Collaboration is the hot mess of practice management these days, but what defines it? What separates it from practices that are really more about improving client service or focusing attention on better coordination of process and resource? Stephens Scown, in a “drop the mic” moment, developed – without a giant budget and a raft of staff specialists – a regional campaign for their largest swath of clients in the agricultural business, helping to raise public awareness of the plight affecting their clients’ industry, and encouraging consumers to buy local dairy products. Their efforts, which included co-promoting products at local markets and events, advertising campaigns, creation of a website, and an online “selfie” milk-moustache and pledge-to-buy challenge, produced measurable positive impact for their clients, and convinced this panel that their efforts were the embodiment of true client-firm collaboration: an all-in focus on the clients' goals and their long-term health, using multi-disciplinary approaches, and challenging the firm to see beyond short term returns.
Stephens Scown's efforts required guts, imagination, teamwork, empathy, goal-oriented thinking, and the deployment of outside-their–box practices; best of all, it likely produced what every lawyer and firm strives for in their client relationships: complete trust and alignment of interests. For the majority of clients out there who aren’t giant corporations and the majority of lawyers who don’t work in mega-firms, what Stephens Scown did is the definition of practical collaboration with clients: "I put your needs above mine, for only when you succeed, do we both win.” That is team thinking, and it deserves a big round of applause.
Winner's quote:"The awards present a great platform for benchmarking what you are doing against some of the best professional services firms in Europe. Although it is fantastic to get the recognition of winning an award the real benefit to us is afterwards - hearing from some of the other nominees and what they have done as well as sharing best practice." Robert Camp, Managing Partner of Stephens Scown LLP
From left: Jon Culshaw, Robert Camp (Stephens Scown) and Leo Dyson (HighQ)
Eversheds created an initiative called Ignite, which is a collaboration with their client, Communisis Plc: their vision was to become a virtual extension of the in-house legal team, creating a process and cost effective solution for services to meet the growing legal demands of the corporate client whose mandate to the legal department required them to lower expenses and minimize head-count. The judges were extremely interested in the novel approach the partners built, which found a balance for the client between outsourcing and insourcing (with embedded lawyers from Eversheds), using tech and process management to streamline routine work, and allowing the experienced and institutionally-savvy in-house team to focus more of their time on the important, and not just the urgent. The reason for the second place finish this year is the nascent nature of the project – the results aren’t yet in, and we hope we’ll hear back from this duo next year with more data on how it worked and has been implemented with other client-firm relationships.