Legal Consultant Profiles: "The Flexible Legal Transformation" - Gillian Kang.
1. What path lead you to be attracted to legal consulting and the flexible work model?
I was attracted to the path of consulting and the flexi-work model, since I have been in this mode of independent and agile flexibility over the past 2 decades. First, as an entrepreneur in two business “startups” (one in the lifestyle industry which has since grown into a big local player, and another in sports retail), I relished the energy of building businesses and working on every aspect of them, from financials, to legal, to marketing and HR. But this was also the decades where I was bringing up my young family, so the beauty of the flexibility of being my own “boss”, while working with partners, worked well for me. I could do a lot of the business thinking, planning and ops when the kids were asleep, or over weekends, or in pockets of time during the day while not needing to be in an office or be constrained to certain fixed hours during the workday week. Secondly, when I returned to the world of legal and knowledge management in 2011, I was also extremely fortunate in that my firm was agreeable to a flexible full-time half day arrangement, which I had grown accustomed to. It is this flexible ways of working that ultimately led to me after 5 years with them, then going back to school to do my graduate qualification in Systems Analysis.
2. What are the main advantages to you of the NewLaw model?
As mentioned earlier, it is the flexibility of the NewLaw model, with its main advantage of offering a person control over their time, that makes it so appealing. In fact, because the NewLaw model was not present for me from the years of 1998 to 2010, I looked into becoming an entrepreneur so that I could still have a family, without having to forgo being a part of the business and economic landscape. And if being an entrepreneur was not something one was comfortable with, then think about how much talent the legal community and other industries could be losing for periods of time, when industry practitioners leave professions to bring up families or do other things in their lives.
3. Describe how you "engage" with the flexible working model?
I think I have always been part of the NewLaw and gig economy movement, even before it existed. I have always been impatient with the scenario of having to sit around waiting for something to happen, as can be the case, when there are lull periods at work, or downtimes. When I was “stuck” in an office during my earlier legal career, I used to dream about being able to utilise that free time or downtimes, to do other things, but since I was required to be in the office for that set number of hours, every day, except for a leave period of 18 days, there was very little room for exploring. With the flexible working model, I can get my work done, on a project basis, or flexi time basis, and then plan for other portions of my life.
4. What kind of clients have you worked with and on what type of matters?
As a non-transactional lawyer I managed the knowledge from transactions for a firm whose main practice was asset finance. I conducted research, bibling, getting documentation to clients in a timely manner, creating knowledge databases, research guides, registry information databases etc. All this helped to make the transactional lawyers work easier, in that they could get initial info to clients quickly, and there was an SOP that we could follow. I feel processes and managing client expectations require a systematic approach, and the NewLaw model suits me well in this regard, because I can work on parts of transactions that transactional lawyers have very little time for, but are extremely important as well, and this can be done on project basis or for a period of time to be re-visited at stages.
I have also consulted on change management and project management introducing automated processes (RPA) in a TMT industry.
5. What's the biggest challenge of moving out of and away from traditional law structures? What surprised you about working in NewLaw?
The biggest challenge I think for most people will be, that you will need to have a lot of discipline when not working in traditional organisational structures. Because your time is your own, you will have to guard against it being eaten away. And funnily enough it will not be eaten away by the organisation anymore, but by yourself. Inefficiencies or undisciplined structuring of personal life and matters will actually become stressful if not managed carefully. But if you are the type that enjoys making good use of time, and opportunities, then the flexibility of a NewLaw model will be a welcome alternative to getting things done in a manner that envisions greater synergies and quicker progress between working partners.
6. Was making the transition to NewLaw worth it? Why?
Absolutely. I like juggling a few balls in my life; but since I am not superwoman, I don’t want to be juggling too many of them at the same time, all the time. With NewLaw, there can be lovely breaks for rejuvenation after a hectic period of juggling, and even contemplative sabbaticals, to rethink the next step in strategy for a particular project. One can even go back to school between projects. The options are many. The future is here.
In case you missed it, see our other typical consultant profiles - "The Flexible Parent" - Verana Della Vedova
If this speaks to you, or someone you know and you're interested in becoming or learning more about Legal Consulting, email Estefania Altuve and get in touch!
Nov 23, 2018