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EM Lawshare Conference

31 March 2023

The EMLS conference was hosted for the EM Lawshare consortium members on 2 March 2023.  This event proved a lovely chance to meet up in person at last with some new faces as well as bumping into contacts from much further afield and, dare I say it without revealing quite how far back, from further back in my career when I worked in the East Midlands as a commercial lawyer.

With a theme of 'Reset, Refocus and Reconnect', the event provided a great opportunity to hear from a wide variety of speakers as well as to provide my own input for one of the breakout workshops.  I joined forces with the Head of Legal Project Management, Paul McCannah, from Browne Jacobson to present our collective insight on how organisations can drive efficiencies through legal project management and transformation of their legal operations.

Since I took off my commercial partner hat a couple of years ago now and moved to the exciting new law environment, I am often struck by how collegiate and collaborative this space is and working with Paul absolutely continued this experience.  I like to think our respective passion for our areas of expertise came to the fore, giving our audience not only a feel for the tools and methodologies they could think about deploying, but also sharing some war stories of lessons learnt along the way.

A recurring theme through the day proved to be the challenges over retention and recruitment that many organisations are feeling right now.  As the earlier panel had discussed in depth, our workshop also focused on how the increased salaries and pressure in a hot recruitment market are consistently driving the need across all sectors to improve retention of legal team staff.

Our contribution to this issue, from a legal transformation and project management perspective, is highlighted by the benefits in staff motivation by changing our ways of working for the more efficient.  By re-categorizing workloads, designing a more granular triage process and using technology where appropriate, staff can be kept motivated by being able to focus on the better quality work they came into the job to do, instead of feeling bogged down by the tedious and mundane.  We can only work to standardize and systematize our legal workflows, though, when we understand them better.  Taking the time to do the legwork around process mapping and finding the opportunities for improvement always pays dividends in the grand scheme of things.

Lessons learnt from the project management world are key when we consider the importance of the 'Discover and Define' stages of any good transformation project.  After all, there's no points to be gained from introducing a great technology solution only to realize it's solving someone else's problem rather than yours.  

In essence the key messages I took away from our sessions and the day more generally are:

  1. Spend as much time understanding and defining the problem as seeking to solve it:
  2. Good communication and involvement of stakeholders is key to any good project; and
  3. Governance and audit trails are supported by the key project management tools – they're not there to obstruct, but to protect and manage a project after all.

If you would like assistance in thinking about how to get started on a journey of transforming your legal function, contact Emma Roe, our Head of Legal Operations Consultancy (UK) to share some of those war stories and lessons learnt before you start.

Further Reading