LegalWeek 2024 - Change Management (Part 1)

Thank you, Epiq for inviting me to join the LegalWeek panel expertly moderated by Kayleigh Bedolla. Came away with great food for thought from my fellow panelists Jason Chancellor, Chief Information Officer from B A L (a US-based immigration law firm); Kate Orr, Global Head of Practice Innovation at Orrick, and Jardanian Josephs, Global Director of Legal Operations at Reed Smith.  

How do you drive business operations transformation in your organization? 

    Jason noted our role is to be a coach, guiding teams through what successful change management looks like and focusing on fundamentals:  Goal setting, measurement establishment, progress tracking, and continuous improvement. 

    Kate added that her team leverages a trifecta of smart people, process and technology in practice innovation working groups and with clients.  

    Another way to think about it is that change management leaders advise client advisors on how they can leverage resources to stay at the top of their practice in efficiently generating advice and other work product, surfacing and championing ideas from both the client and legal professional side.

    What does change management look like at your organization?  

    Kate noted that top down support is critical and the approach is robust and standard processes driving change but fluid and focused on customized experience for the end user.

    With respect to IT projects,  Jason noted a business or legal leader is assigned as the change management owner partnered with an experienced program manager from IT to help guide them through what good change management looks like.  The firm looks for business change owners to be process oriented, strategic, and influential in the firm.

    In my case we typically partner a legal ops project manager to work in close collaboration with an IT-side project manager. Depending on the project the IT partner may be the Projects Management Office, Enterprise Applications or the UX team. Legal ops helps the project owner or sponsor to document business requirements and serves as a translator between legal and IT to generate technical requirements,

    If building the function, who do the people need to be? What key skills/attributes do you look for in these roles?

    "Change managers need to be the sea cow, both kind and fearless." - Kate Orr

    Jason had raised the coach analogy. Coaches focus on individualized communications, leaning into motivation. They listen well and show empathy, provide "feedforward" (as opposed to feedback, provide information to help behavior on a forward-going basis), are goal-oriented and honest.

    Communications encompasses listening well, able to tell a story that sells the vision and  able to translate between legal practice and the client, as well as key partners such as those in technology, finance and human resources. It also helps to be close observer of detail, including non-verbal behavior as well as the ability to document those details clearly. 

    Part 2 will cover resistance to change, facing down failure and lessons learned.