The Changing Lawyer

Case study: CHANGING THE MODEL
 
by Litera Microsystems
 

Portland, Oregon based law firm Barran Liebman prides itself on taking an innovative approach to working styles, client management and office culture.

“We work a little differently to traditional law firms,” says executive director Traci Ray. “We align people more as business partners and colleagues and less as a hierarchy. We don’t have billing or origination credits. People aren’t paid to bring in work and pass it down. We work together on projects, but no one is feeding anyone else and therefore in an elevated position in a hierarchy.”

The firm was founded in 1988 and from its inception aimed for a flatter structure and a seamless client experience.

“Clients get a lot of comfort out of knowing they are being taken care of by a firm instead of by a person who is working solo out of a larger firm setting,” Ray explains. “They know there is always going to be someone there to answer their call. They also understand that more minds tend to create more options and more thoughts on a case.”

The firm is structured so that clients can speak to any of its attorneys without creating any internal turmoil. As Ray puts it: “Clients just want the right answer as fast as possible. They don’t care about billing credits or origination credits."

"We’re trying to exceed client expectations. Internal competition isn’t a goal. We want to raise people who eventually become partners together and that process starts very early in their careers here. We encourage our young lawyers to rely on one another by working together and building trust. Pitting individuals against each other isn’t something that our business is built upon.”

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The model, she adds, attracts team players and also fits with the desire (of millennials, in particular) to be recognized for their contributions.

The firm stresses the importance of communication— both with clients and with other team members—and aims for transparency, thus disposing of any power struggles regarding who should talk to the client.

Ray says: “I think it’s important for everyone to be open to technology and for everyone to learn how to use it properly. When people are more hesitant we slow down the training to make sure they understand it.”

“The worst thing is having an attorney who doesn’t understand the tech when everyone around them is using it. No matter how great an attorney you are, if you can’t communicate with your clients in a way they want you to, then that’s a huge challenge.”

 

 

Originally published by Litera Microsystems 2017.  To read the full publication click here. The Changing Lawyer document was created by Litera Microsystems and distributed in the Red Carpet Club - United Airlines over the 2017 Holidays. While it has no copyrights or publication information, all credit goes to Litera Microsystems . 

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