How does legal innovation in a 15-person law firm compare with that in a 400+ person law firm? Well, as I discover in today’s interview, it’s not all that different!
Kim Trajer is the Chief Operating Officer at McCullough Robertson and she joins me today to talk about what doing law differently looks like at her 400+ person firm. I was excited to hear Kim’s stories and compare her experiences to my own leading innovation initiatives on a much smaller scale.
Kim and I start by asking “what is legal innovation, anyway?” and Kim shares an interesting story about her penny-drop moment that changed her view about what qualifies as innovation. She started out thinking that innovation had to be something big:
“When innovation became a buzzword … I imagined that it must be something really amazing, like an iPhone for a law firm and I couldn’t really envision what that might be.”
Kim then came to realise that innovation isn’t about huge ideas, it’s about creating value:
- “Innovation is executing new ideas to create value.”
- “Innovation doesn’t have to be super complex or take two years, it can be something really simple that creates value or even stopping doing something that has no value.”
Taking this newfound understanding of what it means to be innovative, Kim then shares some examples of innovations at McCullough Robertson – from simple decisions to stop doing things that “just make sense to stop” to the other end of the spectrum, including building a client management platform.
One of the common challenges with legal innovation that often comes up on the podcast is getting buy-in from and motivating staff to participate in making things better. As Kim says, you need two things:
- a culture that fosters an ability to raise ideas; and
- someone who cares enough about it to make the change.
I loved Kim’s recognition of this by asking her staff a simple question: “What is the dumbest thing we do?” combined with her “Just Do It” ideas, things made sense, could be done quickly and demonstrate to staff that they’re being heard.
“When people are involved in that process, they buy into it more and then they’re an advocate for change and other people see that.”
We also talk about the discipline of innovation, a recognition that it’s not all about innovation jams and design thinking – ideas have to be executed, and often that work is dull.
Kim leaves us with some valuable advice for doing law differently: “find things that give you energy … and understanding that there is a discipline part and boring part to actually creating anything new and exciting.”
About Kim Trajer
Kim is the Chief Operating Officer at McCullough Robertson and for more than ten years has implemented innovation projects and driven cultural change aligned to strategy. Before that, Kim spent 15 years as a client facing lawyer, so has a unique understanding of the challenges facing clients and lawyers, and insights into how law firms operate. Kim believes in doing things differently, learning something new every day, and embracing change as an opportunity.
Pre-order my new book – It’s Time To Do Law Differently
My new book It’s Time to Do Law Differently: How to Reshape Your Firm and Regain Your Life is now available for pre-order in Australia. You can get your signed copy here.
In It’s Time to Do Law Differently, I share my six-step blueprint for transforming your law firm. Learn how to move from a traditional practice to a productised ecosystem and as a bonus, you might just get that quality lifestyle that you’ve been craving.
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