Sep 2022
What Legal Skills Can Lawyers Learn from Other Industries

CPD and training run through any legal career like ‘kiss me quick’ runs through a stick of rock. We’d go so far as to say that lawyers are usually pretty good at keeping their legal knowledge up to date with CPD courses, seminars and networking events. But, here at Carbon Law Partners, we encourage our lawyers to approach things a bit differently. Having been inspired by the financial services sector to reimagine our own model, we are firm believers in looking outside the legal industry for inspiration and learning.  

So, what legal skills can lawyers learn from other industries? 

Let’s start with retail.

Building relationships  

Ever heard the phrase,‘the customer is always right’? Well we believe that this is true. The client is the reason we do our jobs after all and other industries – in particular retail and hospitality – recognise that. We’re not saying that every suggestion your clients bring to the table is correct. But we are saying that their motivation for doing so, their objectives and what they want to achieve are. And that has to be the starting point for any great legal relationship.

Next… let’s look at accountancy.

Being smart with numbers 

This one is simple. Make sure the numbers add up. You have to be making money, plain and simple. A client can be an important client based on billable hours – but just how profitable is the retainer? 

Taking risks 

Ok… we’re going to jump in with both feet now. A word not often associated with lawyers is risk. This is where they can stand to learn a thing or two from investment bankers.

Shifting away from the conservative cautiousness can be a good thing. Giving options to clients should vary from ‘fail safe’ to ‘risky’.  A lawyer’s job is to assess the risks. What is the chance that the risk will arise? And are you really going to stand in your client’s way when they have all the facts? A little risk can go a long way. It isn’t called the risk versus reward scale for nothing.  

Let’s take a look at manufacturing next.

Streamlining communications 

Toyota famously popularised waste elimination in manufacturing. They worked out what they were doing, how they were doing it and how they could save time, material and money. We know that legal work isn’t the same as manufacturing. But, it is a process. And the same approach could massively enrich your client relationships, profitability and understanding of risk versus reward (see what we did there?). For example, lawyers can save time by not copying everybody in on emails and seeking approval for every small change. Streamline your communications and you’ll be amazed at the extra time you can dedicate to other things. 

Legal tech is not a new concept. Since the turn of the century, there has been an emergence of legal tech designed to increase efficiency and free up lawyers from basic tasks. But going beyond this to learn from technology use in other sectors isn’t something lawyers do, naturally.  

Embracing technology  

One industry that has embraced technology with open arms is retail banking. Consider the last time you popped into your local branch. No bank tellers or written records. You can cash cheques into a machine, take out loans online, transfer money with a touch of a button. Or, how about the number of banks that don’t even have branches, offering customers apps and chat functions that deliver immediate information and service? Everything is automated now. The old fashioned view of banks is long gone. And this is just in the last 20-30 years.  

The challenge for lawyers is that this is rapidly becoming the benchmark by which other services are measured. Customers don’t understand why their bank (which is in an equally regulated sector) can do it when their lawyers don’t. There are certainly some aspects of legal work that could adopt this approach. Processes that could be streamlined to save time. The possibilities are endless, from CRM solutions to software that helps with drafting and proofing. 

A new wave of legal entrepreneurs are riding the technology surge, adapting, overcoming and innovating. They are moving with the times. But the sector at large should take a leaf out of the financial services industry. They are on a continual journey when it comes to digital transformation, leveraging the latest innovations to provide a superior service to their customers. We need to do the same in the legal industry.  

In the same way, the client care and productivity standards set by other sectors are becoming the benchmarks we expect across all areas of our lives. Why should legal services require epic amounts of paperwork and slow, inflexible processes? In the same way that (most) lawyers have moved away from using Latin, so the time has come to learn from other industries and develop the legal services offering. Picking and choosing aspects that work well in other sectors and adopting them into everyday legal practice. It’s time to work smarter, improve technical skills for lawyers, and use today’s capabilities to your advantage.  

How does Carbon factor into all of this?  

Here at Carbon, we have created a platform that aligns the interests of clients, lawyers, staff and suppliers. A place not constrained by the traditional law firm ways of doing things. 

This means: 

  • Equity. We provide our lawyers and people with the opportunity to own a share of the firm, sharing in collective success. 
  • Quality. We set the bar high when it comes to delivering outstanding quality to clients, backed up by external auditors who do spot checks.  
  • Community. We work as a community, collaborating and lifting each other up on our own journeys.  

The Carbon platform provides the foundations and legal skills that breakaway lawyers need to build their practice on. This includes everything from support on remuneration, technology and finance through to marketing, administration and training. If you’re a legal professional wanting to break the mould, then contact us today and find out how.