Then, they get sent a link to book in a consult with me.”
Foundd Legal, led by Riz, is a radically different gem of a firm in an industry that’s struggling to outgrow its old ways of client engagement and internal work structure. Throughout the interview, Riz shares heaps of high-value advice, truly walking the talk of a flourishing 21st Century legal practice that sees itself as a business more than a law firm. What is abundantly clear by the end of the episode is that Riz loves what she does and she wouldn’t have it any other way. She encourages the rest of us to do the same:
“You have to love what you do. Don’t try to fix problems for everyone. Know what kind of work you really love and what makes you happy.”
About our guest
Riz has worked as a lawyer for over 16 years and has worked both in private practice and in-house. Riz discovered that there were a huge number of amazing designers, creatives and fellow entrepreneurs who had fantastic ideas and business models, but had no access to the legal ins and outs that are imperative to running a fully legitimate, successful and protected company. She knows from experience how difficult and time consuming it can be to build a business from the ground up, and making sure you’re doing everything the right way can be daunting. This inspired Riz to share what she’s learned with other brilliant, like-minded individuals.
Riz provides detailed templates with user guides and videos...
The Behind-The-Scenes Action of my New Book (ep 61)
Today’s episode is a change of pace, with me giving you some insight into the behind-the-scenes action that’s enabled me to write my very first book. This is a huge milestone for me, it’s years in the making and I’m very proud of the end result.
It’s Time to Do Law Differently: How to Reshape Your Firm and Regain Your Life by me, Lucy Dickens, is ready to be published in October 2020. You can register to be the first to know when it’s available for pre-order by signing up at www.lucydickens.com.au/Book
I’m doing this episode – and will do a couple more in the coming weeks – because my inbox has seen a lot of interest in writing books generally; the process, how it works, why I did it, etc. So, for those of you who are thinking about doing it yourself or are just curious about my writing process, listen to this episode.
I give a broad overview of what my book is about, why I wrote it and how I dealt with the overwhelm of writing 40,000 words. It’s a big undertaking – getting all the stuff in my head into one place – so it has truly been a journey.
Lucy Dickens quotes
* Pushing through the self-doubt, imposter syndrome, confidence crisis has been a massive exercise in personal development for me. * I don’t believe in the mantra ‘make your business run without you’ because people do want to be involved in their business, but they want to do it on their own terms. Run your business and don’t let it run you.
Like this show?
* Please leave me a rating and review on Apple Podcasts – even one sentence helps other people to find out about the show! * Never miss an episode – subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts or Spotify * If you’re doing law differently and want to share your insights on the podcast, get in touch here. * Download my latest e-book, 80 ways to modernise your law firm, full of short, sharp and practical tips to help you firm your foundations, sort your strategy and optimise your operations * Connect with me on LinkedIn
World-Renowned Mitch Kowalski has One Thing to Say: Let’s Blow it All Up and Start Fresh (ep 60)
“If we didn’t know what a law firm was supposed to look like – if we were Martians from Mars – how exactly would we do this?”
Today’s guest Mitch Kowalski is a globally acclaimed author, legal operations advisor, innovation consultant and a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management in Toronto, Canada. I came across Mitch when he came to do a talk in Perth a few years ago and since then I’ve been a huge fan of his work.
Mitch’s perspective has grown alongside the countless law firms and, crucially, law students that he’s worked with over the years. In fact, hindsight features heavily in our discussion: Mitch laments the lack of real change that’s occurred in the decade since he wrote his book Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Practices for the 21st Century. This view may be a touch pessimistic but the reality is that Mitch and I float around in a bubble of forward-thinking lawyers while the rest of the industry stands still in a permanent state of inertia. As Mitch puts it:
“If you put our bubble in a bucket, you see that the bucket really hasn’t moved. You might have made a little bit of a ripple but it ain’t moving that much. That’s how I look at rate of change: Has the profession as a whole moved forward?”
In tackling that question, we talk about Covid-19 and the impact it could and should have on the business of law; an easier litigation procedure, moving away from big firm environments and more remote working… These changes and more could be super positive for the legal industry but only if it were to stop resisting change.
Hope for a better future might lie in the next generation of lawyers and Mitch is right there in the trenches with them; teaching, moulding and planting seeds. In the podcast, he gives an impassioned rundown of the educational challenges – outrageous tuition fees included – that face today’s up-and-coming lawyers. In response to his firsthand experiences and to wider trends, he discusses potential ways to reinvent the system ranging from practical, immediate changes to radical, long-term ways of restructuring education as a whole.
“If your goal as a law school is to pump out graduates and say ‘good luck’, that’s fine. But if your goal is to train the widest range of people who will do good for society because of their diverse range of experiences in life, and to give them the tools necessary so they can hit the ground running faster than their colleagues elsewhere, then I think we have to really blow it up and start again.”
If you want to join the bubble, listen to what Mitch has to say about the state of the industry, read his books and watch his talks. He’s been saying this stuff for a decade now and though the mainstream is finally catching on, it will take real effort and momentum to actually make a difference.
About our guest
Mitchell Kowalski is General Counsel of Aoyuan Canada and the Gowling WLG Visiting Professor in Legal Innovation at the University of Calgary Law School. He is a Fellow of the prestigious College of Law Practice Management, a Fastcase 50 Global Legal Innovator, and the author of the critically-acclaimed books, The Great Legal Reformation: Notes from the Field, and Avoiding Extinction: Reimagining Legal Services for the 21st Century.
Mitch Kowalski quotes
* “We should blow up the law firms and the law schools and start fresh.”
* “There’s far too much inertia in the legal profession and that really holds us back.
‘It Does What It Says on The Tin’: A Lesson in Simplicity for Business and Life with Clarissa Rayward (ep 59)
Today I’m joined by a very special guest, my friend and mentor, Clarissa Rayward in a refreshingly unfiltered conversation about her law firm, her ‘side hustle’ and The Retreat, the world’s best legal conference that she runs annually.
Clarissa has been in family law since forever and has been running her own law firm, the Brisbane Family Law Centre, since 2008. Clarissa is also something of a guardian angel for 130-odd lawyers, businesses owners and professionals around Australia (of which I am one) who all hang out in the online space that she created: Happy Lawyer Happy Life ‘The Club’.
There is so much to learn from Clarissa and the truly amazing thing about her is that she’s more than willing to share her ideas with anyone who’s willing to listen. Doing so, she says, feeds her fundamental desire to help people (that’s why she’s a lawyer). She doesn’t care about being secretive about her creative process because even when people steal her ideas, she’s already moved onto the next one. In fact, sitting on business secrets out of fear is a big part of the general unhappiness that haunts our industry.
When she got started in family law, Clarissa didn’t agree with the way things were being done:
“I was observing it to be delivered in a way that didn’t enable people to move forward, be friends and productively do things in a way that supports their children into the future.”
Now, when working with people going through divorce and separation, she describes it as ‘looking for amicable solutions’ which ultimately means helping couples remain friends well after the divorce process.
Divorce, which Clarissa talks about as ‘heartbreak’, is a human, emotional issue, not a legal issue. As such, the Brisbane Family Law Centre has actively developed strong relationships with psychologists, financial planners and accountants in order to allow clients to get the professional advice they need in a one-stop-shop sort of way. This minimises stress for the client and prevents lawyers from ticking a box by simply mentioning to a client that they need to find an accountant. As Clarissa says, ‘other professionals have real value in the space of estate planning and divorce’.
So, Clarissa conducts her business in a very holistic way. In the episode, she talks us through how she organises her team, uses social media to boost her message and attract more clients and turns ten-page long advice letters into nifty one-page infographics. A lot of that extraordinary work was enabled by her team target concept whereby her entire staff focuses on a weekly, collaborative goal. I love this because it removes all the hierarchical nonsense from the firm and makes it so that no one is more valuable than anyone else, it’s just a case of:
“What’s the thing that needs to be done? Who has the skillset to do it? And we just get on with it.”
I can’t end these show notes without mentioning The Retreat which is the annual physical manifestation of Clarissa’s online club. Last year, there were giant inflatable flamingos, tinsel walls and even a flash mob, intermingled of course with a series of high-quality, high-energy and high-performance presentations conducted by speakers from a wide array of professions. This year The Retreat will take place virtually, thanks to COVID-19, but having heard some of Clarissa’s ideas for the weekend, I’m excited and confident that it’ll be nothing less than an extravaganza. Tickets are on sale at www.happylawyerhappylife.com/theretreat.
Listen for an enlightening discussion of all things law and business,
The Anti-Artisanal Approach that Makes Sean King More Than a Lawyer (ep 58)
Welcome to this week’s episode of DLD where I am proud to introduce today’s guest, founder and director of Proximity, Sean King. I first found out about Sean – and subsequently asked him to feature on DLD – when Proximity’s name was listed as a finalist in 6 categories in the recent Lawyer’s Weekly Australian Law Awards. They clearly had something to share. We spend most of the episode talking about the history, business strategy and systems that got Proximity, and Sean, to where they are now. As usual, this article is only a summary – if you want to learn the ins and outs of Sean’s practice, you’ll have to listen to the podcast!
When Sean and James Dunn (his co-director) first set up Proximity in 2011 they had both been working in a big global law firm which, as my listeners will know, comes with a familiar set of baggage:
“We could see that the projects we were working on were bigger than the legal issues. It wasn’t an option at our firm to delve into those other parts of the matters and we couldn’t see another firm doing it.”
And thus, a new business was formed! One that would attract lawyers who specifically wanted to bring their skills to a broader range of the challenges facing their clients. From there, Proximity honed in on its three lines of service; legal, commercial and consulting. In a very NewLaw way, everything they do is a sharp move away from what Sean likes to call ‘the artisan approach to law’.
Side note: what is ‘the artisan approach to law’? Sean describes it as treating everything as a unique, once-in-a-lifetime problem when in reality, most cases have parallels with other ones so taking advantage of that is a big win-win.
Perhaps the most exciting and empowering thing about starting your own law firm is that you start with a blank canvas, meaning you get to design what you want to be in the firm. For anyone thinking of doing the same, listen up. Sean, with all the benefits of experience, actively took ideas with him and left others behind. While the type of work he wanted to do remained the same – i.e. large-scale, government matters – he completely reinvented the workplace and its approach (as well as his own software, Optics). And he continues to do so!
A quick summary of Proximity’s ‘thing’:
* Billable targets are out, career and wellbeing managers are in. * Partners have been completely replaced with a multi-disciplinary focus and a fluid work experience. * Cutting costs (time and money) with automated services that use past experience to make the future more efficient.
So, how is Sean doing law differently? It’s all of the above, with a solid and actionable ethos thrown in. It’s an ethos that says: we embrace change, we don’t believe in creating extra stress and we want the team we manage to work on things that they’re genuinely interested in. Not-to-mention Proximity’s pro-bono work and community focus.
“When we established the firm, we were keen to have a triple bottom-line: what’s right for clients, for the staff and for the communities that we’re in.”
About our guest
Sean King is a Director of Proximity and a passionate business leader. He is highly regarded by clients as a strategic advisor and lawyer to the government, technology, utility and non-profit sectors. Sean is a proud dad and husband, founder of Proximity, adventure race world championships competitor and a regular volunteer.
Proximity is a professional services business providing legal, commercial and consulting services to the government and regulated ind...