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GCs: Covid-19 has showcased lawyers’ adaptability

Dillon: Lawyers need to be digitally creative

Many aspects of the adaptability shown by lawyers during the Covid-19 crisis should stand them in good stead in future dealings with clients, it has been claimed.

It came with the results of a survey that showed lawyers must be customer-focused, adaptable and creative to meet the expectations of general counsel (GC).

Speaking at the Legal Geek online conference, solicitor Lucy Dillon, the chief knowledge officer of global law firm Reed Smith, said the adaptability showcased during lockdown should be carried on in future.

In-house counsel want to work with lawyers who have rounded competencies and not just legal knowledge, she said.

The GC-led group her firm had been working with that did the survey developed 12 desirable attributes, including being adaptable, building relationships and collaborating effectively.

GC’s wanted a “customer-focused people lawyer”, Ms Dillon said. They needed to show empathy and be resilient.

Remote working during the lockdown meant the “professional veneer we pride ourselves in [has been] broken down by the situation we are in” and relationships on a much more personal level had been created.

People she had dealt with were “looking at my kitchen, [while] I’ve looked at [their] dining room”.

She went on: “We are so much more intimately involved with who we are working with now because we have met their children, dogs and cats; we have heard the Amazon delivery person arrive.”

She said it was also vital that lawyers gave “great value through legal initiatives”, meaning problem-solving in a way that was of the most value to clients. They had done this during lockdown and she hoped the practice would stay with them.

It was key too that lawyers were “digitally creative”, which meant looking at technology inside and outside their firm to see how things could be done better. This was “really important for both private practice lawyers and in-house lawyers to adapt to”.

Ms Dillon advised: “You need to continually educate yourself and create those relationships with providers and teams that can help. Get to know those people.”

Lastly, she said it was important that lawyers knew when “good enough is good enough”. Lawyers could be perfectionist but actually should be aiming for 60% or 70%. “The client love to be involved in that last 30%. Get a solution out there that can be perfected over time.”