Industry analysis

Industry analysis

How to thrive in a hybrid work environment

Guy Adams, leader of the legal industry group at Intapp, discusses leveraging an industry cloud to build a connected firm that benefits its people and clients in a more dispersed working world

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Two years ago, when Covid-19 threw the world into upheaval overnight, nobody could have imagined the sustained impacts. The pandemic fundamentally changed how lawyers and legal professionals perform their jobs — and what they expect from their employers.

Having proved that they can be as productive at home as they were in the office — in some cases, more so — people now expect flexible work accommodations. Subsequently, firms that aren’t offering hybrid and full-remote options find themselves at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and retaining talent.

Employers that offer flexible work accommodations benefit from reduced operating costs, an expanded talent pool, and more opportunities to acquire novel specialisations and skillsets, while expanding the firm’s geographic footprint to support growth initiatives.

Attracting and retaining talent

With the exceedingly tight talent market at play, the industry is experiencing skyrocketing attrition rates, resulting in a talent war. To win over millennial and ‘Generation Z’ talent — who often prioritise work-life balance, diversity, and social responsibility — forward-thinking firms are modernising work-location policies and investing in diversity, inclusion and social responsibility programmes to attract and retain this talent pool.

Concurrently, the legal industry is witnessing the emergence of a significant constituency of legal talent that no longer wants to work in person in a big-city location. Having proved the viability of the remote model, legal talent is flocking to the suburbs and smaller cities, intending to work in their home offices permanently — savvy firms are supporting their life choices.

Building a hybrid work environment that supports growth

Although the pandemic intensified everyone’s sense of detachment and frustration resulting from working through videoconferencing screens, strategic technology investments that connect your people, processes and data help to ameliorate these sentiments. Feeling connected to colleagues, and successful in your work, are key drivers of job satisfaction.

Firms that aren’t offering hybrid and full-remote options find themselves at a competitive disadvantage for attracting and retaining talent

With widespread mandates in place to expand firms into new geographies, industries and specialisations, moving mission-critical technology to the cloud is key to successful connectivity. Without cloud-based solutions, firms struggle with the data silos that plague on-premises software and drag down productivity. Conversely, providing firm-wide access to a centralised data repository, using cloud-based solutions customised for the needs of the legal industry, helps your firm to achieve the benefits associated with collaborating at scale across locations.

Strengthening client relationships with high-touch service

Much as with your staff, your clients have experienced unprecedented disruption — both personally and professionally. This provides your firm with the opportunity to strengthen client relationships by simply listening. How has the pandemic impacted their business, and how can your firm help to solve their challenges?

Forward-thinking firms are actively probing clients about what keeps them up at night, exploring ways that they can help to relieve persistent frustrations. Some are hiring expert communicators to manage client relationships, launching market research-style programmes to improve client service, and leading discussions on topics important to the client base, such as around diversity.

Other firms are implementing new-client onboarding programmes, which typically includes a videoconference call staffed by the marketing and business development team to build a meaningful connection that persists beyond the intake process. All in all, firms are doing whatever it takes to meet clients where they are and to strengthen relationships through enhanced partnership, communication and service.

Transforming data into competitive advantage

At Intapp, we say it all the time: firm-wide access to a single truth drawn from multi-sourced data serves as the hallmark of the connected firm. When your firm is truly connected, you’re in a great position to improve every aspect of performance. It all starts with pulling data out of discrete on-premises data repositories.

The first problem with data silos is the people silos they inevitably create. If your firm can’t connect its data and provide firm-wide access to a centralised source, your departments and practice groups effectively operate as fiefdoms.

Disconnected data also impedes growth initiatives, especially as it relates to the advantages of collaborating at scale. As your firm develops new specialisations and expands into new geographies, it’s significantly harder to support a successful rollout without connected cloud-based technologies that support a broadly distributed workforce.

Data silos can prevent your people from accessing the same data in real time, meaning it’s more difficult to get stakeholders onto the same page for decision-making. The resulting inertia ultimately leads to lost opportunities and competitive disadvantage.

Moving forward

Accommodating pandemic-driven lifestyle shifts – and supporting employees with strategic technology investments – improves employee retention and keeps firms on track with the staffing levels they need to succeed with growth initiatives.

Firms already building the data infrastructure required to successfully compete in a post-pandemic business environment – and embracing next-generation technologies in so doing – are setting themselves up to grow at a steep trajectory and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage.

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