Month: March 2019

The Stanley & Co. Lawyers team believe in law done differently. It’s an approach we love here at Kiikstart – and one we reflect through our own work. Today we chat with Partner Amra Sabou about her career, starting Stanley & Co, and how the company is shaking up the legal space.

When and how was Stanley & Co. born?
My fellow Partner Rich and I were working at another law firm together. In early 2016, we decided to go out on our own. We could see so much scope for improvement from the traditional model. Our clients weren’t really happy, but it wasn’t because we were doing a bad job; it was mainly because of the fee structure. In July 2016 we set up shop and decided that, to the extent we could, we’d be a “new law” law firm.

What sets your approach apart?
Our main points of difference are that we’re approachable, we’re client-focused and we have fixed fees. Our clients have direct access to us and they have our mobile numbers. Our view is that we’re regular people doing a regular job, and we want our clients to feel comfortable. We don’t sit behind big, expensive mahogany desks where you have to go through multiple secretaries and personal assistants to get to us. We’ll explain things to our clients so they understand. Why would you do it any other way? Our clients are important to us.

What areas of law do you service?
We work in four main areas: family & divorce, wills & estates, commercial & business, and criminal & traffic. My main areas are family and wills, while Rich mainly works across commercial and criminal.

Where did your career in law begin and why do you enjoy practising?
My first law job was in a community legal centre that was set up to provide legal services to those who can’t afford private legal representation. It was a great first experience. I was the managing lawyers’ right hand person and it was a very broad role, so I got a lot of experience early on that I wouldn’t have had elsewhere.

I also love the business aspect of what I do. I’ve always found myself doing a lot of running the business from recruitment, to marketing, not just the legal work. I do enjoy having that variety because that puts me in a position where I can make changes. In turn, this ultimately creates a better client experience.

The idea of fixed fee pricing seems very foreign in the legal space. What has the response been like to this model?
We rarely get issues with fees with our clients because we don’t follow the traditional billing method. We also find that our client relationships are far better because we’ve taken away the fees and they’re the main burden for clients. It means they’re free to call us, email us and talk to us a lot more. We’re able to give our clients a better service because we actually get to know them and they get to know us better.

It makes working with a lawyer more accessible because in family matters we often fix our fees up until the end of the first hearing. So the clients know exactly how much it’s going to cost, and have confidence that at least up until the end of the first hearing their legal fees are sorted.

Do you think you’re debunking a lot of the stereotypes about lawyers?
People are so pleasantly surprised when they come here, which is really nice. I get the greatest joy out of my job when the clients are happy. Everyone has different parts of their job that get them going, but for me it’s the sense of relief on clients’ faces. I think they really do see the benefit of using us. Most of the time it’s the first experience they’ve had with a lawyer, so we want it to be a positive one.

When did you meet Kiikstart’s Director, Ali, and what synergies have you found in your approach to business?
I came across Ali at a Power of More event – a women’s networking event. She was talking about her business really passionately and how if we do things the same way, nothing will change. It was music to my ears. Many lawyers are set in their ways and don’t know much about client marketing and relationship marketing. That, and lawyers just aren’t affordable. I truly believe that if lawyers keep doing the same thing they’re doing, they’ll go bust. So what Ali had to say really resonated with me.

Where we do business, who we do business with, and how we work are all changing. The rise of the gig or sharing economy – and the burgeoning success of apps like Uber and Airbnb – is creating a new breed of workers.

In this new economy middle man roles are eliminated or diminished, and people have no set hours or ongoing commitments.

Contractor life might sound great, but there is a degree of uncertainty that comes with not knowing how much you’ll make week to week.

Despite some of the obvious downsides – like no employee benefits – it’s estimated that some 150 million workers in North America and Europe are working as independent contractors – and the success of tech service platforms like Uber are at least partly credited with this transition.

But what challenges and opportunities does the gig economy present for leaders? Here are four key areas I’ve identified that need attention.

Staff Retention
As many of the best and brightest shift to working for themselves, staff retention will be a big challenge for companies. Team continuity is highly desirable, but a report by McKinsey recently found that “knowledge-intensive industries and creative occupations are the largest and fastest-growing segments of the freelance economy”. One potential solution? Adopting a startup mentality, often characterised by a culture of idea sharing. Creating a mission-driven culture where there is room for innovation and experimentation will help to keep your team engaged – and benefit your business.

Embrace Technology for Good
Technology – and especially mobile technology – is a major element of this new ‘gig’ economy, but leaders should be discerning about how, why and when a business will use technology. The end goal should not be digital disruption, but the enhancement of the end-to-end customer experience. The imperative to use technology to improve efficiencies should be balanced against the need for quality human connections. Leaders will need to reflect on the end-to-end consumer experience to a greater extent and ensure a client-centric model underpins all interactions. Ask: What opportunities do we offer for personal connection with our consumer? Stakeholder feedback will be critical too.

Innovation Isn’t Just an App
New technologies are an important aspect of modern workplaces, but they’re only part of the story. While uberisation – defined as “a different way of buying or using [a service], especially using mobile technology” – has its place, it isn’t relevant to all people and all businesses who want to use a service. Leaders must keep their target consumers’ needs front of mind, and can also consider some of the other ways to innovate as a business. Co-creation, waste minimisation and partnerships are some of the ways companies can implement innovative practices into their business. You can also check out this article I wrote recently about nine innovative consumer trends.

Accept the Pace
The pace of change is perhaps one of the biggest challenges for businesses across the board. In 2019 artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), apps, drones, and advanced robotics have all become mainstream tech vernacular. Allocating and respecting the time and resources needed to think creatively as a business is essential. Leaders must accept that continuous innovation in business is no longer a choice. And continual review and assessment will be vital to getting it right.

As consumers, the gig economy means more choice and greater convenience than ever before. But, more than ever, businesses and leaders must ensure that you bring your team and customers along for the ride. This means balancing the need for fast-paced innovation against cultural considerations, and constantly assessing our end-to-end experience from both a technological and human experience perspective.­