Lauren Watson, Director of Legal Partnerships at Legl, talks to The Ortus Club’s Luis Macabulos about the challenges currently facing the legal sector as well as the importance of change management and client-centricity.
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Can you give us a one-sentence summary of your company?
At Legl, we help law firms succeed in a digital-first world, so our solution is very much geared towards helping law firms deliver a delightful, best-in-class client experience.
Can you describe the of role a Director of Legal Partnerships in one word? Why?
I chose the word ‘collaboration’ and that’s because at the centre of my job is helping law firms affect change management within their businesses and adopt a client-centric mindset. I was going to choose ‘problem-solver’, which was a sort of hyphenated one-word answer, but I changed it to ‘collaboration’ because ultimately, solving problems and challenges in law firms is really directly linked to a collaborative approach.
What current challenges are Directors of Legal Partnerships facing right now? Can you identify a solution?
Linked to the collaboration piece and what I just mentioned is change management. Law firms have a very typical, traditional structure and over the last 18 months, there’s been a real shift in terms of adoption and technology. What I think the key challenge in the legal sector at the moment is fostering a client-centric mindset across the whole business. That does involve a degree of change management, which can be really hard to get right, so I think one of the key challenges at the moment is effectively managing change within law firms and collaborating with law firms, technology suppliers, and law firm industry networks—organisations that really specialise in consulting to the legal profession to bring about change together.
“What I think the key challenge in the legal sector at the moment is fostering a client-centric mindset across the whole business. That does involve a degree of change management, which can be really hard to get right.”
How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?
So I would credit the success that I’ve had, genuinely, to how passionate I am about the legal industry. I really think that there’s a huge opportunity for change in the legal sector more generally. I’m very passionate about access to legal services and access to justice, and I do feel that there’s a huge opportunity for that access to be dramatically improved.
I think that technology can play a really fundamental role there. I would attribute my success to the passion and drive to affect change in an industry that I think could be improved to benefit your everyday people and businesses so they can get quick and effective legal advice and work with lawyers who understand the evolving expectations around adopting a digital-first approach.
Can you tell us about a time you took a major risk in your career?
After studying law for 5 years, I decided that I didn’t actually want to be a lawyer, so that was quite a big moment of realisation. I think the key thing was that I knew that I really wanted to work in the legal sector, I just didn’t necessarily want to be a lawyer. I was really passionate about the intersection between law and technology.
So, I think the biggest risk that I took in my career was just honing in on what it was exactly that I wanted to do and then just pursuing it very ambitiously. I would say it was a big hurdle to make the decision, after studying for a really long time, that you don’t actually want to pursue what you originally thought you wanted to pursue.
That being said, I think it’s about identifying what you want to do and getting very comfortable with really just going head-on to try and figure out how you can really do the job that you’re really passionate about doing. I think that that probably is the biggest risk that I’ve ever taken.
How can you see your role evolving in the next two to three years?
As I mentioned before, the legal industry has seen a huge amount of change over the last 18 months, so I would anticipate that that pace of change will continue and that’s really down to the expectations from clients. Whether your client is an individual or a business, their expectations around being able to pay online, instruct lawyers remotely, and, frankly, do everything from the comfort of their own home, is really going to fundamentally shift the way that law firms, in particular, do business.
So, I think the way the role is going to evolve is very much actually just furthering and creating really deep partnerships with law firms to help them through that mindset shift towards adopting a client-centric approach. Once that kind of philosophical shift to put the client at the centre of everything you do has happened, it creates a great framework for change and collaboration within the industry.
I think if I were to pick one thing, I would say that is probably how the role is going to evolve in the sense that it is going to be all about furthering relationships and creating deep partnerships with industry players with law firms themselves, with consultants to make sure that we can really affect change in the industry.
What career advice would you like to share with Directors of Legal Partnership?
I’ve said this already but be really passionate about what you’re doing and don’t ever lose that kind of curiosity to know more about the businesses that you work with, the industry that you work in, the pace of change in terms of technology, and how to better manage change management.
I think as long as you never lose that curiosity to always know more, be better, and create better relationships, you’ll be successful in whatever it is you do. I do think that being really passionate about the mission behind the company that you work for and making sure that that aligns with your personal values as well is really key to success.