In this week’s episode of The Pursuit Desk features Heather Ritchie, Chief Knowledge and Business Development Officer at Hicks Morley joins Jason Noble to discuss leveraging firm knowledge to improve operations and service delivery.
Heather Ritchie has decades of experience working in the legal industry, starting with her experience practicing law. After going back to school to study information studies, she became interested in database design and architecture.
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1:00 Heather’s journey from practicing law to chief of knowledge and business development.
After working in litigation for a couple years, Heather decided she wanted to go back to school to study information studies with the goal of being a law librarian. When she got to library school the internet had begun to explode and her interest in database design and architecture grew. After school she got more involved in the marketing department and realized how interested she was in finding ways that marketing could leverage technology to be more efficient.
5:40 How business development and knowledge management can work together to identify opportunities
Heather quickly identifies ways that marketing could help their knowledge management (KM) team, starting with introducing new technology and KM tools. She saw that there was a key way that marketing could contribute and add value to what the KM team was doing. That’s when she decided to build out a proposal generator.
7:10 Be the proxy between lawyers and the firm’s information
Heather likes to think of the KM team’s role as the translator between the lawyers and other departments at the firm like the IT team and finance. She quickly discovered that there was a lot of overlap in the information needed between all of the teams at the firms. Thats when she decided to work with all of these teams and the marketing team to help share information wherever it was needed.
She didn’t want to have to go to lawyers for basic information, she wanted to only go to them when she needed critical pieces of information about the deal. Information that would make it a unique directory submission.
9:11 Using proposal generation to help with chamber submissions
Not only can accurately stored data and information help you generate win-worthy proposals quickly, it can also help you when it comes to time-consuming chamber submissions. With a good repository of information from the last year, it becomes easier to pull which cases and deals were the most significant. Typically chamber submissions are extremely time-consuming to compost, but with the basic information easily accessible it makes it a lot less painful.
If you are able to accurately capture information about a matter at the time it is completed, it is a lot easier to build on that information later, and often times you will get better information. This also helps you limit what you are asking of the lawyers to just the essential information.
11:25 The hardest part of experience management
Heather says without a doubt the hardest part about working in experience management is finding time with the lawyers. They’re busy doing their own work and they don’t want to have to debrief you on the matters. That is why she always tries to streamline that process. The next greatest challenge that she faces is that it can be difficult to keep the information up to date. She tries to find ways that don’t rely on the lawyers to self-report, she wants more efficient ways to collect data.
15:00 Pieces of technology that are critical to business development
Heather says there are a couple pieces of technology that are critical to operating an efficient and accurate business development team. One is a CRM system – this enables them to easily have up to date information on all of their clients at any given moment. Heather also believes that once you are producing more than 2 proposals a week, you need more than just a proposal template, because there is a better and faster way to track your responses and produce a great first draft.
She also stresses that while technology is important the BD’s success, its not the end all be all. You ultimately need leadership at the firm to support the business development tam and adoptions of new technology. You also need engagement and commitment from the lawyers to use the technology.
23:37 Story telling as a tool to get lawyers to adopt
Storytelling can be used as a huge tool to help with the adoption process of new technology. People relate more to stories that describe their current situation, that the potential outcome you can present to them. So presenting new technology by approaching the struggles they are currently facing, can be more helpful in their adoption process that telling them they will get x,y and z with the technology.
23:15 Traits of a successful Business Development (BD) team
There are a lot of traits that heather thinks make a successful BD professional. They are persistence, adaptability, intelligence, hard working attitude, resilient, having a growth mindset and working well under pressure.
Persistence means that they are able to follow up with lawyers when they have to. They have to understand that lawyers are busy and you are constantly competing for their attention.
Adaptability is Important because you have to be able to understand that each lawyer works differently and you will have to adapt how you communicate with each of them.
Your willingness to learn also goes a long way. And your resilience means that you don’t accept no as a definite answer. When working at law firms a no doesn’t always mean a definite no, it could just mean no right now.
30:55 What technology impacts are you looking forward to
COVID has had an interesting impact on firms, where it has created an acceleration of digital transformation. It has never been so important to be able to access knowledge frorm everywhere at anytime.
Heather also believes that there will a bigger shift towards the importance of data – data analytics, data mining. and data acquisition. She thinks data will play a huge role in spotting trends and helping determine fees and identify client’s needs.
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