Pioneering a culture of radical change: a new approach for the legal workplace

The latest episode of the Unworking podcast shines a light on how DLA Piper is building a culture of radical change in a profession that isn’t known for its rapid evolution

In a new episode of the Unworking podcast, UnWork advisor and former DLA Piper consultant Cornelius Medvei is in conversation with Simon Levine, the global co-CEO and managing partner at DLA Piper. The conversation centres around how the law firm’s commitment to innovation by embracing a culture of ‘radical change’, and the launch of its disruptive legal, tech and business advisory solution, ‘Law&’.

Structured flexible working

Flexible working is now widely adopted across law firms. While Simon is a keen supporter of more flexible work styles, he believes law firms require a degree of structure and method within the new parameters of work. Teams should be coming in at the same time together with a set method as to how people collaborate in person – this makes it easier to build a supportive culture, rather than creating a scenario where it is like ships passing in the night.

When employees do come into the office, Simon believes the workplace needs to promote the right culture and experience. He references the Greek term ‘eudaimonia’, which refers to a state of human flourishing or happiness. In an office environment, this chemical feeling is something that can’t be replicated in online meetings as it comes from interacting and meeting colleagues in person.

Taking a different approach to new technologies

Cornelious and Simon discuss the nuances between an offensive and defensive approach to embracing AI and new technologies within the legal sector. A defensive approach would centre around efficiency – using AI to do some of the work that humans may otherwise have done.

Where an offensive approach to AI might look at larger scale operational differences. In the legal sector, a large part of what lawyers do takes place in the regulatory space, and Simon points out that there is no logical reason why regulatory advice cannot be delivered on an AI enabled technology platform.

Although this may affect the way you deliver what you offer to your clients, it all ties into how office space will evolve over the next five to 10 years. Simon comments on how businesses are now facing increasing pressure when it comes to cost management, and how this will inevitably lead to large firms looking more critically at its office space.

Sharing workspace with clients

Simon noted that he has been seeing a change in office usage and how lawyers are using their office space to accommodate clients. He points out that clients are often asking to use their lawyer’s office space to work from and conduct their own virtual meetings.

With larger firms often having big cafeterias and open plan seating spaces surrounding them, this setup is ideal for a client who may not work regularly in London or requires a central base from which to work from on an ad hoc basis.

Embracing radical change

As DLA Piper continue to evolve as a firm, Simon will transition into a new role to lead the new Law& solution as a strategic innovation partner. Law& is DLA Piper’s solution to disrupt the industry – focusing on embracing technology, legal optimisation, and business advisory advancements to support the firm and its clients in a rapidly evolving landscape.

The concept of radical change allows DLA Piper to continuously evolve and innovate. Simon comments that by embracing change and focusing on the broader needs of clients, law firms can play a crucial role in shaping the future of businesses.

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