Melanie Ryan: The Client of the Future – Innovating around the Client Experience

Continuing Alternative Insights view from the Professional Services marketplace around The Client of the Future – Innovating around the Client Experience.

Today’s perspective is from Melanie Ryan, Head of Client and Technology Solutions, Alternative Legal Services at Herbert Smith Freehills, and delves into the expectations of the Legal sector client of the future and the validity and potential of applying technology to support both the client and the firms business needs…

The client of the future in our sector will require even more for less. This phrase commonly triggers thoughts of more work product for less cost but I think the client of the future will actually want more depth to their legal services, with more value being added to their business as part of doing business with us.

For example, I see clients who have vast amounts of data in their businesses contained in contracts. These documents and how they are created/negotiated hold a great deal of knowledge about their business and the in-house legal function. The issue for our clients is how do you mine that data and extract from it valuable insights that not only enhance the operation of their team but also demonstrate real value to their corporation both legally and commercially. Our clients are wanting to demonstrate value and transform the role of in-house counsel from the “Department of No” to being a real asset to the broader company in spotting productivity blockers, trends in contentious scenarios and primarily support their business to make it easier for them to do business.

Working with our clients we recognised that we could play a contributing role in this area by leveraging our skill-set which has been honed by data management/review services and applying technology solutions to legal problems. We could see the opportunity to take what we do as business-as-usual in our law firm and turn the attention inward to our clients’ day-to-day issues. We wanted to provide more depth and provide an analytical mind-set to the relationship we had with our client’s data and as well as our client, working beyond the regular dispute or transaction.

We have leveraged this approach in the use of AI analysis of a client’s contract suite for operational requirements, obligations and risk. The project was to inform, holistically, across the national business reporting requirements and potential risk contained within the contracts. This review helped our client not only to have oversight of what was in their contracts for issues that were important but also inform the broader business and board on potential risk positions that could influence business governance decisions. This type of service is where I feel the client of the future will want their legal services partner to operate – to demonstrate depth of service, knowledge of their business and create opportunity for the in-house team to be a business leader.

Alternative approaches have been to work with clients to analyse their negotiation behaviour and trends in positions around particular projects. The outcome of this review has been to help the in-house team to agree positions to help speed up negotiation based on market trends or business drivers. The legal team wanted insight to change their style of negotiation from the traditional legal model of clause by clause negotiation to a more commercial standpoint. The exercise also brought out process improvement ideas when negotiating large suites of contracts. In the past our services as a law firm would be to help draft and negotiation the contracts but with our changing value proposition in data analytics and technology solutions, we starting to think innovatively as to how we can apply these concepts to give back to our clients.

These types of services I think will become more and more prevalent into the future as clients look to be more strategic within their industries. I think they will look for legal advisors who can meet them on the transformation journey to not only solve legal problems, but to solve legal business problems.



Melanie Ryan

Melanie Ryan

Herbert Smith Freehills
Melanie brings 20 years’ experience in legal technology from both the UK and Australia from within “big law”. Melanie specialises in designing and implementing solutions for bespoke projects or “business-as-usual” support for in-house legal teams using databases and AI software to leverage teams, process and technology. Melanie has experience in disputes, claims management and transactional support across Government, healthcare, construction, real estate, financial services, commercial litigation and cross-sector M&A. Prior to joining Herbert Smith Freehills, Melanie was a legal technology manager at a top tier Australian firm and was located in both Melbourne, Brisbane and previously London. In addition to her significant experience in the Australian market. Melanie trained in law in London and she was recently named as a Tech Pioneer: 24 Evangelists for Change in the Legal Sector by The Lawyer (UK) Magazine (July 2018) https://www.thelawyer.com/legal-tech-pioneers/