Legal Consultant Profiles: 'Wearing Two Hats' Rob Shakespeare.
- Hi Rob! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from the UK and spent the first part of my career (pre ‘NewLaw’ that is), working as corporate and transactional lawyer in the London office of a US/International firm, advising a range of clients from entrepreneurs to MNCs and financial institutions on M&A and investment/fundraising transactions. In 2016 I was given the opportunity to move to the firm’s Singapore office to be part of a strategic push to build a mainstream corporate team, focusing mainly on helping US and UK clients with investments into the SE Asia region. It was a great experience, both professionally, learning how to get deals done in a wholly new business environment and from the personal perspective, moving to SE Asia with a young family and immersing ourselves in this incredibly diverse and dynamic part of the world has been an enormous amount of fun.
I actually enjoyed my time in private practice, but the experience of moving to Singapore opened my eyes and I increasingly had the feeling that there was a lot of other exciting ways to spend my waking hours and that some variety and new professional challenges would be a good thing! Making the leap, and especially leaving behind a comfortable (albeit hard-working!) job and all the security that came with it wasn’t easy and took quite a lot of introspection and conversations with friends and family, but I realised that I wanted to do something more commercially focused and I also really hankered after an opportunity to work in a small, growing business, and be part of that journey, for good or bad! It's fair to say that I reached the conclusion that there was actually greater risk maintaining the status quo than taking a jump!
At the same time, I still wanted to be able to leverage my skills and experience in the legal industry whilst developing them further and so as I learnt more about the ‘New Law’ players that were appearing in the market, I became hugely excited about the opportunity to be involved in the ‘innovative’ side of the industry. It seemed fairly obvious that these alternative business models had enormous potential and were going to be the big growth story in the coming years; and I wanted to be involved in that.
- With 2020 approaching, what are some trends you're witnessing in the legal space?
We all now hear this over and over but the main trend, which is manifested in lots of different aspects, is that we are starting to see an opening up of the legal services industry and a shift away from the traditional ways of thinking about legal services. This is now happening across the globe to greater or lesser extents and continues to gather pace. The emergence of LegalTech is obviously a key catalyst for this, but the shape of legal services has changed so little for so long and remained so intrinsically linked to the legal profession that it was inevitable that all the technological and behavioural changes that we have seen in other walks of life, whether as consumers or producers, were sooner or later going to touch the legal space and people were going to start asking why the legal industry as a whole was not keeping up. I think we are only just seeing the beginning of this and the next few years are going to bring a really quite radical shift in the way legal services are thought of, taught, consumed and delivered, benefiting everyone from the average man or woman in the street all the way up to global enterprises and sovereign institutions.
- How can we do an end of year Q&A without asking about your New Year’s resolutions – both professionally and personally.
I’ve actually set myself fairly similar new year resolutions for each of the last few years. As mentioned earlier, moving from the UK to SE Asia and then leaving the private practice bubble really helped open my eyes and mind to new perspectives, ideas and more contemporary ways of working. So my resolutions are essentially to keep learning, seeking out new experiences and challenging myself. As part of planning out my transition from private practice, I identified the holes in my skill sets and experience and was quite methodical about plugging those gaps, whether through formal university and business school programs to self-teaching and finding mentors and asking their advice. Since joining KorumLegal, I have been on a steep learning curve; from the commercial aspects of managing and growing a small business, and life as a legal consultant to ensuring that a non-techie like me can be fully conversant with what LegalTech has to offer. Just over six months into the new role, I am absolutely loving it and am excited about what the future has in store for KorumLegal.
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