Tips on How to Motivate and Manage a LegalTech Team

Anyone who tells you that technology, especially artificial intelligence (AI), isn’t going to have a significant impact on almost every industry isn’t clued-up and, quite frankly, shouldn’t be trusted. There is no denying that advancements in the tech space are already changing the way many companies go about doing business. In fact, as you finish reading this sentence, there’s probably a company that’s implemented a tech-driven process or product that is setting them apart from their competitors. The legal industry is certainly no exception to this rapid evolution.

As the Chief Information Officer at LAW FOR ALL, I have been tasked and challenged with managing and inspiring a development team within the quickly evolving LawTech and LegalTech space. Our goal is to help a leading legal services provider stay at the forefront of their industry by ensuring the technical and digital processes that increase their efficiency and output are up to date and, more importantly, evolving with the times. Over the years, I have been blessed to have been involved in two multi-million-rand projects. And with each project, not only did our software ecosystem and tech-stack increase but so did our staff compliment and overall operational complexity.

Naturally, the above-mentioned comes with a unique set of challenges, and the fact that my team and I don’t have legal backgrounds might seem like an unconquerable hurdle, but inexperience in the field isn’t a problem at all. Let me unpack some of the challenges and solutions I have encountered and implemented.

Building a Development Team: Attracting and Retaining Talent

Undoubtedly, a challenge hidden within our search for talent is the fact that software developers don’t yet recognise LawTech and LegalTech as an exciting opportunity – especially when compared to FinTech or joining an emerging technology startup. I have had my fair share of declined interviews for this very reason. Becoming aware of this has shaped the way I interview, hire and ultimately manage candidates (I will delve into this a little deeper just now). Once I have a team in place, the focus then shifts to not only getting the work done but ensuring there’s enough acknowledgement, opportunity and incentive to stay in the somewhat uncharted territory of LegalTech and LawTech. My approach to retention is two-fold: fostering a healthy working culture and regular unfiltered check-ins. It’s all about bringing out the best in your team.

stanley-greenwood-law-for-all

How to Get the Most from Your Team of Developers

People are the magic… Yes, I know, right! Most successful people share this sentiment, and multiple management and leadership books state this as a fact. You may argue that “your” coworkers are different and that you face various barriers, not to mention your un-accommodating company culture.

As an employee (or even business owner) you are mandated to help the business grow, improve its position within its ecosystem and deliver value to the business’s customers and key partners. The days of working strictly according to your job specification are quickly and adamantly coming to an end. If you still see barriers between you and other areas of the business, you need to reframe your thinking and rather quickly. I encourage you to challenge your own assumptions and the narrative in your head, preventing you from stepping outside the “lines”. I personally only practiced this after it was first modelled to me by my co-workers and manager but please don’t repeat my mistake, you will be wasting your own valuable time.

Practically, this can be done by considering and implementing three behaviours:

  1. Create a healthy environment/atmosphere

From experience and observation, most people want to be part of a team, feel that their work matters and they want their immediate work area to support them in reaching their responsibilities. This is a broad topic and can range from adding some lights and plants to a room to workshopping a shared values word cloud and displaying it on the wall. You need to pay attention to others environment and listen to them verbally and visually, as some people don’t always know what is possible. A few years back our department established its own “Team Alliance” (aka values) – respect, cleanliness, humanity, reliability, passion, fun, transparency, humility and accountability – allowing us to keep each other accountable as we work as unique individuals. I encourage my team to work on projects that excite them and to think beyond their current role, expecting them to voice their desired career direction as well as how they would like to achieve it. We operate within a thin hierarchy where there is no room for ego, and the best idea wins. Decision- making is shared, and everyone is expected to contribute verbally.

  1. Absolute truth versus ambiguity

You need to remove ambiguity by continually seeking the absolute truth. This behaviour means taking the time to understand how you work daily. Your activities, the tasks you perform, why you achieve them, and how they add value. If you are unsure on either of these, you need to start asking questions to your managers and employees, not within your circle. You ask questions to understand the status quo better. Only then you can challenge your assumptions, remove ambiguity, understand the truth (origin) and start making suggestions on improving or even stopping a unit of work. Remember, only dead fish go with the flow. You have the absolute right to understanding the work you do from A to Z.

  1. Encourage failure, practice humility

You are only one person, and the truth is, you have good and not-so-good characteristics or quirks… so to speak – and this is okay! Embracing this, moves you one step closer to handing off work that you are not good at and asking for work you are good at and actually like doing. For most of us this behaviour is displayed by delegating work – the work you know someone else can do better. Now, remember not only to consider those employees available to you but considering everyone working within the company. Now, this goes both ways, if someone else is doing work, you find fun and excites you, talk to the right person and ask for it.

Having the courage to ask for something you want means you need to be vulnerable and move outside your comfort zone. Delegating and allowing others to make a mistake or achieve success – even if this reflects negatively on you or positively on them – is where the magic lies.

Practising these behaviours is liberating and moves you forward by forcing you to make mistakes, make connections and understanding what your business is fundamentally about.

Don’t Forget the People as the Tech Evolves

Of course, there is going to be pressure- as a leader- to not only be aware of all the developments but also finding ways to implement to best suit the company. And that is when you might lose sight of people and their humanity. One thing I have learnt is to not only seek out but also understand, and respect is the curve balls life throws everyone as we go about our work week-in and week-out. Giving your best at work does not mean being perfect. Waiting, repeating and pushing yourself (or co-workers) to perfect a piece of work is often a waste of time and causes unnecessary friction. Stay focused, sensitive and genuine. You will find your way in the industry in no time.

By Stanley Greenwood, LAW FOR ALL’s Chief Information Officer.

Tipping the Scales: Creating an Inclusive Workplace for Women in Law

by Adv Jackie Nagtegaal – Managing Director at LAW FOR ALL

I had the great fortune of being raised by a working mom who championed equality in all sectors of society. She was an intersectional feminist, way before it was in vogue or I even knew what it meant.

Growing up with that privilege, I landed in the world of law, bright-eyed, expecting the industry to shine on the principles my mother (also a lawyer) taught me. But I quickly learnt things were not as rosy as I perceived them to be.

The reality for women in the legal industry in South Africa

Gender inequality is one of the most complex issues of our time. It is a tradition that persists and thrives in post-apartheid South Africa even- somewhat ironically- in the country’s legal landscape. It doesn’t make sense to me that an institution that’s in place to enforce the ideals of fairness and equality perpetuates the discrimination that it should be fighting.


Under-representation in senior positions

Over the last 25 years, more women have chosen a career in the law, but from courtrooms to boardrooms, they are still severely underrepresented. From the number of women in the Constitutional Court has remained unchanged: two in 1994 and two in 2014; while the percentage of women in the other High Courts remains below 30%. Not to mention, the Commission for Gender Equality recently canvassed 12 of the country’s biggest firms and found that 80% of the chief executives were white men, as were 72% of the managing partners.


Laws that perpetuate sexism

The architecture of our economy and households have changed, but the legal minds who have to evolve the rules and regulations whereby we live have not kept up with this shift. Male perspective still dramatically influences the law. As a result, we run the risk of creating rules that don’t match the playing field. For instance, take the Basic Conditions of Employment Act, which sees parental leave still being a responsibility that rests significantly on women. Inequality has a dire effect on their careers and the gender equality gap in the workplace.


Sexual harassment in law firms

After the #MeToo became a trending topic on social media and a movement around the world, the prevalence of sexual harassment in various sectors was exposed. Sadly, the legal industry is no exception. According to Business Insider, almost half (the exact figure is 43%) of women legal professionals have experienced sexual harassment at work.

What’s the problem? Where’s the disconnect?

If you ask a man, the answer will often be something along the lines of women ‘being insufficiently rational and too intellectually inferior’ to be litigators and handle the pressures of a career in law. But, when you are asking a man, you are, more often than not, posing the question to the seemingly impenetrable wall of patriarchy. A barrier that’s built of bricks of ignorance and solidified by sexist perceptions. It’s the wall that contains and conceals the rampant gender inequality that still exists today.

When company culture normalises the objectification of women colleagues and perpetuates the absurd idea that women attorneys are more efficient on cases ‘that women can relate to’, it institutionalises discrimination. Not to mention, we have to apply an intersectional lens to create awareness around the added discrimination experienced by African and queer women.

Sexism can be super subliminal. It is always there, but only if you want to see it. A lot like race. If you’re white, racism passes you by. You don’t notice the slight shift in attitude, the white establishments with black workers, the black-only workforce picking up garbage, cleaning houses and doing the ‘invisible’ jobs. You only see it if you care to look.

Shifting paradigms and breaking the tradition at LAW FOR ALL

Just the other day, after a meeting, a male executive asked me to “relax” on the issue of gender equality because “it’s not a thing anymore; women have rights”. But that is only true for some women in some places. Many women around the world are excluded from education, commerce, and participating in democratic processes.

But even in countries such as South Africa, we need theoretical gender equality to become practical gender equality, and we can only achieve this if institutions uphold and implement the true values of our Constitution and take a wrecking ball to the patriarchal wall. As a leader, I resolved to collaborate with my teams to make the LAW FOR ALL a place in which other women can thrive and perform to the best of their abilities. Today, we are a 50% female-owned company, and of the 73% of women employed at LAW FOR ALL, 62% are black women. What’s more, at LAW FOR ALL, we take sexual harassment very seriously and have strict policies in place to ensure that the women who work at the company feel safe and can excel. We are adamant about sending a clear message about what acceptable and respectable behaviour is at our company.

At LAW FOR ALL, we are proud of championing equality. We are well represented, and we understand that misogyny blooms when women are not half of the decision-makers, leaders and directors. We create a structural place where equality is the norm, and all employees feel supported. For example, LAW FOR ALL was one of the first companies to offer paternity leave before it became a legal requirement, and we offer maternity leave with full pay.

Gender equality starts at home

Of course, our workplaces matter, a lot. But the most significant place to start is the home. Conversations I had with my mother about fairness and equality still resonate with me today, and I often discuss these topics with my kids.

We need to build homes where parents are equal partners in child-rearing and all acts of domesticity, as an example to our children. Raise girls as explorers and astronauts. The sweet, well-meaning act of calling our daughter a little princess and putting her in a fairy dress, makes her believe that she is, it conditions her to a life where she needs to be “looked after”. Teach her to manage wealth, laugh and read. To explore and experience. To live, so that one day, when she is older, she can help build a better world. And we should teach our sons the same. There is no difference between them; let them see that.

Investing in Employees: Learning and Development at LAW FOR ALL

In just the last decade alone, the legal landscape in South Africa has evolved tremendously: from technological innovations to client demands; the industry keeps changing and adapting. White that comes with its own set of challenges, it also opens doors for exciting opportunities for anyone who wants to get into the legal services industry.

Like many other industries across the world, the legal industry is facing a shortage of exceptional people. The number of lawyers with the right skills is limited, and organisations are fighting to attract and retain the best professionals in the legal market. Of course, this might have something to do with the fact that many companies don’t prioritise learning and development opportunities for employees.

 

1. LAW FOR ALL Understands the Importance of Learning and Development.

LAW FOR ALL is known for making the law accessible for all, but we apply a similar sentiment when it comes to hiring new, upcoming talent. The company is well aware of the inequality that still exists in the country and is dedicated to creating opportunities for talented young legal minds who want to enter the industry and develop their skills further.

On a micro level, LAW FOR ALL truly understands the need to proactively respond to a changing environment by maximising opportunities, mitigating risks and remaining competitive in the global market, we firmly believe that the ultimate key to success is engaging employees in meaningful and empowering ways.

For a more comprehensive take on meaningful work, feel free to have a look at LAW FOR ALL’s Talent Management Strategy.

 

2. LAW FOR ALL’s Learning and Development Philosophy

LAW FOR ALL fosters an enabling environment guided by best practice procedures, processes and platforms. The focus is on creating a talent pipeline that will build:

  • Competence in current roles – technical or functional skill as well as knowledge and ability;
  • Capability for employees to successfully perform in a next level position that requires different skills and competencies; and
  • Capacity that will ensure adequate bench strength to support our growth strategy.

Employees are as accountable as the organisation for their development and advancement in the organisation to maximise the value-add of learning and development interventions. Essentially, it is all about investing in the planned and accelerated development of our high potential employees and support the development of all employees in line with their approved training plans.

 

3. Learning and Development Opportunities at LAW FOR ALL

LAW FOR ALL offers a range of innovative short courses and workshops to empower employees.  The current training programmes include:

  • Short Courses in Labour Law
  • Online Tax Law
  • Deceased Estates
  • Business Risk Management
  • Paralegal Training
  • Master of Laws Qualification (LLM)

Additional training is also planned to meet the requirements of the workforce planning process, which includes:

  • Finance for Legal Professionals
  • Appropriate technical or technological training courses, including software, word processing and online research tools

It is also worth mentioning that LAW FOR ALL offers fully funded study assistance to all employees to help them further their formal education. From certificates and diplomas to graduate and post-graduate degrees, the opportunities are waiting to be taken up.

 

4. Here’s To the Future

LAW FOR ALL has its sights firmly set on the future, and it is an innovative vision that can only come to fruition if our highly valued employees are empowered to work to the best of their abilities.

Keen to join the LAW FOR ALL family?  Have a look at our Career and Opportunities.

A Forward-Thinking Take on Performance Management

LAW FOR ALL’s status as a reliable and efficient legal services provider for South Africans from all walks of life can largely be attributed to the talented employees who excel in various roles in the company.

Creating a collaborative and inclusive environment for staff is incredibly important to LAW FOR ALL, and the company firmly believes that the workplace should be a welcoming and inspiring space for all those who help make the law affordable and accessible for clients.

LAW FOR ALL has recently tweaked its Performance Management strategy and policies to ensure that employees are enabled and empowered to perform to the best of their abilities. The plan focuses on a facilitation model of leadership and managing employees, as opposed to archaic forms of management that can be stifling. Individual objectives are aligned with team- and ultimately business objectives and in turn the vision and goals of the business drive operational-, team- and individual efforts.

 

The Objective of Performance Management

LAW FOR ALL believes that its strategic objectives will be met and exceeded with performance management that is geared towards investing in employees. This means creating a rewarding environment that helps employees achieve their personal goals and work more effectively as a team.

 

How is Employee Performance Measured at LAW FOR ALL?

Effective individual performance management is crucial to achieving the company’s vision, and the basic outline is as follows:

  • Planning work and setting Key Performance Areas (KPAs);
  • Setting Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for each KPA;
  • Periodically measuring the employee’s performance against the agreed KPIs;
  • Developing the employee’s capacity to perform through focused training interventions;
  • Identifying high-performing, high- potential employees for the LAW FOR ALL succession plan;
  • Rewarding and recognising good performance.

 

Defining Key Performance Areas (KPAs) and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

At LAW FOR ALL, employees are measured and assessed on two KPAs that are equally important:

  • Functional Competence
  • Behavioural Competence

Functional competence measures the employee’s aptitude regarding the practical execution of their daily tasks and goals, while behavioural competence gauges their proficiency in ‘soft skills’, such as self-leadership, leading a team and leading the organisation. Then within these core KPAs, key KPIs are identified based on the individual’s position and management level in the organisation.

 

How are Performance Areas Quantified and Assessed?

Each KPI is rated against a 5-point scale, for example, 1 will indicate unsatisfactory work where performance is consistently below expectations; while 5 indicates the achievement of a significant goal and work performance that far exceeded expectations due to exceptional quality in all essential areas of responsibility.

A total score is calculated based on the weighting of the KPIs and the rating received for each KPI. This score is translated into a percentage (%) score which is interpreted as follows:

 

0 % – 49 % : Low performance and low potential.

  • Performance needs to be addressed through a formal process

50 % – 64 % : Fair performance and potential.

  • Opportunity to improve through focused development interventions

65 % – 79 % : Good performance, normal potential

  • Displays depth and capability that reflects expertise in current role- The employee may be moved to other positions though the move is likely to be at the same level of responsibility, or with a slightly higher level of responsibility
  • The employee is a solid citizen and plays an important role in the ongoing success of the business. It is therefore important to ensure the continued engagement and motivation of this employee by providing him/her with suitable exposure and development opportunities.

80 % – 100 % : High performance, high potential

  • Someone with the ability, engagement and aspiration to rise to and succeed in more senior, more critical positions with increased levels of responsibility, span of control and complexity.
  • Ability is most important, engagement second and aspiration third, but none alone can serve as a guarantee. Without significant amounts of all three, employees will fail to excel in the more senior, more critical job.

 

The Performance Reviews

The purpose of Performance Reviews is to bring about face to face discussion between a manager and reporting employee, to have a meaningful two-way dialogue to enhance personal performance. At LAW FOR ALL, we believe that through constructive feedback and open communication, employees and managers can work together to identify any issues and overcome obstacles. To ensure the process is thorough, three Performance Reviews occur during the year.

 

Acknowledging and Rewarding Performance

Employees who receive a Performance Rating of 4 (exceeds expectations) or 5 (outstanding) on both the functional and behavioural competencies with an overall Performance Score of 80% – 100% are identified as high performing, high potential employees. Development is fast-tracked for these individuals to be able to move into a next level position when opportunities arise. LAW FOR ALL proudly fills 100% of managerial positions through internal promotions and strives to fill at least 70% of all posts with internal talent


Keen to join the LAW FOR ALL family? Have a look at our Career and Opportunities.

LAW FOR ALL’s Innovative Talent Strategy

LAW FOR ALL is well known for its mission to make the law affordable and accessible for all South Africans. It’s this promise that has made us a go-to legal insurance services company for those who need a loyal friend in the law.

Of course, the success of our company has mostly to do with its foundation: a group of genuinely loyal and innovative employees who are dedicated to providing the quality service to clients. We like to call them our LawStars because they truly shine brightly and excel in whichever department they find themselves. Our LawStars are our greatest assets.

LAW FOR ALL prides itself on attracting, developing and, most importantly, retaining top legal talent. Essentially, it is all about creating an inclusive, collaborative and fair working environment where employees can reach their full potential. Ultimately, our talent management strategy allows the company to proactively respond to a changing climate by maximising opportunities, mitigating risks and remaining competitive in the global market.

 

1. The Importance of Talent Management in the Legal Industry

Over the past decade, the legal profession has evolved in response to changes in the labour force, client demands and technological innovations. The modern day reality is that technological developments, shifts in workforce demographics and the need for businesses to meet client demands and offer more value for money is growing at a quickening pace.

Thanks to technology, both legal professionals and clients now have increased access to legal knowledge and more and more alternative service providers open doors. This has led to a distinction between legal work where lawyers aren’t required (or are peripheral) and work that only a lawyer can do.

We see new specialisations in the legal industry that focus exclusively on improving processes and systems, data analytics and predictive risk management, as well as the development of new technology-enhanced services and products that move routine tasks away from lawyers and into the hands (and control) of clients.

The future talent landscape in the legal sector will be influenced by:

  • Less demand for traditional lawyers, with greater use of technology and alternative career options;
  • A new mix of skills among successful lawyers, with the ability to quickly adapt to changes and new requirements;
  • Greater flexibility and mobility with more agile working arrangements and new types of contracts;
  • Reformed workforce structures and alternative career paths;
  • A greater willingness to source people from other industries with non-traditional skills and training for non-core positions.

Talent management has become more critical than ever, and we understand that organisations in the legal industry today should plan for, deploy, develop, and engage a workforce with the capabilities to adapt to the transformation of the profession.

 

2. LAW FOR ALL’s Talent Management Philosophy

LAW FOR ALL understands the importance of adapting with the times and believes that skilled, competent and high performing individuals will enable the business to achieve its performance objectives. Furthermore, we encourage our staff to build and develop competency (functional skills, knowledge and ability to perform optimally in current roles) and capability (to transition and transfer to other positions that require different expertise and competency). Where possible, we deploy our staff in a manner that allows them to leverage their specific talent and potential.

 

3. LAW FOR ALL’s Human Resources Strategy

LAW FOR ALL strives to be the preferred employer for current and prospective employees in the legal service and insurance industry and we’re fostering a culture of empowerment, accountability and engagement. We work consistently to be renowned and recognised for progressive and innovative HR policies and practices that are applied consistently throughout the business. The goal is to foster a working environment that is characterised by fairness, open communication, personal accountability, trust and respect.

 

4. Dedication to Meaningful Work.

Our staff have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of millions of South Africans. We are a caring bunch of individuals with one goal in sight: to make the law affordable and accessible for all.

Quality of Life: Not only do we invest in our employees with attractive compensation and differentiation for performance, but foster an environment that balances our jobs with our personal lives. Our lucrative benefits and progressive HR procedures enable the harmonisation of hard work, with flexibility, opportunities and incredible experiences.

Maximising Potential: Our employees are part of an innovative, dynamic and multi-cultural team of professionals. We promote an environment of continuous learning through challenging and stimulating work, fully funded training for competence and development of future capability. We pride ourselves on a 100% internal promotions rate for managerial positions.

Open Communication: We recognise the importance of communication and provide information about the day-to-day operations, successes and failures of our business. Everyone is empowered to make decisions, voice ideas and provide significant contributions through open dialogue across all organisational levels.

Celebrating Success: Whether it is a sizeable public achievement or a small everyday triumph, we recognise and praise our employees for their contribution to our business. We are motivated by our successes and are frequently reminded that we work for a winning organisation.

 

LAW FOR ALL is committed to a consistent Talent Management approach that creates a sufficient selection pool of staff for critical and future managerial positions and creates an environment that encourages professional development.

Keen to join the LAW FOR ALL family?  Have a look at our Career and Opportunities.

Terms and Conditions – Campaign

Terms & Conditions:

  1. The competition is open to LAW FOR ALL Policyholders only.
  2. To enter, reply ‘SAVVY’ to the Competition SMS OR submit details in the Contact Form in the ‘Savvy Legal Tips to help you Save Money’ blog article.
  3. SMS replies are charged at Standard SMS rates.
  4. In order to be eligible to enter, Policyholders must be signed up with LAW FOR ALL for at least a one year and be paid up to date with their premiums.
  5. The competition is unfortunately not open to LAW FOR ALL employees, or to employees of an affiliated company.
  6. Entries may be submitted from the 21st of June 2018, until 12 pm on the 21st of November 2018, when the competition will close.
  7. Contact details will be entered into a lucky draw, and the winner will randomly be chosen by one of our representatives.
  8. One winner will be chosen on the 25th of each month. The winner will be announced on the LAW FOR ALL Facebook Page and contact will be made with the winner directly.
  9.  LAW FOR ALL will make payment of R10 000 toward the winner’s debt with a creditor of their choice, subject to providing written proof of the debt to LAW FOR ALL and that the debt was incurred before the closing date of the competition.

 

 

Victory for All: 5 Facts from the ConCourt’s Nkandla Ruling

South Africa’s constitutional democracy is based on the values of accountability, rule of law and the supremacy of our Constitution, a Constitution that protects citizens against unchecked abuse of State power and resources. In today’s unanimous Constitutional Court judgement the court gave effect to these principles, thereby posing a stern warning to office bearers who ignore their constitutional obligations. Here are 5 important points from the judgement to take note of:

  1. The Public Protector’s role as a S9 institution has been clarified, and the Constitutional Court emphasised that the Public Protector has an important role to play in strengthening our democracy and fighting against corruption. Her powers must be exercised without any fear or favor and cannot be diluted or undermined.
  2. As the first citizen, the President has sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution, and to promote national unity, maintain peace and stability.  Two years ago, the Public Protector found that the President and his family unduly benefited from the upgrades at his homestead.  The court confirmed  that by failing to comply with the Public Protector’s report and favoring Ministerial reports absolving him of any liability, the President disobeyed the Constitution and acted inconsistent with his sworn duties.
  3. The Court found that the remedial steps outlined by the Public Protector are binding on the President, and not in any way optional. The President had to take reasonable steps to determine the amount to be reimbursed for features that are not security related (e.g. the swimmingpool, chickenrun, tuckshop etc).
  4. Parliament is the voice of the voiceless, watchdog of state resources and has a duty to enforce financial discipline. The National Assembly is only entitled to scrutinise the Public Protector’s findings before holding the President/Executive accountable, but had no right to absolve the President of liability. Parliament breached the Constitution. Only a court of law could determine otherwise.
  5. The Court ordered that the National Treasury determine the reasonable cost of the work done at the President’s Nkandla Homestead which do not relate to security measures. The President must now pay back the costs out of his own pocket and must also contribute to the costs of the court case, along with the Minister of Police and the National Assembly.