Maddocks is one of Australia’s oldest independent law firms. Founded in the boom years of the late 19th century, when gold brought prosperity and architectural grandeur to Melbourne. Now, Maddocks has grown into one of Australia’s largest firms, with 81 partners who work alongside more than 550 people to assist public and private sector clients.
Maddocks works closely with their clients to find the most effective and efficient ways of providing their legal services. Technology is an important way they do this, with a focus on partnering with innovative, solutions-focused companies to help them achieve the desired result.
We spoke with Lindy Richardson, Innovation Partner at Maddocks, to discuss the company’s vision for the law firm, the tools put in place to drive innovation, how the firm stays resilient despite very difficult times, and more.
Real Estate M&A
Founded in 1885
Headquartered in Melbourne, Victoria with offices in Sydney and Canberra
What is your role at Maddocks?
In my role as Innovation Partner, I lead the firm’s innovation strategy and related activity. I also have a day job as a partner in the firm’s Employment Safety and People practice.
How did you identify the need for contract review software?
Maddocks works with a diverse range of clients and sectors, including corporations, businesses and governments. Transactional advice, structuring and contract review is a common need for all of these groups. Contract review platforms support our legal practice teams to work with greater agility, speed and transparency; contain costs; and better manage a range of resources needed to deliver great legal service to our clients.
What have you been most impressed with so far?
The firm has been impressed with the ease of deployment and Kira Systems' customer support, both at the proof of concept and adoption stages. These elements helped us successfully trial and deploy new technology and introduce new ways of working in this very challenging environment.
How will Kira support your company’s long-term goals?
Our client relationships are vital to the long-term success of our firm. Part of this relationship building is looking for ways to do what we do more efficiently. This is something our clients demand of us too. Technology platforms such as Kira allows us to do high-volume work such as this quickly, accurately and more cost-efficiently. That is a win-win for all involved.
What surprised you the most during the onboarding process?
The firm has been very happy with the ease of the user adoption and training. Kira’s UI is very intuitive. The majority of our users picked up the essentials of contract review within Kira very quickly and with minimal formal training. The project management features in Kira support improved collaboration and more effective supervision of team members, who are all currently working remotely. Machine learning features (Quick Study) in Kira are slightly more complicated, but are also very intuitive once you understand the core requirements.
Can you speak on your culture of innovation and the programs put in place to create ideas that drive change?
We see innovation as a way of creating value for both Maddocks and our clients. Our innovation program encourages our people to experiment with new ways of working. We have trained about 200 of our people in design thinking because we want ideas to come from across the firm, not just the leaders. Many of the ideas that have surfaced relate to processes that can be streamlined using technology. The program also creates opportunities for our people to challenge assumptions, think creatively and pursue new ways of working with each other, with clients and with other external parties.
Your website mentions that over the past two years your lawyers have suggested more than 100 ideas, with over 20 progressing into the next stages of experimentation or implementation. Can you expand on this?
At the heart of our innovation strategy is the idea that great ideas can come from anyone, at any time. We have set up a structure to allow those ideas to surface, be challenged, be tested and then be implemented. We have trained many of our people in design thinking, set up a crowdsourcing platform to capture and discuss ideas, and hold regular innovation events and challenges to keep our people thinking deeply about the work they do and how it can be done better. The result is more than 100 ideas that have been tested and about 20 that have moved through to implementation, ranging from internal incentive programs through to major changes in processes.
How is Maddocks monitoring COVID-19 developments and sharing insights related to legal and business considerations to help clients?
Closely and frequently, it’s still a rapidly shifting landscape! We have developed a range of internal and external knowledge resources that help our people and our clients navigate through and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic (and beyond). This includes thought leadership and legal insights, such as our COVID-19 hub, plus webinars focusing on issues relevant to our clients and the sectors we specialise in. We offer extensive, tailored training to our clients through a variety of channels. We have also started a program of work providing more targeted support to clients, such as group forums where clients can discuss with our lawyers and each other issues they are grappling with.
How did the company shift to work from home protocol? What tools have been leveraged to assist with remote working and business continuity?
In mid-March we asked our people to work remotely and the firm was well prepared to do this. Over the past few years, the IT team had led a complete overhaul of the firm’s technology, ranging from the provision of mobile phones and laptops for staff through to the introduction of the Microsoft suite of apps and the transition from handset phones to digital phones. This means our people were agile and tech-savvy enough to manage a smooth transition to working remotely.
Since March, we’ve also experienced the rapid adoption of MS Teams for collaboration, both internally and with clients and other external parties. Our practice teams are also leveraging other third party platforms to support client service, including remote hearings and dispute resolution. Virtual whiteboarding for ideation and process capture is another area of focus and has led to some great insights and new opportunities, including transformation of expert analysis and decision making.
What’s your top advice for colleagues?
COVID-19 is difficult and challenging, but it is also a catalyst for creating positive change. This is not the time to stop experimenting with and investing in innovation in legal service delivery or to attempt a return to the past. It’s the time to look up and forward, think creatively, identify how we can respond and be proactive in designing a better future.
Read the media release to learn more about the Kira Systems and Maddocks partnership.