Advice on what every legal COO should be doing to succeed post pandemic

There is only one certainty and that is that life is already now different and will be different again post the pandemic. Looking at any parameters or statistics you can clearly see that this is a seismic global event, both on a health and economic level and beyond that. The legal sector will not be an exception and will be significantly affected. Change and transformation has so often been a slow track activity taken in baby steps, such as in digital transformation, which in the main has been cautiously applied against a backdrop of low risk appetites. The last 8 weeks have shown us that this must change. A rocket has launched in the legal sector and we must respond and innovate like never before!

These are the key transformation strategy elements that legal COOs, CEOs and Managing Partners should be putting in place in their change plans to succeed in the post covid-19 world:

1. Remote Work and Organisation
This is the tip of the change iceberg and with the myth of ‘can’t work from home’ now fully exposed, as remote working was rolled out universally in days, a change of approach is a certain home win. Real estate and office costs are a significant % of turnover and traditional property footprints now look outdated and heavy, with opportunities to slim down portfolios and re-think ways of working at their highest. Also, other remote activities, from legal training to client delivery, that have been levered in rapidly, now require de-risking, with clear processes and controls put in place, to ensure they are sustainable and compliant for the long term.
The change agenda here needs to incorporate good organisational design. What structures and practices of the past can and should be changed? Traditional partnership models, practice areas operating in isolation, and artificial corporate barriers don’t sit well with a need for rapid collaboration, adaptability and new digital ways of working. This needs wholescale review and change.

2. Digital Process Integration
To date many legal COOs and CIOs have talked about digital transformation, but the digital changes implemented have addressed specific legal processes and lower value activities, leaving an IT landscape still dominated by legacy applications and a spaghetti of non-integrated complexity. Whilst this has worked pre covid-19 in the post-pandemic world digital needs to be ubiquitous and scalable. Digital success will be about enabling legal to work, interact, deliver and win legal matters in a totally new way – take a look at the courts that are now embracing digital in a way that seemed some way off just at the start of 2020. Legal could also look over at the retail sector to see how the slow to change ‘bricks and mortar’ traditionalists have signed their own corporate death certificates. Legal consumers will be driven by new players with a high digital footprint and new ways of working not seen before beyond a niche player level. For post pandemic success, digital transformation needs to deliver what clients are looking for and not be a route to trim practice costs. Digital transformation is not piecemeal or temporary but the future and COOs who can get there first, and in weeks and months, not years, will reap the rewards.

3. Team and Leadership
As the forward agenda focuses on key elements as outlined in points 1 and 2, this needs to be driven by a new type of legal leadership. Forward looking CEO’s, Managing Partners and COOs need to build leadership teams that are suited to this new collaborative workplace with hybrid teams, flexibility of delivery and a need for customer and employee empathy, understanding and delivering solutions fast to solve needs. What is clear is that the old mindset sand the slow appetite for change and new approaches have been replaced by totally new behaviours and attributes that will drive future success of the best legal practices.

If you are a legal COO CEO or leader and would like to talk with Nine Feet Tall about your transformation strategy and plan please contact info@ninefeettall.com and we will set up a free consultation with a member of our team.
#organisationaldesign #workforceplanning #changemanagement #remoteworking

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