When it comes to developing a new strategy for your organisation, a common dilemma arises: top-down or bottom-up? Clearly benefits and drawbacks exist for each approach and any strategist will tell you that making the right choice is essential to remain relevant to your clients’ needs, ensure productivity and output, as well as team engagement.
With a top-down strategic approach, management establishes plans and goals and then communicates this with the rest of the organisation. In contrast, a bottom-up strategic approach leverages specialised skills and talents within teams and encourages them to share ideas among themselves and with management. This helps communication, engagement and morale and also provides management with an important opportunity to understand their people better. As a result, teams can offer practical solutions that are often effective.
As technological advancements have the potential to change entire industries in the blink of an eye, it has never been so important to engage teams in order to identify the key issues in a business, and also what is required in the future to ensure the relevance and longevity of the services being provided.
This is certainly the case in the legal services industry, which is known for its traditional ways of operating and a sometimes “progress shy” attitude.
A range of new technological possibilities is disrupting well-established law firms and other legal service providers. The question is – do law firms bury their heads in the sand, hoping the disruption is minor, or should they embrace development and implement changes, ensuring they are able to continue guiding clients efficiently and effectively?
A dynamic team culture
At lecocqassociate, a legal, structuring and regulatory advisory firm based in Geneva, Malta, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, this choice was an easy one. The firm is powered by a dynamic team culture based on meritocracy, with a focus on providing high-quality services to its clients and hiring and maintaining talent. At lecocqassociate, the story centres on promoting good ideas that come from the various teams, regardless of its specific role. It is a culture that believes talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships. It is no surprise that, when deciding on how to shape its firm for the future, lecocqassociate turned to all members of its diverse teams and created a fun project designed to seek their ideas on how the firm should develop.
In March 2017, lecocqassociate launched a firm-wide competition, “The law firm of the future”, to come up with new concepts which will shape the firm’s plans for the years ahead. Fourteen lawyers and support staff from lecocqassociate’s Geneva, Malta and Dubai offices were divided into three teams and given eight criteria, from client needs and new fields of legal specialisation, to technological solutions for lawyers, including artificial intelligence and block chain. They were then asked to research each criteria, compile their solutions into a report and present their results to a panel of judges.
After months of planning and preparation, the teams presented their ideas at a four-day retreat held in February 2018. Each team demonstrated the right mix of emerging tools and strategies to make lecocqassociate’s ideas and objectives a reality. The judging panel, consisting of two fund managers, a law student with an interest in the future of the profession and two lecocqassociate partners, then determined the ideas they felt would make lecocqassociate a pioneering law firm in the years ahead, for both for its clients and for its staff. “Engaging our people to drive the growth of the business is a key factor to any strategic success,” stated Dominique Lecocq, founder and Managing Partner of lecocqassociate, during the event.
The teams showed seamless collaboration on the project, despite being spread across the three offices. Equally, they were thrilled to be such an integral part of the process as to how lecocqassociate would shape up in the future.
“A combination of lawyers and non-lawyers and different cultural backgrounds and ages in each team meant that we were able to draw upon the diverse experiences that make our firm unique and led to a level of creativity and problem solving not often seen in a traditional law firm,” said Krista Vimont, Head of Office in Geneva. “Being entrusted with the responsibility of pioneering a development plan for the future of the firm has been more than a thrilling experience. The management planted a seed in every participant which was nourished so each and every individual had an equal opportunity to grow within the firm of today and project the growth of the law firm of tomorrow,” reported Celaine Vella, Associate in lecocqassociate’s Malta office and member of the winning team in the “Law Firm of the Future” competition. As an outcome of this event, lecocqassociate has created its “2018-2022 Roadmap”, with contributions from the three teams. The roadmap is being implemented by the teams themselves, who have formed committees. Each committee hones in on one of the projects forming part of the roadmap, works with stakeholders to establish a step-plan and budget and then consults on practical implementation with lecocqassociate’s management and partnership.
Driving the roadmap is the lecocqassociate group’s ambition to grow organically and geographically. lecocqassociate has already opened a further office in Abu Dhabi and is close to opening its fifth office in Luxembourg, with plans to open in New York in the medium term. The roadmap also addresses its employees’ training and development needs on continued legal education as well as the need to invest in the newest technology, which will enable the firm to become future-proof.
Lecocq also hopes that the implementation of lecocqassociate’s roadmap will guarantee the longevity of lecocqassociate in the years to come.
“Every day we work towards building a sustainable team that will continue after me. If the clients keep coming back for the brand, the team and the atmosphere, then the firm will remain.” Back on the ground the teams are now in full strategic implementation mode and the future looks exciting and engaging for all staff from top to bottom – a hands-on strategic roadmap in the real sense of the word.