A Single Source of Truth for Strategic Planning and Execution
Mandy Neske, Sales Director for Litera’s Objective Manager offering, led a Changing Lawyer Summit panel that provided insight into the ways that technology is enabling more robust and well-executed strategic planning processes in law firms. Read transcript
Sales Director for Litera’s Objective Manager offering
Director of Business Development at Stinson LLP
Managing Director, Professional Markets
Co-founder, NextLevel Leadership Coaching
VP Customer Success, Litera
Welcome to Legal Tech Matters, a Litera podcast dedicated to creating conversations about trends, technology and innovation for modern law firms and companies big and small.
Up next, continuing our data track sessions, let's explore the advantages a single data repository has for all teams and departments in the modern law firm.
Hi, everybody. Thank you very much for joining today's session. My name is Mandy Neske. I'm with Litera’s Objective Manager Team. I'll be moderating today's session. I've been looking forward to today's event. Really excited about it. We have a really great group of panelists for you today. Each bringing a lot of significant experience with them. And with that being said, we only have 45 minutes for our fun filled, brilliant conversation. So with that, I want to give you guys a chance to get to know our panelists and Paul, did you want to maybe say hello and give us a little bit about your background?
Hello, everyone. I'm Paul Devitt. For 30 plus years, more than I care to remember. I was an advisory lawyer and within that period also I had the great privilege to be managing partner of what was a national and then an international law firm with revenues about 230 to 250 million dollar equivalents.
And within that had the great challenge and pleasure of launching a strategy to help us overcome and prosper following the financial crisis. More recently was an executive partner in the UK at EY Law helping found and progress that, and now I'm an executive coach and a board advisor, both to professional services partners and to tech companies.
Great. Thank you. Amanda, did you want to tell us a little about yourself?
Sure. I'm Amanda Bakken, Director of Business Development at Stinson LLP. We're an AmLaw 200 firm based in the Midwestern United States. I reside in our Minnesota office. As you can tell by my accent, I can assure you it's less pleasant than the panelists from across the pond. But thanks for having me.
Thanks for joining us today, Amanda. James, would you like to go next?
Hi, everyone. Ms. Lawson and director of Customer Success for the Terra Objective Manager. And my background is I've been in customer success now for over 20 years and ex-Oracle. And now obviously working with Litera within the law tech industry with Law Firms
Great. Thank you, James and Richard.
And hello, everyone. I'm Richard, spent most of my career at Deloitte. I was managing partner first for strategy and planning, which have to be relevant this morning and then for clients and markets. I subsequently spent time, a law firm called Allen and Overy launching a new business called Pierpoint and involved in their legal tech developments, and spent the last couple of years at a firm called Thomson Reuters that some of you Litera guys might have heard of.
So with that, I'd like to just set the stage a little bit and discuss how firms are planning today. What are you doing for your strategy planning?
Amanda, do you want to maybe just give us some insight into what Stinson is doing today with their strategic planning process?
Sure. So every year, we ask our partners to complete individual engagement plans or what they want to accomplish in the coming year. And we used to have them complete these plans in word documents, if you can believe that, that was years ago. Obviously, there are a lot of disadvantages to doing it that way. We often found that the attorneys would complete their plans, they would submit them and then they would go stale on the shelf somewhere.
Also, it's not easy to share those word documents with others, and it's nearly impossible to search through those word docs to find commonalities or collaboration opportunities. So a switch to an online tool called Objective Manager. We are still asking attorneys to complete and submit their plans at the beginning of every year.
But now that plan stays top of mind for our attorneys because the platform allows for due date reminders that come into the attorneys inboxes. And we also encourage attorneys to really do a global search of objective manager prior to pursuing any particular prospect, because understanding and leveraging the relationships among all of our colleagues is within that prospective client company. We use that and it's very effective.
Yeah, absolutely, having that, the visibility that technology can bring that simply you can't find those disconnected word documents. You know, it's really can be a game changer. James, I know you work with, you know, a lot of a lot of our firms and just your experience in technology. What are you seeing being used throughout the platform from a planning perspective?
Yeah. So what what what you hear from Amanda is a great example of like driving that change through because it's a cultural change, not just the change about process or bringing something into play. And really the key to it with most law firms is creating adherence to plans. And what is the trigger? What's going to get the buy into? Well, whether I do this plan or not, I don't know what the outcome is the same and stepping out of that to bring some value in the execution itself. We see lots of firms look at things such as Porter’s five forces, using OKRs, all of those kind of things are kind of brought into play with various customers as tools and resources.
But ultimately, what we find with most customers is it's the leadership behavior and looking at the data that comes from those plans to to drive for success. Interestingly, the customers who tend to kind of see plans as a sideline activity or one that doesn't necessarily need appearance, they tend to see that there's money left on the table and this kind of experience it submits around the client's experience and despite the outcome. And so with these plans successfully released, right? And if you can only manage what can be measured. So there's an element of it with most clients is becoming more popular because they're beginning to now look at the data and look at, well, actually, “I understand what we made and how we did with our clients. But can you quantify that in terms of the activities and what was driving that success?” And that's the beauty of strategic planning. We're seeing an increase in popularity at the moment.
Yeah, and absolutely managing what you can measure. I think that's, you know, really, really a key point there. Paul and Richard in any any thoughts around what you've been seeing from planning perspective.
I would like to accentuate a point which James made on the way through there, I think the he mentioned the modeling. That's an important point, which is very, very adjacent to that and actually alongside something which Seth mentioned in the introduction earlier today. Not just role modeling, but the the personal connection from leadership. Which, in my experience, can get one of two pretty wildly differing reactions, maybe from the leadership and maybe from the people who are who have been connected with. From, “Oh my goodness, what is all this about? How long will this take? To, oh - there's something here. Somebody is taking time to properly investigate and connect and try and understand what it's really like at the coalface or where I am and what my what my client's issues are and what my practice groups issues
Are.” And that, I think then when that translates into planning. That can be really powerful because one isn't simply saying “this is the plan. This is your goal which aligns with the plan.” But there's a conversation about the right behavior to execute and also perhaps about some hurdles that need to be overcome where the enterprise, the organization, the leadership need to provide some blocking or some assistance. And I think to plan without recognition of the necessary areas for improvements can can be a real challenge.
Absolutely. OK. So there are some firms today who are still dealing with the word documents, right, that that Amanda described or, you know, might have a combination, right? You might have people who have the word people who love the excel. You have, you know, your PowerPoints, they want some pictures in their plans. So how did you successfully move from these kind of siloed or, you know, disconnected plans into, you know, a more unified planning process, you know, with software so that I think it'd be great to kind of understand how you made that leap.
Sure. I'm happy to explain that. And I think it really boils down to three things, three key factors I would say the first would be ambassadors. The second would be education. And the third would be ease of use. And I'll talk a bit about each of those categories here as well. Ambassadors. So we really took a phased approach in our rollout of our online tool.
First, we offered it to our practice leaders. We knew that they would be instrumental in encouraging our attorney population to use it. So we wanted them to feel like they were part of the decision And because change is hard, we created solid, solid talking points for them to use in overcoming objections that they might encounter along the way.
In terms of education, we created training programs that address the importance of planning as well as how to use the tool. And going back to some of Seth's comments, you know, we we wanted to explain the why. Yeah, why it's important so that people felt inspired to create their plans. They didn't just feel like this was something that, you know, our business development team or firm leadership was asking them to do. We wanted them to understand that there's a real reason and a real purpose for doing it.
So that was our education, and then in terms of ease of use, we made it super easy for the attorneys to complete their engagement plans. If we did this a few different ways. first of all, we made accessing their plans super easy by offering that single sign on link on the home page of our firm portal. And we kept the the plan template really simple. We only had five categories of questions so that it didn't feel overwhelming or really burdensome. And in that way we were able to really prioritize what they were working on. And then finally, we offered one-on-one sessions with our business development managers to really coach the attorneys on what they should put into the plan and how to put it into their plan. So ambassadors, education and ease of use for us.
Yeah, absolutely. I think ambassadors are key. And then also, you know, which you mentioned, is keeping it simple, right? I think people get really excited sometimes when they see technology and they want to put a lot of content in it, you know, and they think, great, we have this software. Let's do a list of 15 goals. But the problem is when you're really focused on strategic planning, you want to have a smaller number, so you can really keep that top of mind throughout the year and be successful. You want that real laser and focus on your strategic goals. So absolutely keeping it simple is key so that it is successful. James, I want to come around to you again because I see this a lot and I know you talk about best practices and what you should think about when approaching planning. Anything that you'd like to add?
I mean that one of the key things that Amanda mentioned was the phased rollout. And because what you're doing is trying to encourage good behaviors and habits within within the firm and that the simplicity element of it, a lot of it comes down to how you articulate the whole thing.
So from from what? From using planning to the plan itself to what's in the plans, the articulation of the importance of what they're doing is key. But what I see over time and time again is the fact that this is these are kind of like the seeds that are going to plant a tree in which you're
going to get the fruits of their labor from. So with these plans again coming back to the days conversation that the session prior to this, there's a lot that can be learned from plans. And that's really whether you're a solo lawyer or working as part of a team, you are going to want to know what's in your peripheral vision at all times. You're also going to want to know what all the outstanding questions, you know, as a lawyer, you don't want to be co-opted by those things because you just not in your nature.
And so and more so you don't want people to be thinking those things. They might not be wanting to silence you. Having a plan opens that up. And so this is one of the things I get feedback a lot from partners is we're asking more questions now, but the right questions because we know what the plan is and that's something that, you know, that is and will reap the rewards on based on what they run out.
And buy the plan. James, you mean not just the goals, but what the context is, the rationale behind the strategy and what the benefits will be and why is what clients what?
Yeah, exactly. So that effectively what clients want. Not so it's not just an exercise of following correlation, causation and correlation, the different things that exist. So the rationale behind it is that there is some tangible benefit for everybody involved in this process and that sort of thing going back to the articulation of the message and how you market it and promote it. And along with the firm strategy, I've heard some law firms not even realize that they're in the exercise itself because they've managed to market it in such a way that you're just following the firm strategy. And it doesn't, often they lean on the financial side of that data to drive to get a biting point. But there are other elements as well now that law firms will roll into, such as ESG, etc..
I want to give a pause and make sure I'm not going too fast or any better. Perfect. So we recently released a paper with with Dr. Heidi Gardner, “Closing the Strategy to Execution Gap.” And in that particular paper, it's discussed that a fundamental reason why there is a gap between plan creation and execution is that the firm members feel disconnected from those plans. So. So how do you foster that connection between the firm plan and the actual partner's success. Richard, I'd love to get your thoughts on that one.
So, so a few thoughts on that Mandy. The first part for me is that partners have to believe in the plan. They have to believe in the end goal and they're not going to believe in it just because you communicate what it is, or even if you engage them in it. They have to be part of designing the end goal. And I find increasingly that that is actually rare and that leadership teams want to go off into a darkened room and work this out for themselves. Maybe with some help some consultants. And it won't work. You have to get the parties involved. The last time I put together a strategy for the UK firm, we involved 700 partners in the process. How did we get to a strategy that they all agreed with? No, of course we didn't, but they felt like they'd had input, and they could recognize that the themes that came out fit were broad consensus across the partners
So the first thing is that they've kind of got to be part of getting it together. The second thing is, and it seems like a ridiculous thing to say, but the plan has to reflect the goal. And this is partly, I think, James's point that, you know, too many plans end up being entirely numbers driven, and it is rare for the strategy plan to be entirely numbers driven. So you have this gap immediately opened up, which is that all the partners in the units within which they're operating appeared to be tolerated on a set of financials, and the firm is talking about a wider set of strategic goals.
And that doesn't work, either. You know, you've got to be in a position where partners and their teams understand what contribution they're making to the strategy widely defined. It doesn't mean that everybody's contribution is the same. And it might be that some partners are only there to deliver financial results, or that would be a bit unlikely, but there has to be clarity about where they are. The third thing is, it's probably for me, the leadership behavior point that both Paul and James raised earlier that the metrics in the management of performance are a factor here.
But at the end of the day, partners behave according to the way that they see partly, they're leaders, but much more importantly, the people they see as their role models acting. And so thinking about how aligned strategic activity and behavior is celebrated within the organization and just as important that leaders find a way of indicating when things happen, that would not align this strategy and that that is a bad thing is really important because, you know, we've all seen it happen. But if the people you think are really the best people in the firm are doing things in a certain way, everybody else follows.
And so that whole issue of reinforcement of strategic behavior is critical. And then the forth thing, you know, is really around compensation. So there has to be a direct link between compensation and the contribution that's made to the strategic plan. It can't be just about how much revenue you build this year has to be about overall the contribution you've made to the strategic plan that we employ now. In Deloitte several years ago, we embarked upon a strategy focused on building major client relationships.
And one of the consequences of that is that we reserved the top half of the point system in the partner process to people who were leading major relationships. It didn't matter how much of your own billings you had, you could be the highest biller in the firm. You could not get it into the top half of the partnership without being responsible for a major relationship on behalf of the firm. And that kind of mechanism changed behavior pretty quickly to cause people to behave. So I think those, you know, the compensation that ultimately is very important and you've got to get those tied together, but that has to be linked to, you know, having a plan that really counts and having a set of behaviors that continue to be reinforced about what is good and what is not so good about what's going on.
Yeah, absolutely. 700 that it's a small sampling that you worked on to get some impact on the workshops.
I echo all of those points made by Richard. That's the proper involvement of partners in deciding upon the strategy, some commonalities, far as you can get it, about what is the opportunity you're trying to take or what are the problems you're trying to solve, there's those big picture directive questions is crucial people and not least because leadership don't have all the answers and they don't have all of what's going on in the firm, even though they may pretend that that's the case.
Then also back to the point I made earlier when Amanda and James were talking about the importance of personal connection for leadership with those partners. For me, not just in my experience, not just my time, its setting the strategy and the plan, which fits with the strategy.
But continuing from that, one of the things I did when I was senior managing partner, I only had 120 partners to cover, Richard, a cakewalk. And we sit down twice a year with each of those partners, so that was pretty full three to four weeks, twice a year.
So what was that about? It was about. To borrow something from Seth earlier, seeing them paying some respects to them and their knowledge and input. And then being curious about what I might learn, but also (and the sessions were built this way) “I'd like to talk to you about your thoughts about the strategy and what you can contribute.” So people would come along knowing that was the conversation. And immediately, there's reinforcement, and it doesn't seem an odd thing to bring up. There's a pulse in the organization that you talk about these things regularly, not just every three years when you set it. And it was a bit of eye rolling. I've got another conversation with them, but actually there became a continuing conversation which developed the goals
Yeah, and I think that conversation, again, it ties that at personal investment to it, which also, I think, helps drive that success. I know Amanda and I were talking about some particular pieces in this paper and you know, there was a particular area that I know she drew a lot of parallels with and why Stinson has had so much success with their planning program. Amanda, did you want to share that Amanda?
As you know, I'm a huge fan of Heidi Gardner and obviously collaboration in general. But in reading through the article, I think it's page ten, there's a table on there titled Snapshot of Responsibility by Role. And I think we talked a bit about how the plan gets created and who is there to help create the plan. But I think the part about execution is so incredibly important.
And I think, you know, if you look down the sections relating to the responsibilities of those that are the sub-unit heads and the responsibility of those who are the smart collaboration facilitators and those individual partner responsibilities, and I just have to say I lead our team of business development managers and they were really critical in helping with the execution of this. They were the sub unit heads. They were the folks who were clearly outlining the new responsibilities and assigning accountability and keeping our plans top of mind so that people knew what the next steps were, how we were changing so that we could accomplish what was in the new strategic plan.
And I just think that, you know, recognizing the role. Everybody has an individual role throughout the organization and and showing appreciation and making sure that they're all involved and all part of the plan.
Yeah, absolutely, I know one thing that we've heard a lot of feedback from some of our planning users is that when you share something and you share a goal and you share planning, it becomes visible and public. Of course, there's a drive to to make that successful. But I also know some of the feedback we would hear is that partners wouldn't have visibility to what the firm goals actually were. Right. So when you actually can have that that firm plan shared in public and they can see the goals and they can see the updates and they can see people, you know, taking action, even just that visibility, I think, really helps with the connection as well to know, right? What does my firm want to be successful at? How can I help drive that success? What are they doing? So I think visibility is just as key.
Mandy I completely agree with that. And consistent language. There will be some key themes within any strategy or plan and repetition and consistent use of the concepts. It then becomes a powerful code in the organization for what people are trying to achieve.
The extra points like the combination of the relationship, the compensation that the plan itself and Paul, it's interesting you having those conversations because it made me think, Well, what happens if some of these guys aren't on the bus from the beginning, you know, is do you find a way of aligning them to the plan? Do they realize that they may have some skills that can contribute to the plan? And that’s where that relationship is absolutely fundamental to the whole thing being executed.
Oh yeah, yeah. I think farmers recognize if they have strong leaders or leaders that perhaps require some development in some way. But I think a lot of the time that comes out a lot to through this exercise. And I think it's those plans that excite and galvanize that they're very happy. And if those three elements are there and it's a few of them, I think.
Yeah. And I think, you know, kind of going back to the visibility when you do have visibility, whether it's again sharing your goals or sharing a plan, I think with visibility naturally comes some accountability. So I'm curious, you know, what is your philosophy on accountability in these business plans and these strategy plans? In other words, you know, how do you really keep the team focused on those key strategic goals so that, you know, they have this brilliant plan that it actually does go to execution, right? They put in the effort to create this plan. They did their research. You've you've spoken with the team, you've had these meetings. How do you ensure that, you know, they essentially go that last mile, right? So they do see success.
I mean, I can offer you as sort of a rather simple answer to that, which for me is this is just about leadership. You know, the question of accountability for business plans is really not a question that should come up. If you have a challenge in getting accountability, then. I'm pretty confident you have the wrong leaders. Most partners desperately want to be pointed in the right direction. And the confusion comes when nobody's doing that. And when somebody is attempting to corral opinion and create consensus because it's not possible. And and you know, what partners really want is they want they want to feel like they've had input in the culture, which is a process, but they know where they're going and somebody is taking accountability for that direction. You know, they're not that different from humans in all sorts of other walks of life. And I think the challenge for the top teams and firms is to be incredibly robust about the need for high quality leaders across the firm.
And it's a hackneyed thing to say these days. But, you know, causing your top biller to be the leader of the unit is not a good idea. Very often they're not necessarily the best at leaving the teams. But you see it time and time and time again as the way forward. And so I think this whole question of accountability is a pretty simple one. At the end of the day, it's about having people who want to lead to want to lead the team and want to get there and will find ways of going the
extra mile. And that doesn't mean they're going to deliver on the plan every time. And you know, I come from a culture where missing the plan was not a bad thing because we set very brave, aggressive plans. You know, there are plenty of organizations who do the opposite, which is a real problem to miss the plan because the plan was set in an incredibly conservative way. So you have to decide where you are on that risk spectrum. And this is not about ultimately what the outcomes are, but about, you know, the way in which people set about getting there is a leadership question for me.
I agree with that. And then I mean, how does it manifest itself? And there are some key elements, I think, which go to ensuring accountability across the organization or across the board.
Some of them we've mentioned already like the role modeling. Of leadership behaviors that's not aligned with the strategy and the necessary behaviors. Don't confuse the strategy of the behaviors with the target, but if that's not aligned, there's no chance that people will get with it if that leaders aren't role modeling it.
And there is a discipline there of consistency, consistency of message, a focus of repetition. Even though it might seem a little bit boring, one of the things I struggled with was a fear of patronizing members of this bunch of bright people. If I repeated things too often, I now know I could not have repeated things too often. Not because people aren’t intelligent and smart, but because they're busy doing other stuff. And if you can help them with that consistency and clarity, it can go a long way.
The point you were saying earlier, Paul, when you were talking about using consistent language in the plans, right, it seems that same repetition.
Yeah, being consistent with reward and recognition and celebration, not just of financial results, which is one of Richard's points earlier.
And my last point in this section is, I think if leadership can provide the higher the view, the overview, perhaps some insights. And there'll be loads of data. There'll be targets and KPIs and dashboards. All of those are helpful. But if you can try and get beyond that, try and get it to a level of understanding which develops you further, then there can be some real One of the things which occurred to me was why we were very good at planning and tracking our pipeline of new work. And that gave great business visibility, really good business planning in terms of what the financial results would like to be with their forward investment could be. Well, there was another level there when we got beyond, if we said, well, okay, we know we're winning X percent of every opportunity.
But why are we winning? And one question was. Do we win more or if we go to market with colleagues and collaborate and are taken along? Or do we not? And the result was astonishing.
When we went alone as single unit lawyers, we didn't do badly. We won about a third of the opportunities. When we were introduced by and taken along and went as an integrated team with colleagues, we won nine out of ten opportunities. Yeah. Suddenly everybody goes, Wow. I think that there's some leadership input that, Richard, into the kind of questions you should ask to get the right data.
Yeah, and I think I think just on that point about data and where were you on the latest focus you on them focused on the market and what clients are saying about demand and the kinds of things that really matter. So that's a really interesting metric. Actually, Allen Overy has a very similar model where they've proved to their partners that it's the international network that drives profitability. If you get more than three offices in an engagement, you make more money.
And that's been consistently demonstrated by them. But it's also, I think, the point the purpose of leadership, part of what they have to be doing is saying, how are we doing relative to the states of the market if we're performing really well? Is that because all boats are rising on the tide or is it because we are taking share? You know, we've got a situation right now where there are not many law firms having a bad time. This is a pretty good time to be a law firm.
But I was working with a firm last week who are not doing as well as the rest of the market. They're doing OK, but compared to where they are and you know, they have a managing partner who's prepared to call that because he can see what's happening out there in the market.
And I think back to this whole question of data, whether it's in planning or in execution. The thing that leaders have to bring to the table is the market. Sullivan said to me that their own planning process had had previously been unencumbered by fact, and most most buying processes tend to be massively over encumbered by internal data sets. And there isn't sufficient from the outside. And I think continually we just have to be pushing on what is the market looking like? That means that those roles have to be very client engaged. They can't be internal processes.
That's what I was going to ask Richard and James. The extent to which regular client conversations inform the plan on the goals.
Yeah, I think we're definitely seeing. I would say more of a focus on client relationships. A lot of firms will have their own internal team now that will perform, you know, client feedback. How are we doing? How can we help you grow? You know, how can we be better in the coming year? And whether that's done again with someone internally who has that role within the firm or whether they'll work with an external consultant to do that, there is a lot of value in getting that client feedback and often what they'll do is once you have your client go through this exercise right, you're having them invest time with you taking that feedback. And we're actually seeing people make those as part of their key client goals. Right? So the client said this, we want to take that and make it a smart, you know, measurable goal that's now visible and we can take action on. So I think we're definitely seeing that becoming part of part of the planning process.
The way that planning processes come together. I think it's very important for leadership to be capable of providing a top down for you on where they think the focus needs to be. So, you know, it's a lot of this conversation which I agree with, which is about having strong bottom up engagement of the partners, but there also has to be a view on where the best opportunities are. And you know, I think most firms engage in that, but it's often engaged in it in very broad strokes. You know, it's this sector or it's this whole practice group.
And I think what's what's what's so incredibly valuable here is to get down the level and be much more granular about where those opportunities are and where you're prepared to put investment behind and to think about which bits the business are going to be, you know, perfectly good parts of the business, very profitable but pretty steady on which areas could really drive growth through the right kind of investment. And of course, that has to come from those partner groups themselves. The leadership also has to be in a position to make a judgment as to whether what's coming up is right. You know, there are definitely cases where teams will not put forward this at the right level of ambition for the kind of markets they're in. And so that top down, bottom up feature, this is very important.
Yeah. I also want to circle back. Amanda had mentioned in one of our early sessions here that as part of the planning process, she encourages her team to use universal search feature, right? And that's something where, you know, there's no magic no magic paper button so that you can identify where that overlay or those synergies are, so that you can, you know, go in with the team, you know, and and expand the number of package scripts. They're serving a client right to being able to look in.
And I think that's something that's really critical is, you know, the firm's greatest asset is their attorneys, right? It's their expertise, it's their knowledge base. And when you can start looking across all of those plans and start having the collaboration introductions come. I think that's really, really an important piece as well. Amanda, did you want to try? Did I get that right?
Well, I'll just add to that, Mandy, you know, in addition to the firm's greatest asset being our attorneys, it's also the relationships that we have, its relationships with our clients, its relationships with other attorneys, its internal relationships among our staff. And I think, you know, when we went into this virtual environment, everyone is saying, you know, how did you stay in a collaborative environment? How did you stay in touch with each other? And I think, you know, my answer to that is that we really didn't have to shift gears much.
I mean, for years now, we've been encouraging attorneys to utilize objective manager for that collaboration to understand the relationships that we have, you know, with other prospective clients and within each other. And so, you know, objective manager was really a catalyst for helping us to stay connected, you know, through this pandemic and through this virtual work environment.
And so I mean, I feel like we're sort of ahead of the curve with a lot of firms in terms of, you know, really staying in touch and continuing to build on those relationships.
Yeah, absolutely. Having that visibility, I think and seeing just having the opportunities for collaboration visible that right, oh, you're going after this particular client, I know that person, let's connect, right? So just having not that easy way again, as I said, to connect the dots, I think really does break, you know, break down those silos, right? Let's have that collaboration start working. You know, so we know we know how you guys didn't necessarily have to pivot too much, right? With that if the new hybrid because he already had that technology in place. You know, I guess Richard and Paul, what are you guys seeing? Just kind of kind of out there as far as how our firms pivoting with the fact that you're not having the conversation, you know, walking back from the office or from the courthouse, how are you seeing, you know, people really work to keep collaboration and those conversations going?
My take on this is, you know, I think you have to recognize that collaboration is not by definition going to happen just because you're in the office. And I think firms tend to, he said. While generalization trends tend to overstate the amount of effective collaboration there is within their organizations. And actually, I think, maybe partly the way Amanda is describing, what what we've all just been through for the last 18 months is starting to cause people to think very hard about how they structure the way they work to promote collaboration, where that is valuable, by the way, sometimes that isn't valuable when it is valuable and how you make that happen. And I think firms are really at the early stages of thinking about that. Know there's a huge amount of discussion, dialog, and thinking going on to the extent to which firms are going to insist or are insisting on their people being back in the office for a certain amount of time or not.
And that's as much about managing partners and COOs being worried about real estate standing empty than about what's the best way to work. And I think we're only just starting to see firms really think about what collaboration means in this environment. One of the things that just finished close on this, one of the things always strikes me about law firms relative to my old world is that in this whole question of collaboration, there is one venue that law firms don't pay much attention to, and that is being at a client.
So, you know, I've spent my entire career providing services in the client’s building with my team members, whereas in law firms, that is much rarer and it's much more likely that you would be in your own offices or now at home. And I think that's something that firms really should think about as they emerge again into the real world. How can they spend more time as teams collaborating in and with their clients?
Absolutely. While we have, you know, just I think 40 seconds left, I could chat with you guys for another 45 minutes. So thank you so much for making this just such a great session. I appreciate all of your input, you being part of, you know, the changing lawyers summit today. And, you know, thank you very much.
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