Podcast

Today’s guest is Jennie Pakula, Manager of Innovation and Consumer Engagement at the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner.  Jennie describes The Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner as a modern regulator who is trying to perform their role in a risk-based, innovative and consumer-focused way.  Jennie’s unique role sees her spending her time understanding the barriers to legal innovation and do what she can to get rid of them. 

What I love most about Jennie’s approach is that she is shifting the perspective. Instead of asking what a lawyer is doing wrong, she’s instead asking about the problem that consumers are experiencing and then working with the profession to better meet those needs. 

We talk about the common complaints that Jennie sees in her role, with around 50% of complaints being around issues that really boil down to poor customer service. 

We also debunk some myths – is regulation really holding back innovation in the profession? We consider that question in the context of pricing, commoditised legal services and the dreaded information vs advice conundrum.  

About Jennie Pakula 

Jennie Pakula was admitted to legal practice in December 1988. She has worked in legal services regulation in NSW and Victoria since 1994. She has interacted with hundreds of lawyers and consumers, and while managing the front end of the complaints and enquiries function, she read over 14,000 client complaints. 
Jennie has written numerous articles and guidance tools to help lawyers overcome common problems, avoid complaints and practice law better. She also regularly participates in conferences and presentations aimed at helping lawyers to understand issues in regulation, consumer protection and innovation. 
Jennie is currently Manager, Innovation and Consumer Engagement at the Victorian Legal Services Board + Commissioner. She is driven by the goal of helping to foster more accessible and affordable legal services for average people. 

Links 

Jennie Pakula quotes 

  • “One of the big things that I’ve observed in many years of looking at complaints is how much of a disconnect there is between what lawyers think they’re selling and what clients think they’re buying.” 
  • “A lot of the regulatory barriers that people think are there are imaginary rather than actual. A great example is around pricing of legal services. There’s a lot of people who think that you have to record your time and charge by the hourly rate, but that’s not the case at all.” 
  • “There’s a sense in which people mistake the conventional and traditional way of doing things to what’s required in regulation. The regulation is a lot more flexible.” 
  • “Lawyers have a mindset of caution and risk aversion. We don’t want to do the wrong thing … there’s a lack of a feeling of freedom to try to do something differently and to try to do things better.” 
  • “If you want to do something differently, you’ve got to be confident, competent, smart, wise, have a careful look at what you are and aren’t permitted to do.” 
  • “Sometimes people expect the big law firms to lead innovation, but that is just not the way innovation works. It always comes from the maverick outsiders.”  
  • “Pricing is really a key factor in innovation because if you think you have to do things by the hourly rate, you have no incentive to be faster and more efficient.” 
  • “There’s a lot of people that are just realising that the existing model that we’ve got for law firms simply isn’t sustainable anymore, so there’s a lot of room for automation, commoditisation, and just reimagining and repackaging how valuable services can be provided.” 
  • “As lawyers we’re interested in thinking about ‘how is this case unique?’ We should be thinking more about ‘how is this case the same?’” 

My new book – It’s Time To Do Law Differently

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If you haven’t got your copy yet, you can get a signed copy here or find the paper back and ebook on AmazonBooktopia or your favourite online bookstore.

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