Category Archives: Insights

General Counsel find their Platform

Delivering Legal Operations excellence through people, systems and data

1. Flying blind while burning fuel has been the legal services norm

Within organisations finance, tax, HR and sales typically operate and deliver their services through dedicated software platforms. Whether based on SAP, Oracle, Sage, Workday, Salesforce or other systems, these platforms provide the workflows, processes, templates and essential operational data that make efficient and successful operations possible. The functions that use them know what work they have, where it is coming from, what its value/risk is, who is handling it, how long it takes, why it closed. Their leaders have insight through real-time and trend dashboards and reports that allow them to manage their teams tactically and strategically, driving transformation. They have the means to support and, where appropriate, lead decision-making at the executive level.

Until recently legal departments have had no access to comparable platforms. Only point solutions such as matter management, e-billing, and document review were available. As a result neither comprehensive operational data nor structured work management were in sight. Legal departments typically do not know all the work they have, how complex it is, where it is coming from, who is handling it, how long it takes, or why it closed. On a cross-department, global basis their leaders lack the real-time and trend data to allocate work effectively (internally or externally), manage risk, improve processes, pre-empt issues, reduce costs, and improve customer experience. Mike Naughton of Cisco puts it this way ‘Flying blind while burning fuel has been the legal services norm’.

This is all beginning to change with the rise of Legal Operations Platforms. These technology platforms, tailored to legal and related areas, provide law departments with the equivalent operational advantage currently held by their finance, tax, sales and HR colleagues. By “enabling” the legal function, they allow it to develop and embed a true Legal Operating Model (‘the way things are done around here’), into a scalable technology that integrates with other enterprise-wide systems and point solutions. They deliver market, customer and strategic relevance through actionable data (see Diagram 1).

Operations Platforms capture quantitative and qualitative data that transforms corporate legal departments. They free and protect legal team members by helping them make better and quicker decisions, pre-empt risk, and focus on work that makes a difference to the business that they serve, protect and enable. The data changes what work the department does and does not do, what is self-served, what is re-directed and what is done internally and externally.

These new platforms fundamentally change the legal market supply and value chains. As GCs and Legal Operations teams come to understand and rely on data, they learn how to make informed decisions about how they can best support the tactical and strategic objectives of their business. As well as advisers and business partners they become managers of legal service delivery, designing who should do what work and where, whether internally or externally. It also helps them decide what work should, critically, not be done by expensive lawyers. The General Counsel’s Office now has its platform and the data it generates pushes the department, sometimes against its instincts, to the heart of decision-making.

Many drivers are building momentum for this evolution in how and where legal work is performed: increased competition across all sectors, the dynamic world of legislative and regulatory change, cost-up and price-down pressures, digital disruption, technological innovation (including AI), and law firm inertia. The arrival of new entrants, particularly the Big Four, and the way they change thinking and use data should not be under-estimated.

There will be an inevitable growth in work retained by corporate legal functions. While this leads to a material reduction in work undertaken by traditional law firms (see Diagram 2) it does not mean a commensurate increase in in-house legal team numbers. Self-service, technology and dashboards will drive significant productivity gains. Corporations’ enterprise-wide focus on data, from which legal operations are not immune, plus outsourcing to innovators such as Riverview Law and the Big Four, will accelerate this trend.

All roads lead to function-wide legal operating models and platforms, not point solutions. To the legal data layer, not spreadsheets. The corporate law departments that grasp this will, quietly, quickly and unassumingly, move to the heart of business decision making and strategy. Their teams will be freed to become business enablers.

2. How do we make it happen? How do we embed our operating model into a scalable Operations Platform?

We are frequently asked these questions when corporate legal teams visit our Service Delivery Centres. In responding we share our journey plus the many mistakes we have made and the lessons we have learnt. We explain Diagram 1, the Riverview Law Operating Model, powered by Kim, and how we took our Operating Model (Step 1) and embedded it in an Operations Platform (Step 4); review from ‘1. Operating Model’ and work up.

Diagram 1: The Riverview Law Legal Operations Platform, powered by Kim

 Diagram 1

3. Will the relationship between corporate legal departments and law firms change?

Data provides insight. As corporate legal departments industrialise their operating models they understand what work they have; they capture essential operational data. This is changing, and will change, how and where work is done. Traditional law firms are likely to lose ground. This customer (inside-out) view is supported by external market research. In ‘Remaking Law Firms: Why and How’ Dr George Beaton and Dr Imme Kaschner observe:

Based on the researched conclusion that no law firm can assume its place and prosperity are assured … most firms are not well equipped to know what to do or how to ‘remake’ their business models. In the future the ways clients meet their needs and the rules for success of firms are very different. The winners in the kaleidoscope will be those firms that are starting now to prepare in earnest.”

George Beaton further suggests that over the next decade a series of trends will inevitably result in a reduction in the share of legal services revenues secured by traditional law firms. He forecasts that, while still important, law firms will be substituted by a combination of (i) new entrants, (ii) automation, (iii) technology innovation and (iv) the continuing growth in corporate legal functions doing work that previously went externally. The table below is the Beaton/Dawson forecast for England & Wales in their April 2016 paper ‘Evidence why BigLaw firms must start remaking now’.  They identify the same trend in other jurisdictions.

Diagram 2

Diagram 2

Bruce MacEwen of Adam Smith Esq, commenting on current market dynamics, re-enforces this view:

In constant, inflation-adjusted dollars, we see zero current marketplace evidence that the law firm sector will experience anything other than a shrinking share of revenue – nor have we heard any plausible hypothesis to the contrary.  The in-house share, meanwhile, should achieve modest real growth by virtue of labor market arbitrage if for no other reason; but it will not and never should grow to the sky, as a core competence of corporations is not building an internal law firm.  Finally, NewLaw (depending on how inclusive your definition and whose data you believe) has been on a CAGR tear since finding its bearings a few years ago, with growth rates of 30–60%/year, and the sector is still in its infancy.  Add to this that every $1.00 going to NewLaw takes perhaps $3.00 out of the other sectors and while the size of its share a decade hence is subject to the greatest forecast error, the vector of its growth is as certain as business bets can be.” May 2018

We witness these themes in all our customers. The direction of travel is clear.

Karl Chapman
Chief Executive, Riverview Law

Riverview Law (
www.riverviewlaw.com) provides three core services to its customers:

Managed Services: By using dedicated-to-customer teams that understand the culture, risk appetite and operating model of our customer, we use our Legal Operations Platform to become a seamless part of the client function, freeing its team so that it can focus on key tactical and strategic matters. All our managed service contracts are fixed prices so that we share risk/reward with our customers and drive appropriate behaviours.

Projects: Using our Legal Operations Platform we are experts in document review, remediation and prototyping managed services and technology solutions for customers.

Technology: We help corporate legal and related departments to use data and technology to evolve their operating models, improve quality, manage risk and reduce costs. We are the leading global systems integrator of the Kim technology platform for customers who want to deploy Kim for their teams to use.

Download the extract here.

‘Triage’, one of the most powerful words in the In-house legal dictionary

Capturing foundational data that helps improve performance, evolve the legal operating model and make the function AI ready

 1. Introduction

We all know how crucial triage is in a medical environment. Intuitively we know it makes sense to ensure that the most critical cases are seen quickly and efficiently. Most business functions have applied triage based processes for years, decades. Sales to direct the right opportunities to the most relevant sales people. HR to allocate the appropriate resource to a particular case. IT to direct enquires to the right technician. This should be no surprise. In French ‘triage’ literally means to sort or to categorise. What function would not want to sort and categorise its incoming work to ensure that it is handled by the right person, at the right time and at the right price?

2. The power of triage

We used triage in the recruitment company we set-up in 1989 and ran until 1999 (www.spring.com). We use it in AdviserPlus, the HR managed service business we founded in 2000. We use it extensively in Riverview Law. When we deliver managed services to our customers it is really important that we know:

  • Who the instruction came from
  • What business unit they are in
  • What the work type is
  • What the urgency of the work is
  • Whether the instruction is complete
  • When we received the instruction
  • Who we allocated it to (Riverview Law, In-house team or third party legal provider?)
  • What its current status is
  • How long each stage of the work took … etc

This is the foundational data layer upon which all our real time and trend data is built. We cannot run our business effectively, or constantly improve our services to customers, reduce costs and improve quality without the data and insights it provides (see Appendix A). This is why ‘triage’ is one the most powerful words in the In-house dictionary. It is the foundational layer that drives not only a game-changing data strategy but the entire legal operating model; because it helps determine where work is coming from, what work should be done by whom and whether it should be done internally or externally. Given how easy it is to implement an effective instruction management and triage process (www.virtualassistants.global) it is surprising how few In-house teams have the systems (not spreadsheets!) and real-time dashboards in place to cover this key part of the legal support process. The data it provides helps to allocate work effectively and answer what, in reality, are pretty fundamental questions; how many matters do we have live today, who is handling them, what is their status …? These answers should be readily available. In this context legal is no different from any other function in a business. If I ask a Finance Director equivalent questions they can answer immediately; what is our net cash position, what is the rolling three month profit forecast and how does it compare with budget, how is our capital expenditure tracking against forecast …? If I ask a Sales Director what the sales pipeline looks like they can show me the number of opportunities in the pipeline, who is handing them and what the status is.

3. The direct and indirect benefits of triage

A well-constructed instruction management and triage process has many benefits: 1. Consistent and easy to use gateway to Legal For both users of In-house legal services (the business) and legal team members, a well-constructed triage process makes life easier. For lawyers it provides consistency, complete instructions and it helps manage the influx of work. For business users, who are used to working in this way with other functions, it provides a quick and easy gateway through which to access legal support. Whenever we deploy our Virtual Assistants (virtualassistants.global) invariably the In-house legal team response is the same – ‘why didn’t we do this before?’ The business response is usually, ‘about time’.


2. The right people doing the right work Triage makes sure that the right work is undertaken by the right people, at the right time and at the right price. Because triage captures the data automatically In-house departments soon start re-allocating work. It is amazing how often the data highlights experienced In-house team members working on matters that are mid or low complexity while work they could/should be doing is being sent to expensive external law firms. By allocating the work properly, In-house morale increases because the team is working on more challenging matters. Net costs reduce because expensive, hourly billing, third party law firms are replaced by a combination of In-house team members and fixed priced managed services providers like Riverview Law handling the volume day-to-day work.


3. Resource management and planning In-house legal leaders often share with us their frustration about being unable to make the internal business case for more team members. They may or may not need more people. Whether they do or do not, the real-time and trend data that instruction management and triage provides is exactly the information needed to make a detailed analysis so that an evidence based case can be established. We have seen In-house use our data to change the mix of work they do. This has either avoided the need for more people or, typically, reduce the actual number of new team members required.


4. Creating a Target Operating Model (TOM) There is, rightly, a lot of talk across the In-house community about evolving legal operating models and the need to make decisions within a strategic framework rather than just fire-fighting and implementing tactical solutions. This was a key theme at the excellent Corporate Legal Operations Conference in San Francisco: ‘Something’s Happening’ http://rv-l.com/CLOCblog. Legal leaders recognise that they need a target operating model that they can work towards. Yes, the TOM evolves over time. It should. But there needs to be a broad direction of travel and a plan. One of the key inputs into establishing a TOM is an understanding of the work the function is handling. Which brings us all the way back to the power of instruction management and triage.


5. The foundational layer for a legal data strategy The potential impact that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will have on markets, business models and company functions (sales, HR, legal …) is covered daily in the media. The impact is unknown. However, irrespective of the potential of AI, it is clear that machine learning, analytics and smart assistants are driving change now. Indeed, many of these tools are AI enablers. But, to use existing technology effectively, let alone AI, it is critical that In-house legal has a clear data strategy. A clear understanding of what core data it should routinely and accurately collect from its internal and external teams (see Appendix B). Only with this in place will a function be AI ready. At the core of any legal data strategy is instruction management and triage because it is the start of the entire process.


6. Management of third party law firms One of the most effective ways to manage third party legal providers is to have accurate and transparent performance and quality data. With the right data an In-house team can move work, quickly, to the best internal and/or external providers. The diagram below reflects the model we recommend when In-house deploy our Instruction and Triage and other Virtual Assistants (many customers select Riverview Law as one of their managed service providers): Triage image

4. Law firms beware

We have never seen an In-house function that is not busy. But are its team members working on the right matters? Is the right work being done In-house and the right work being sent externally? Is the function being smart rather than just busy? Instruction management and triage provide an easy to deploy answer. An answer which also makes the function technology and AI enabled because of the foundational data layer it automatically creates. And law firms should beware. Triage does not just help internal In-house effectiveness. Once In-house has mastered triage it will totally transform its relationship with external provides of legal services because it drives transparency. In-house will know what work it has sent to a firm, when it sent it, and how long the firm took to do it when compared with internal and/or competitor law firms. When this inevitable shift happens, the legal providers that can prove their efficiency and effectiveness with transparent and tangible measures, such as quality, speed, proactivity and cost, will win out over their more opaque traditional counterparts. This is a world that we at Riverview look forward to – bring it on! Karl Chapman Chief Executive Riverview Law Download full white paper here

Case study: David, Legal Manager

Name: David Role: Legal Manager Hours: Full time Customers: The calibre of customer that Riverview works for is excellent – the likes of which are in many respects the preserve of large City law firms. Also, many of Riverview’s customers have a truly global footprint and in all cases transact their business on an international level. The industry sectors that Riverview work across are broad and exciting from FMCG, finance/banking, IT, travel, telecoms to other interesting niche areas. Complexity of work: My work is interesting and complex in nature, regularly involving global supply agreements and dealing with various business partners across the world. The work is also rewarding and important to the customer, such that you can actually see the impact it has within a large global company. For example, this may relate to a global ground transportation agreement, to a master hardware purchase and support agreement or international estates management. Fundamentally, because I act as an extension of the in-house legal team at a large FTSE 100 company, the work is varied and stimulating dealing with both transactional and advisory matters.

The dawn (and the imminent explosion) of AI in law and legal services

By Steven Malyj, Trainee Solicitor at Riverview Law Towards the end of last year I watched a TEDSalon talk delivered by Kenneth Cukier to a Berlin audience in June 2014.  During the talk Cukier referred to machine learning and the advent of the self-driving car – how the approach to this was evolving from the challenge of explaining to a machine how to drive (think Hugh Jackman teaching the robot how to box in Real Steel), to a state where we provide the facts and the machine teaches itself (Cukier 2014).  It seemed like a fanciful notion and as I listened I imagined hauliers, taxi drivers and white van men going about their day blissfully unaware of the pending implications that this technology may have on their future.  Surely, now that the UK Government has unveiled its plans to invest almost £19 million in the road legal testing of driverless cars between now and 2020, these workers will begin to fret for their livelihoods.  Then, in January 2015 Riverview Law announced a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (‘KTP’) with the University of Liverpool to (among other things) draw on a pool of skilled data scientists and ground breaking Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’) with the aim of automating some of the cognitive abilities of knowledge workers and provide organisations with intelligent decision support tools. In a momentary panic, the palpitations began, my palms became clammy and I started to picture myself cueing up with aforementioned motorists to ‘sign on’.  But what does it really mean?  Where will AI really take the workforce?  This article investigates the dawn (and the imminent explosion) of AI in law and legal services and dispels the myth that new technology will signify the end for lawyers; positing rather that this is merely a new beginning, bringing with it a host of new opportunities for myself and my learned friends. I think we can take it as read by now that law firms, traditionally, are resistant to change; or that is at least how it reads on the face of things.  Some of us (myself included) may think it is more the case that law firms are not resistant, they are incapableOf the 304 respondents to the Altman Weil Law Firms in Transition survey of 2014 (Altman Weil, Inc 2014) the overwhelming consensus opined that the legal market had changed in fundamental ways, 67% of them predicted that the rate of change will only increase, but only 13% expressed any confidence in their firm’s ability to change or to at least keep pace with changes (Georgetown Law 2015).  With that in mind, it is perhaps no surprise that technology has not permeated ‘our world’ with any real pace, so before the critics among us nonchalantly snub the future of legal technology as some sort of urban legend – a bed time story about jurisprudential robots that will sneak into our office and steal our desks – it may be worthwhile briefly examining the application of AI in other fields. It should be enough to refer you to the household names of Amazon and Netflix and the way they use machine learning to suggest books and movies that you may be interested in; or how Facebook and LinkedIn can suggest people that you might know or wish to connect with.  No?  Okay, in October 2012, Geoffrey Hinton and a team of 4 doctoral students won a competition aimed at designing automated drug detection systems.  These systems use algorithms to analyse data sets and identify particular molecules that will bind to targets and therefore make for effective treatments. Interestingly, the competition ran for 60 days, but Hinton and his team did not enter the competition until the last two weeks.  Even more interestingly, neither Hinton nor his compadres had any background whatsoever in Chemistry, Biology or Life Sciences.  They even beat off competition from all of the algorithms developed by Merck – one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.  Hinton and his team achieved this accolade using Deep Learning; a process that attempts to mimic the neural connections of the human brain, processing data in much the same way.  I firmly believe that this is an amazing fete of technology and a sure sign of things to come – law is incredibly complex in its own right, but I defy anybody not to agree that it is at least paralleled by modern medicine and if 5 people with no subject matter expertise can outperform industry leaders then why can it not happen in law?  Make no mistake, machine learning and AI will go everywhere and it will happen at an alarming rate from herein. Applications of machine learning are certainly serving to further the principles of Moore’s Law – the theory that over time the pace of technological advances will increase on an exponential curve.  Figure 1[1] shows how Moore’s Law is progressing. Accelerating pace of change The graph shows that right about now, the processing power of modern technology has surpassed the processing power of a mouse’s brain and that by circa 2025 it will surpass the processing power of the human brain. Now, Moore’s Law isn’t ‘real law’.  It’s not grounded in hard science and empirical facts.  Moore’s Law was a simple observation by Gordon Moore in 1965 that the number of transistors per square inch on integrated circuits roughly doubled each year since the invention of the integrated circuit and predicted that the trend would continue this way.  Looking at the historical plots on the chart, it was quite the prediction, so can we really say that more is not to come?  And quickly at that? What, then, for law?  The use of AI in law is not really a new concept; the first International Conference on AI and Law was held in Boston on 27th – 29th May 1987 and it has been held on every odd numbered year since then.  In 1988 Philip Capper and Richard Susskind didn’t just co-author Latent Damage Law: The Expert System, they developed a piece of software that could guide lawyers through “a dense web of barely intelligible interrelated rules” (Susskind 2014). The system mapped over 2 million paths that would guide lawyers to an informed solution and it was all extrapolated from the mind of one expert lawyer; it was so good that it was considered better than Capper and it was able to reduce the time that it took a lawyer to do this work from 10 hours to just 10 minutes.  But this was a very niche field and so perhaps it is understandable as to why the impact on the legal sector wasn’t what we would call earth shattering.  Further, to extrapolate that technique across the whole of the industry would take a great deal of initiative and inclination to gather the best minds in each field of law for as long as it takes to transfer their knowledge to a system.  We need systems that can learn, spot patterns, understand language and context and adapt. Germany’s Federal Government have recently deployed an AI application which makes automated decisions regarding citizens’ claims for child benefit.  The system is able to assess claims made by citizens by interpreting the justifications that they put forward in their application and determining whether these justifications merit the award of the benefit(s) claimed (Hodson 2013).  I cannot attest to the grounds for awarding child benefit in Germany or the means and criteria by which such claims are assessed, but I suspect that it is safe to say, like in the UK, that such claims are not straightforward and will include the opportunity for the claimant to provide details of extenuating circumstances and any other relevant information to support their claim and so on. What we have here is an example of an advancement in technology from Capper and Susskind’s method of man teaches machine – machine guides skilled operator, to an instance where man tells the machine the basics – machine learns, understands and operates itself.  The cynic here would shout at the top of their lungs “this will cost real people their jobs”. The optimist (particularly from a UK perspective) might well counter the cynic by pointing to the time it takes to process claims, deal with challenges and respond to the ever increasing backlog of queries – it is fair to say that government organisations are reticent to increase staffing just because the number of claims increases; so, if we take the first step of a claim out of the hands of the human workforce, that workforce is freed up to spend more time quality assuring, assessing challenges and queries and providing the sound customer service that the clients are so often crying out for. In Helsinki, TrademarkNow is a relatively new start up firm offering a web based trademark management platform that can provide instant trademark search results in as quick as 15 seconds (shaving days off the traditional trademark search methods), provide automated and relevant watch alerts and allow users wider watch capabilities (TrademarkNow 2015).  If you consider the amount of data in existence with regard to trademark and intellectual property – all those companies, all those trademarks, logos and brands – is it any wonder that this area of law has been among the first to see the exploitation of automated systems?  The standard approach to conducting a trademark search is a detailed review of the proposed brand, potential names and whether any other companies exist.  But lawyers will appreciate that it doesn’t end there – we need to consider whether there is any similarity with other brands; after all our clients don’t want to potentially face a claim for passing off simply by virtue of the fact that their customers might mistake the product for another brand altogether.  This is where TrademarkNow gets interesting, because it will go beyond the generic search, beyond even a search for similar names and brands based on phonetics, colour or make up; in the event of a potential match, Trademark now uses AI to review that particular match’s history of defending its brand, producing a risk profile and an analysis of the likelihood that the proposed brand will make it onto the trademark register. Lex Machina is a Stanford based company that offers data analytics tools to lawyers in the field of IP litigation.  Consider a typical approach to litigation – the client comes to you with a claim that another party has infringed their intellectual property rights in whatever product or service they offer to their customers (or, similarly, that another party has accused your client of infringing their intellectual property rights).  You take their information, you use your understanding of commercial law and intellectual property interspersed with research from a handful of cases and you assess the merits of their claim or defence.  Lex Machina toss aside the merits of the claim.  Instead they use data analytics to analyse the behaviour of opposition, counsel and judges across a range factors to provide a forecast result.  Put simply, it has the potential to accurately predict the outcome of a case with a much greater degree of certainty than any human, because it has the time; it has the inclination (that is to say as far as it is possible for a machine to possess such a trait); and it has the ability to analyse huge volumes of data that a lawyer just would not have the time to conduct (unless of course the client is happy to pay them their hourly rate – and then some – to do so).  It has quite aptly been dubbed “Moneyball for Lawyers” (Doherty 2014). I feel that it is necessary again to come back to the worry that AI, in practice, will spell cuts for lawyers.  To the contrary, Anna Ronkainen (the co-founder of TrademarkNow) disagrees with any assertion that AI is only going to add a fifth horseman to the Apocalypse – I’m thinking Lady Justice bursting through the flames on a mighty chariot and striking down lawyers left, right and centre.  Instead, Ronkainen suggests that AI will allow lawyers to focus on more meaningful tasks by eliminating manual work, which brings us back to the point of lowering the cost of the service to clients while at the same time increasing its value (Ronkainen 2015).  She further notes how the UK “is at the global forefront of this development with professional liberalisation initiatives such as Alternative Business Structures…” (Ronkainen 2015). I am largely inclined to agree with Ronkainen.  More to the point, I continue to be excited by the ever changing face of legal technology and I am privileged to work with an organisation that is not only fully prepared to embrace these changes, but is also exploiting the potential that it holds for lawyers and making a conscious effort to dispel the fears that it will reduce the workforce.  To the cynics and the optimists alike, we can only say “watch this space”. Bibliography Altman Weil, Inc. Law Firms in Transition: An Altman Weil Flash Survey. Prods. Thomas S Clay, & Eric A Seeger. Pennsylvania, 2014. Big Data is Better Data. Directed by TED Salon. Performed by Kenneth Cukier. 2014. Doherty, Sean. “Moneyball for Lawyers.” Law Technology News, April 2014. Georgetown Law. 2015 Report on the State of the Legal Market. Georgetown Law, 2015. Hodson, Hal. “AI Gets Involved with the Law.” New Scientist, 2013: 20. Ronkainen, Anna. “Don’t Rage Against the Machine.” Intellectual Property Magazine, March 2015. Future of Artificial Intelligence and Law. Performed by Richard Susskind. ReInvent Law, 2014. TrademarkNow. TrademarkNow. May 2015. https://www.trademarknow.com/ (accessed May 2015). [1] http://www.reddit.com/r/singularity/comments/2xu2sx/moores_law_2015_mouse_brain_has_been_reached/

Case Study: Janne, Commercial Lawyer

Name: Janne Role: Commercial Lawyer Hours: Part time Background: I am a 12 years qualified Solicitor. I trained in London then moved to the North West. I spent 4 years as an employment Solicitor then moved to practice banking and finance before joining Riverview Law in October 2013. Customers: The calibre of customer that Riverview Law works with is excellent. I work for a FTSE 100 business so for me the calibre is the same as when I worked at Hill Dickinson in Liverpool. Role: I work for a global banking customer at Riverview Law. On a daily basis I review key contracts and assess the risks involved and/or identify any gaps that exist between the contacts and the banks standard / template documents. Complexity of work: I generally work on the most complex matters but I assist with providing quality assurance for more junior members of the team and less complex work. Career prospects, development and learning opportunities: Riverview Law has a great balance. There is no pressure to get promoted (unlike in private practice) but if you want to reach for the stars the opportunities are right there for you. There are opportunities coming thick and fast and if you want to develop and learn you can do no better than join Riverview Law. Flexible working: The flexible working hours have assisted me immeasurably! I have two young daughters and have been able to maintain my career and career prospects while still spending lots of time being a Mum. When my children are older my circumstances will have changed but I will not have had years out of the legal market. On the contrary I am right at the heart of it, in an incredibly dynamic environment and the balance for me as a lawyer and a Mum could not be better. I feel incredibly fortunate to work in such a flexible environment.    

Case Study: Richard, Legal Manager

Name: Richard Role: Legal Manager Hours: Full time Background:  Qualified Solicitor and Legal Manager responsible for a team of 26 staff dealing with global commercial contracts for a FTSE 100 customer. I trained in Chester and latterly worked in Liverpool advising businesses on commercial matters. Career prospects, development and learning opportunities: The development of the team is critical to the success of Riverview Law. Karl Chapman (CEO) regularly reminds the team that the future leaders of the business will be grown from within and this highlights how importantly the Board takes the development of the Riverview Law employees. As well as the normal CPD courses that Solicitors attend, we have our own internal training which is specifically tailored to the needs of the employees and we are currently rolling out a comprehensive Learning and Development Program covering not only legal development but also training in other additional skills necessary for people and business management. In addition, we currently have 7 Trainee Solicitors with a further 10 opportunities this year, we have a Legal Apprentice and there are regularly promotion opportunities across the business which will only increase as we grow. All of this is testament to how important Riverview Law holds the learning and development of its staff, particularly in the context that we are not yet 4 years old!  

Case Study: Deepak, Legal Manager

Name: Deepak Role: Legal Manager Hours: Full time Background: Before joining Riverview I spent 10 years practicing banking and securitisation law at Jones Day, a US firm based in London.  My practice focused on representing lenders as well as corporates and issuers in trade receivables, inventory finance, structured securities, and cross-border securitisations. I acted predominantly on the lender side for global banking customers. Customers: The calibre of customers, both actual and potential, is of the very highest quality.  Every customer that we currently act for is either a FTSE 100 company or an internationally recognised household name.  One of the things that surprised me the most when I switched from my previous role was that the quality and sophistication of the customers that I have the pleasure of acting for did not diminish; in fact the amount of exposure I gained to GC level contacts increased. Role: The teams I manage act for a global bank on two large, regulatory led compliance projects.  The teams analyse the bank’s legacy contracts by reference to a number of due diligence data points which allows the bank and its regulators to assess contractual exposures to key suppliers.  The outputs from these projects are used by the bank to ensure compliance within the regulatory matrix within which they operate but also as a means by which to assess the commercial content of their existing agreements, with a view to deriving maximum value from them. A key part of the role is to ensure consistency and coherence of reporting to the customer but another important element, and one of the most gratifying aspects, is the opportunity to work with, coach and offer training to young lawyers at the outset of their careers. Complexity of work: The legacy contracts that the team analyse cover the full spectrum of supply side agreements that a global entity might enter into and the complexity of the work we do varies accordingly.  In fact that is one of the most engaging aspects of the role.  In my previous guise I advised on a number of matters that were between £500m and £1 billion in value and were considered market leading but I can honestly say that it’s been a long time since I’ve felt as intellectually engaged as I have been since joining Riverview! Career prospects, development and learning opportunities: The career prospects at Riverview Law are limitless – we set our own horizons here. I’ve worked for an international law firm and have been on secondment at an investment bank but I would say that none offered as considered, structured and strategic learning and development programs as we do.  The thought, time and effort that goes into putting together training plans is nothing short of remarkable. Flexible working: The flexible working hours aspect of the role is, in my opinion, one of the most important benefits Riverview offers to its employees and one of the key things that distinguish us from other employers.

Case Study: Debbie, Solicitor

Name: Debbie Role: Solicitor Hours: Part time

Background: Solicitor, qualified in 1986. Worked mainly in contract and procurement since I qualified, for a shipping company, major electricity supplier, and public authority. I’ve been at Riverview for just over a year and have worked on one of the accounts for a FTSE 100 business. Customers: I only have personal experience of one customer, which is a FTSE 100 business and is a very large player in the financial market. I am aware that other Riverview customers are large organisations with significant assets and on that basis, the Riverview customers appear to be financially sound. On this account I deal with contract based matters, Statements of Work’s, Non-Disclosure Agreements and contractual matters of varying complexity, along with an increasing number of risk reviews and gap analyses, and appraisal and consideration of standard and individualised contracts. More recently, we have seen in increase in non-transactional work and drafted clauses widely used in contract templates. My role also involves the quality assurance of more junior staff work. Complexity of work: Some work is fairly straightforward, but increasingly the volume and the complexity of the work is becoming more significant. Many contracts/terms/documents are long detailed and complicated, requiring reviews of and advice on significant risks and liabilities. Career prospects, development and learning opportunities: Riverview are very positive about recruitment and development of staff generally. They encourage employees to develop their skills and this contributes to their ability to progress within the business. Riverview are very pro-active in encouraging staff members to share knowledge with other staff, and have a robust Learning and Development program in place. Flexible working: The ability to work flexible hours at Riverview Law has assisted me greatly. That was one of the things that attracted me to Riverview. They have a very positive attitude to flexible working wherever possible.  

Case Study: Angela, Legal Manager

Name: Angela Role: Legal Manager Hours: Full time

Background:  I completed my training contract at DLA Piper in Manchester, then qualified into the Projects team at Addleshaw Goddard in 2006.  I moved to McGrigors in 2008 (which was a mid-size national firm, with a new Manchester office) and was promoted to Senior Associate in 2012.  McGrigors later merged with Pinsent Masons, where I worked until joining Riverview in October 2013. My experience before Riverview was focused on long-term, bespoke public-private partnership models (acting primarily for house builders and local authorities). I joined Riverview Law in October 2013 as I was looking for somewhere with a different culture to a large national law firm, where I could enjoy a good work-life balance while continuing to grow and challenge myself professionally.  After joining Riverview, I was almost immediately seconded to a FTSE 100 business to work full time in their legal team, which was my role for 15 months, until January 2015.  This was a fabulous opportunity to work in-house for a global organisation, and included a lot of interesting legal work.  I learnt a lot in that time and really enjoyed the work and the people.  The highlight of my secondment was a week-long business trip to Mexico (as our customer’s sole legal representative) to negotiate and finalise a complex long-term services agreement. I currently manage a team of 11 Business Law Executives / Solicitors in relation to a large financial compliance contract review project, which is a great opportunity to develop my people management skills.  The team are great and everyone pulls together to deliver a great service for our customer. Customers: The calibre of customer at Riverview Law is excellent.  We work for a number of global organisations and household names (which came as quite a surprise to me when I found out who they were!). Role: I manage a team of 11 people who review and report on a wide range of commercial agreements, as part of a significant compliance project for a global bank. Complexity of work:  While on secondment, I led on the negotiation of 10 year global framework agreements, and also local agreements in relation to services to be provided in the USA, Canada, France, Mexico and Turkey (amongst others) – which was excellent quality work. In my new role, the contracts we review and report on can be extremely complex with lots of bespoke drafting, or they can be more “standard” agreements on the bank’s standard terms.  We review all kinds of commercial agreements, so the complexity varies significantly on a contract by contract basis.  This allows our team members to gain a solid understanding of commercial agreements, and keeps the work stimulating and challenging. Career prospects, development and learning opportunities: Riverview offers everyone the opportunity to develop their own careers in the way they would like to develop them.  As a solicitor, I really like that fact that there isn’t the usual “single track” option of “making it” (or not!) as a Partner at Riverview – and we certainly don’t operate in a hierarchical way, as your typical traditional law firm might.  I find it really refreshing that a lawyer could apply for a Client Manager (non-legal) role here, for example, and for it not to be seen as a “step down”.  Riverview offers me the opportunity to continually challenge and develop myself professionally.  There is also a lot of change here, as we are growing really quickly, so there is always an opportunity to get involved in a new role or project, which keeps it exciting! I have been very fortunate in my time at Riverview in being given the opportunity to work in-house for the first time (on a secondment basis), which allowed me to develop and learn a great deal about how in-house legal teams work, and how they interact with their commercial colleagues in the business to get deals done.  The company also supports people who want to move between accounts / teams for a new challenge, which means that you can continually challenge yourself and learn new things.  Riverview allows everyone to drive their own careers in whatever direction they want– so you can aim for whatever role you want in the business and go for it! Flexible working: Before I joined Riverview, I worked in a series of large national firms, where it was unusual to leave the office on time, and the culture was to work long hours and record lots of chargeable time in order to meet your billing targets.  Here, there are no chargeable-hours targets, which allows everyone to just focus on doing a really good job for the customer (rather than worrying about how much time you have spent on a matter or how much you have billed).  It also means that I can make plans at the evening and stick to them, and be confident that my weekend plans won’t be overtaken by work demands.  We work hard, and might work late from time to time when needs be, but late nights are definitely not the norm.  I now have a good work-life balance, which I was starting to think just wouldn’t be possible as a lawyer!  I have never looked back!

Jeremy Clarkson – sacked by the BBC – tips for dealing with misconduct in the workplace

Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking by the BBC this week has caused a divide in public opinion. Did Director General Tony Hall act correctly when he sacked one of the BBC’s most successful presenters or was he left with no other option? Public opinion is one thing, but Tony Hall will have had to consider the duty of care the BBC owes to its staff and the BBC’s internal procedures for dealing with such issues. Employers are often faced with a similar question when a member of staff ‘crosses a line’ as Tony Hall described Mr Clarkson’s alleged attack on a work colleague. Employers have a duty of care towards staff and if action is required to be taken as a result of misconduct, employers have to navigate a range of employment regulations to ensure a fair procedure is followed and to avoid potential litigation. Jeremy Clarkson is likely to have been self-employed and as such it appears the BBC has followed its internal procedures and confirmed that the popular TV host’s contract would not be renewed. Many businesses have to deal with disciplinary issues regarding their employees – the procedures for dealing with employee misconduct issues can be more complex than when dealing with self-employed individuals, as employees are afforded additional employment law protection. We’ve considered some top tips on how to deal with employee disciplinary issues in the workplace.

Top tips

Follow a road map – once you become aware of a disciplinary issue, take some time to prepare your approach. Familiarise yourself with your company disciplinary policies and follow them. Refer to the Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures. Consider whether there have been any similar cases in the past whereby a precedent has been set. Consider who is in the driving seat – Designate roles within the process at the outset so that the right people are involved at each stage to conduct investigations, hearings and appeals. Ideally, to ensure impartiality, you should have a different senior member of staff conduct each stage in the process. Don’t stall – it’s essential that disciplinary issues are dealt with promptly. This is particularly the case when you are dealing with a potential gross misconduct issue. Consider whether suspension of the employee is necessary. Be aware of your reaction times – a disciplinary process can take many twists and turns. New information or evidence may come to light at any point in the process. Make sure you react to new information and be prepared to conduct further investigations if necessary, before moving onto the next stage in the process. Complete a log book – you should record all stages in the process and all evidence that you have relied upon should be documented. If the case did result in an Employment Tribunal claim being made against your company you will need to demonstrate that a decision to dismiss was fair. Often Employment Tribunal cases will not be heard until over a year after the event. Memories fade and witnesses may have left the business. Consider documenting the decision making process and outline what factors impacted the decision to dismiss. Get underneath the bonnet – Don’t pre judge the case. Listen impartially to the employee and any witnesses. Fully consider the factual evidence before you prior to making a decision. An Employment Tribunal could deem a dismissal to be unfair if they determine that the dismissal was pre-determined.   The Acas Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures has recently been revised. You can see a copy of the revised version here.  

Proposed Increase in Court Fees: A deterrent to spurious claims or a barrier to justice?

Every Claimant, who issues legal proceedings through the court system, is required to pay a court issue fee (this also applies to Defendants who issue a counterclaim). The issue fee payable is directly linked to the sum claimed. Following a consultation in December 2013, on proposals to increase court fees in a number of areas, the Ministry of Justice has recently announced it will increase issue fees for money claims from 9 March 2015. The fee increases for money claims means:

  • The fee for claims from £1 – £9,999 will remain unchanged;
  • The fee for claims from £10,000 – £199,999 will be five per cent of the claim;
  • The fee for claims for £200,000 and above will be fixed at £10,000; and
  • There will be a 10 per cent discount on fees for claims from £10,000 – £99,999 filed electronically.

The proposed increase in court fees has sparked much debate. The table below gives an idea of the percentage by which some court issue fees will increase. In some instances, the court issue fee will rise by over 600%.

Value of claim £ Fee now £ (paper) New fee £ Increase in fee £ % increase
20,000 610 1,000 390 64%
40,000 610 2,000 1,390 228%
90,000 910 4,500 3,590 395%
150,000 1,315 7,500 6,185 470%
190,000 1,315 9,500 8,185 622%
200,000 1,515 10,000 8,725 576%
250,000 1,720 10,000 8,280 481%

  The reasoning behind the proposed increases The Ministry of Justice hope to generate £120 million annually from the proposed increased court fees, as there is an argument that people using the court system do not currently pay for the full service they receive. The deficit last year was around £100 million. Accordingly, the government has taken the view that the courts cannot be immune from tough decisions in order to bring public spending in line with what they can afford. The government has explained that its proposals to increase court fees will not affect those bringing a small claim i.e. a claim under £10,000. Instead it will only affect claimants issuing claims for large monetary sums who will require a more extensive service from the court. There is also an argument that increasing the court fees will act as a deterrent to those bringing a spurious/unfounded claim, and will ensure that claimants properly consider the merits of their claim before taking the decision to issue legal proceedings. On that basis, the government has argued that it does not envisage a decrease in genuine claims. Opposition to the proposed increase in fees The Law Society has issued a pre-action protocol letter for judicial review to challenge the government’s decision to increase court fees by such a significant amount. The Law Society has argued that a substantial proportion of civil litigation should be funded by the public purse rather than wholly by the litigants themselves, as it is in the interests of the civilised society in which we live for litigants to seek redress through the court system rather than ‘take matters into their own hands’. In addition, the Law Society has questioned how the government will utilise the increased revenue and, if there is to be a major investment into the court system, queried whether this should actually lead to a decrease in court fees moving forward. The issue has sparked a lively debate in the House of Lords. One speaker has pointed out that the imposition of substantial fees has led to an 80% reduction in employment appeal tribunal applications and a 90% reduction in sex discrimination cases. The concern is that civil claims will follow this pattern and that claimants with legitimate claims will no longer be able to afford to seek recourse through the justice system. Watch this space… The debate as to whether the increase in court fees will act as a deterrent to spurious claims or as a barrier to justice looks set to continue. The court fees will increase on 9 March 2015. However, with this change comes fierce opposition. We will have to watch this space to see how this issue is resolved.  

Under the microscope: Louise, HR Administrator

Under the microscope here is Louise who is a HR Administrator. We get asked numerous questions about what it’s like to work at Riverview Law so we decided to profile some of the different roles throughout our business. We have published a series of case studies on Riverview Law employees which will give you a feel for the people within our business, the roles they undertake and what it’s like to work here.

Me: Louise 

My role: HR Administrator

What I did before joining: 

Prior to working in Riverview Law I spent 9 months working as a Client Relationship Coordinator in a HR company, this role followed on straight from my degree at Edge Hill University where I studied Early Childhood Studies.

Why I joined:    

I joined Riverview Law because I had heard nothing but positive feedback about the business. It was clear that the culture here was of key importance and that all current employees could vouch for that. Having not worked in this line of work before, it was all completely new to me. However, straight away I started noticing and understanding just how successful Riverview Law was becoming, and how much change was taking place. Being involved in this is a fantastic opportunity which would be hard to turn down.

What surprised me most in my first week at Riverview Law:

For me my first week at Riverview Law was a massive success. The week long induction that took place really displayed the six values. I met a lot of members of staff, all carrying out different roles within the business.  Time was taken to ensure that we all knew every individual is a key part of the business and all of this was done whilst having fun

What I’ve learnt since joining:

Since joining Riverview Law I have grown massively in my HR knowledge and my personal confidence. I have learnt that support is here any time, and everyone is happy to help! I have been exposed to a massive amount in my time here and Ihave been encouraged every step of the way to ask questions, give feedback and succeed in what I am doing. Not only have I learnt a huge amount in my role, I have also had the opportunity to learn about other roles within the business.

What I enjoy most about my job:

I enjoy coming into the office every day to such a pleasant atmosphere with positive and friendly people. Having such great colleagues makes coming in every day so much easier, it really is One Team! I also appreciate how many opportunities I am given to develop my HR knowledge, and learn more and more on a daily basis. The support given from my manager and other members of the team really encourages me to push myself.

How Riverview Law compares with other places I’ve worked:

I have never worked in a place where literally every individual is appreciated. The whole business regularly get updates from our Chief Executive; this allows us all to know exactly where we are as a business, and ask any questions we may have. The social side of the business is not like I’ve experienced in any previous jobs. Riverview encourages social events, many of them being organised by our Social Committee. The business understands that it is important for all employees to connect both inside and outside of work.

Why I’m still here:

There are many reasons why I am still here, the main reason being my personal development. I have noticed massively how much I have learnt since joining the business and the encouragement I have received since day one to progress within the business.  I am treated as an individual and been offered a huge amount of support to get to where I want to be. Also of course, the people here are a definite reason to stay!

What I’d say to potential applicants:

I would recommend to anyone thinking of applying to just do it! Whatever role it is for, it does not matter. When Riverview says they encourage people to be themselves, they really do mean it!

Under the microscope: Heather, Commercial Litigation Lawyer

Under the microscope here is Heather who is a Commercial Litigation Lawyer. We get asked numerous questions about what it’s like to work at Riverview Law so we decided to profile some of the different roles throughout our business. We have published a series of case studies on Riverview Law employees which will give you a feel for the people within our business, the roles they undertake and what it’s like to work here.

Me: Heather

My role: Commercial Litigation Lawyer

What I did before joining:

I worked at Hill Dickinson for 5 years. My first 2 years were spent as a paralegal in the Commercial Litigation department. This role involved managing my own caseload of debt recovery matters and assisting with complex litigation projects. I subsequently spent 2 years as a trainee solicitor. Upon completion of my training contract, I qualified into the Commercial Litigation department. My role involved managing my own caseload of small claims; fast track; insolvency and debt recovery matters. I was also heavily involved in assisting with multi-track litigation in the High Court, Technology and Construction Court and Supreme Court.

Why I joined:     

When I attended interviews for new Commercial Litigation roles, it was Riverview which ticked every box for me. The friendly laid-back culture was immediately apparent. But, more importantly, it was clear that the business was ‘going places’; not only did Riverview have an impressive customer portfolio, but they were also prepared to invest time and money in the development of their staff. This was exactly what I was looking for and I accepted the position at Riverview immediately.

What surprised me most in my first week at Riverview Law:

I was surprised at the unique induction programme, as I was not only provided with training on how to do my day-to-day job, but I was also provided with guidance on the Riverview values and culture in my Moments of Truth session.

What I’ve learnt since joining:

I have learnt to put the customer at the forefront of everything I do. When working at a traditional law firm, it is very easy to become side-tracked by financial targets and time recording. As these elements are not present at Riverview, it is much easier to remember that the most important aspect of what we do as lawyers is to provide the most efficient and effective legal solutions to our customers. I have also become increasingly aware that the use of technology is a fundamental part of providing a legal service, as technology can help our customers to make important long-term adjustments within their business.

What I enjoy most about my job:

Riverview is underpinned by 6 key values which it encourages all its employees to adhere to. The values are for employees to be innovative, enthusiastic, individual, professional, inquisitive and part of one team. It is these values which make up the unique Riverview culture, and it is the culture and the people which makes working at Riverview so enjoyable.

How Riverview Law compares with other places I’ve worked: 

I had previously only worked in a ‘traditional law firm’. Riverview is completely different. Everyone has a voice in Riverview irrespective of what job title they have, as Riverview recognise that each and every individual’s role within the business is of equal importance. Riverview also encourages a working environment which is fun. The best example of this is probably the free ice cream we have in the kitchen!!

Why I’m still here: 

Riverview strikes the balance that I am looking for in my career. I am encouraged to develop myself, work hard and to be professional, whilst alongside FTSE 100 customers. However, I am also encouraged to work in a relaxed, fun culture with a great bunch of people.

What I’d say to potential applicants:

Riverview is a completely different model to many other law firms and is changing and growing at a rapid pace. If potential applicants are prepared to embrace the inevitable changes which are currently facing the legal market, and also want to be part of a new, fresh and exciting legal business, then they should definitely apply to Riverview!!

Under the microscope: Claire, Software Development Team Leader

Under the microscope here is Claire who is a Software Development Team Leader. We get asked numerous questions about what it’s like to work at Riverview Law so we decided to profile some of the different roles throughout our business. We have published a series of case studies on Riverview Law employees which will give you a feel for the people within our business, the roles they undertake and what it’s like to work here.

Me: Claire 

My role: I recently got promoted to Software Development Team Leader.

What I did before joining:

Before joining Riverview, I worked for 2 previous companies. The first was an IT company specialising in the development of customisations for Project Server, SharePoint and CRM. Clients were mainly public Sector organisations and my responsibilities included requirement gathering, development and the deployment of solutions. My second role was for a company with a background in engineering and cabling. My role changed significantly there and I was more heavily involved in custom application development for internal purposes such as project administration and human resource management. I was also responsible for general IT support and some project management.

Why I joined:    

Although I had learnt a lot in my previous role, it involved a lot of travelling and there was little room for progression or personal growth. I joined Riverview because I wanted a new challenge and I also wanted an opportunity where I could have the chance to further my career. It was really important that I worked somewhere with a positive atmosphere where I could improve my skills and be part of a cohesive team. After going for an interview and finding out for about the role and ambitions of the company I knew it would be right fit for me.

What surprised me most in my first week at Riverview Law:

What struck me first was the friendliness of the staff and the values that are instilled from the top of the organisation down. There was a really positive vibe and the support and structure that was in place for new starters was something I was not used to.

What I’ve learnt since joining:

Having been used to working independently in the past, the biggest learning experience for me has been working as part of a team and collaborating in order to achieve our goals. This has been really rewarding and I feel I’m really gelling with my colleagues. From a technical point of view I have improved my knowledge of CRM 2011 and 2013 and I’ve also gained valuable experience of managing and leading projects.

What I enjoy most about my job:

I recently got promoted to Software Development Team Leader which  has given me the opportunity to think of new ways for us to bond as a team and get the best out of each other. I’ve really enjoyed thinking outside the box and coming up with new ideas to do this. I find I get a lot of job satisfaction from seeing our team succeed and it motivates me to keep trying new things which help us do our jobs better but can also be fun and original.

How Riverview Law compares with other places I’ve worked:

In previous roles, I’ve found that staff are not always valued and given the support and recognition they need. At Riverview there is strong leadership and well defined structure for staff to give regular feedback and raise any concerns they have through their line manager. This helps ensure people are happier and more content with their jobs and I’ve always felt that happier teams are more productive. There is also set of values that are instilled throughout the company which is genuinely adhered – again this is not something I’ve experienced in the past.

Why I’m still here:

I love working with my team and they give me plenty of motivation to stick around!   I also feel as though there is support to help me improve my skills and achieve my goals and aspirations within the company and so I don’t have any reason to leave.

What I’d say to potential applicants:

If you have worked in other places where you have not been appreciated and you have a strong work ethic, a willingness to learn and want to be part of a cohesive team of lovely people, then this is the place for you! I would highly recommend it!

Under the microscope: Adam, Trainee Solicitor

Under the microscope here is Adam who is a Trainee Solicitor. We get asked numerous questions about what it’s like to work at Riverview Law so we decided to profile some of the different roles throughout our business. We have published a series of case studies on Riverview Law employees which will give you a feel for the people within our business, the roles they undertake and what it’s like to work here.

Me: Adam 

My role: I started at Riverview Law as a Business Law Executive and recently became one of the first 7 people at Riverview Law to be awarded a Training Contract.

What I did before joining:

Prior to joining Riverview I was studying the LPC at BPP Liverpool. My studies on the LPC were highly geared towards commercial law and so it really was great timing to land the job so soon after law school. I think that part of the reason young lawyers are seldom given responsibility early on in their career is because of the delay between the end of legal study and the beginning of proper legal practice. As soon as I started at Riverview I was servicing a FTSE 100 from day 1 and was able to put my knowledge directly into practice with hands on experience and the law fresh in my mind.

Why I joined:

Riverview struck me as the Google of the legal profession. Innovation was clearly high on the agenda and it is a business that’s pushing the boundaries and changing attitudes. My experience in the profession was one bound by tradition where innovation was reserved for the ancient lawyer at the top of the tower. Typically lawyers are not considered innovators but Riverview changed that for me and continues to change those attitudes in the profession. It had a bright and refreshing approach to legal services – that immediately grabbed my attention. I also felt that I had a chance to make my mark on the business and to be creative from the beginning.

What surprised me most in my first week at Riverview Law:

It is made crystal clear from the beginning that you, as an individual, are a key part of the business and can really make a difference. I wasn’t expecting such an open plan, dynamic environment where everyone is so accessible. That was a welcome change to most law firms.

What I’ve learnt since joining:

I’ve advised on over £50m worth of commercial transactions both domestic and overseas. I wouldn’t have been able to do that anywhere else at this stage in my career. Support is there for you at all times and that’s why Riverview’s young lawyers excel. We are literally sitting in and amongst experts – there are no offices or cubicles, we’re all in one place. Riverview is always looking to nurture talent internally. What’s interesting is that you can learn about the other roles in the business and give your career a new direction if you choose to – Riverview will facilitate it. From software development to client management and HR, people often move around and gain great experience from our diversity. As an example, I’m currently learning the basics of software coding from one of our programmers!

What I enjoy most about my job:

I enjoy the client contact and managing my own cases. My role involves a lot of legal and commercial negotiations and I find that aspect of my work thrilling. I also enjoy working from customer premises through our immersion plan and really getting to know our customers’ businesses and approach. I was recently involved in a series of high value software purchases in Hong Kong and got to work with some fantastic people and stakeholders across the business. Our work is global and our presence in the market is expanding – it’s an exciting place to be.

How Riverview Law compares with other places I’ve worked:

I have never worked in such a lively office where everyone is connected on both a professional and personal level. Riverview values its personalities and everyone who visits comments on our culture. The organisation recognises that you’re a person first and a lawyer second; that you have a social life and need to enjoy your work in order to excel at it. We even have a pool table and an ice cream freezer – key differentiators for me. Our socials are some of the best I’ve been to and are put together by our fantastic social committee! It’s a vibrant place and it is changing every day.

Why I’m still here:

First and foremost – the people! Our teams aren’t service delivery vehicles, they’re friendship groups. I can honestly say that I would gladly share a pint with every single member of the Riverview team bar none. You’re also treated as a valued professional, no matter your level of experience, practice area or lawyer/non-lawyer. Everyone has their own background and experience which creates a diverse group of interesting people who bring that into work. It is because of our people that we’re ahead of the curve and at the forefront of developments in the legal market. You get that feeling when you walk through our doors – it truly is an exciting place to work.

What I’d say to potential applicants:

You absolutely have to apply. We’re not paying lip service when we say “be yourself”. We mean it. Your legal knowledge and experience is a given; we want fantastic lawyers, but what can you offer over and above that? That’s what our customers ask of us and why they’re working with us – added value. Show off your personality and just be you. If you don’t like what we have to offer, I would be incredibly surprised – but you’ll get a free ice cream in the process.

Under the microscope: Sarah, Finance Manager

Under the microscope here is Sarah who is Finance Manager. We get asked numerous questions about what it’s like to work at Riverview Law so we decided to profile some of the different roles throughout our business. We have published a series of case studies on Riverview Law employees which will give you a feel for the people within our business, the roles they undertake and what it’s like to work here.

Me: Sarah

My role: Finance Manager

What I did before joining:

I am a qualified Management Accountant and spent the majority of my career working in manufacturing.  I had a career break in 2004 when I retrained as a florist. I then spent 6 years running my own Florist in Coventry before returning to accountancy in 2010.

Why I joined:

I joined Riverview Law because I was impressed with the culture and innovation within the business.  The principles applied within Riverview have been used in the corporate environment for many years but within Legal Services this is a major change.  Being involved in change and taking the business forward motivates me so Riverview Law was a perfect fit for me. The opportunity to be involved with Riverview, in what is still, early days, was one that I couldn’t resist!

What surprised me most in my first week at Riverview Law:

I was amazed the culture that was discussed and emphasised during the recruitment process was actually reality! Sometimes what is preached isn’t always practised!  Here at Riverview it is!

What I’ve learnt since joining:

Riverview Law is unique! We really are changing the way Legal Services are delivered.  I assumed, being an accountant, that MI was an integral part of managing a business.  However since joining Riverview I have discovered that this is something the Legal world has been missing out on.  Not only do we provide legal services but we also give our customers monthly management information; a  value adding service which gives them the facility to analyse their business activities more effectively.

What I enjoy most about my job:

I enjoy the fact that every day is different and that I am getting involved in projects that aren’t necessarily purely Finance focussed.  As Finance Manager I am responsible for producing the monthly management accounts for the Board of Directors and providing the Client Managers and Legal Managers with their Profit and Loss accounts in order for them to manage their team and budgets effectively.  We have monthly Profit  and Loss review meetings which are a two way process, whereby the Managers understand the Financial aspects of their Client Accounts and I get an understanding of the operational aspects of the customers’ accounts which helps me with forecasting and budgeting. As the company is growing rapidly there are many challenges that need resolving including staffing, office space and IT requirements all of which involve Finance at varying degrees.  This gives me exposure to the operational side of the business which I particularly enjoy.

How Riverview Law compares with other places I’ve worked:

Riverview Law is completely different to other places where I have worked; culture is a big thing here and we have the correct balance between work and fun. There is a positive atmosphere within the office, people enjoy being here and I think that is a combination of the openness, honesty and  our One Team culture.  Communication is vital in any organisation and here at Riverview communication is a priority.  We have weekly updates from the Chief Executive which is something the staff value considerably.

Why I’m still here:

I have only been with Riverview Law for 8 months and in this short time I have seen how the Legal Services market is changing and Riverview Law is a major player in this.  To be able to say I was there, I was part of the changes …why would you want to go anywhere else?

What I’d say to potential applicants:

Riverview Law is not a traditional law firm… if you are looking for tradition then this is not the company for you!  We have six values; one of the most important ones to me is individual.   We are encouraged to show our individuality and personality.  In my experience a culture like this is rare.  If you are the type of person that likes to make a difference and be part of the team then Riverview Law should be a consideration for you.

Under the microscope: Nicola, Client Manager & Service Delivery Team Leader

Under the microscope here is Nicola who is a Client Manager and Service Delivery Team Leader. We get asked numerous questions about what it’s like to work at Riverview Law so we decided to profile some of the different roles throughout our business. We have published a series of case studies on Riverview Law employees which will give you a feel for the people within our business, the roles they undertake and what it’s like to work here.

Me: Nicola 

My role: Client Manager and Service Delivery Team Leader

What I did before joining

Prior to joining Riverview, I worked as a Client Manager at AdviserPlus, where I met and worked alongside Karl Chapman managing a large channel partner in delivering HR advisory services to small and medium sized businesses. Prior to that I was a Statutory Advertising Manager for Lee & Nightingale Advertising where I led a team in delivering statutory advertising services to a large portfolio of clients ranging from well-known UK law firms to government entities.

Why I joined:

I was asked to assist in the launch of Riverview Law back in October 2011, and being offered an opportunity to work with Karl and other colleagues was a no brainer for me! I could see the huge potential in the business model and I was really excited about being part of such an amazing project.

What surprised me most in my first week at Riverview Law

The sheer hard work and determination of my colleagues. It was all hands to the pump and everyone got involved when required.

What I’ve learnt since joining:

I have learnt so much. My role has varied since joining. I originally joined as Office Manager to assist with recruitment, HR policies and procedures, H&S, project management, IT infrastructure – I got involved with almost everything in the early days. Once Riverview Law was an established business, I transitioned into a role of Client Manager which I was familiar with from my previous roles. My knowledge has grown so much and I have learnt something new almost every week, whether that is something about processes, systems, customers or my colleagues.  My career has developed and I believe that I have grown with each role.

What I enjoy most about my job:

How varied it is. No 2 days are the same and there is always something going on. Our customers trust us and want us to help them where we can so this keeps us busy.  

How Riverview Law compares with other places I’ve worked:

It is like no other. I have worked in small family run businesses and large corporates, neither of which have even come close to Riverview.

Why I’m still here:

I consider myself very fortunate to work with such fantastic people in such a fantastic business. The culture that Riverview possesses is infectious. Being part of something so great from the beginning makes you want to stay and see what the future holds. I am proud to say that I have been/and am part of an amazing journey and it is only just beginning! What I’d say to potential applicants: Some comments that have been made to me by various employees, work experience candidates and interns, is that they have never experienced a place quite like Riverview. Take a look at our website.  I know that it is easy for us to say how great we are, but we really are!

Under the microscope: Edmund, Legal Manager & Commercial Lawyer

Under the microscope here is Edmund who is a Legal Manager and Commercial Lawyer. We get asked numerous questions about what it’s like to work at Riverview Law so we decided to profile some of the different roles throughout our business. This is the first in a series of case studies from Riverview Law employees which will give you a feel for the people within our business, the roles they undertake and what it’s like to work here.

Me: Edmund

My role: Legal Manager and Commercial Lawyer

What I did before joining:

Before joining Riverview, I was a senior associate and part of the corporate team based in the Liverpool Office of a global law firm.  I spent lots of long days, and often nights and weekends, working on international acquisitions and disposals with a niche practice in offshore property trusts.

Why I joined:

In all honesty, when I joined Riverview Law in August 2013, I knew very little about the business or the team – there was very little to know given how new the business was and the paucity of publicly available information at the time. I accepted the invitation for an interview as I was intrigued by this “new” legal services business model and wanted to find out more about it. The interview lasted one hour, and I spent a further hour and a half meeting various members of the team based at the Wirral office (which at that time only numbered around 20!). It was the time spent at the interview, as well as the enthusiasm and positivity of the team, which convinced me that this was the right career choice for me, and I have not looked back since!

What surprised me most in my first week at Riverview Law:

The biggest surprise to me in my first week at Riverview Law was the clarity of vision of the business – not clever PR tag lines developed to promote a brand but meaningful business objectives that underpin everything each of us actually do.

What I’ve learnt since joining:

The biggest single lesson I have learnt here at Riverview Law is that there are many ways to be a lawyer. Previously, as a lawyer within a traditional private practice environment, there was only one “proper” way to progress in your legal career.  If you bill more, work excessive hours and spend all your spare time developing your own client base (all of which are more self-serving than client-focussed), you may, eventually, get a shout at partnership at some stage.  Conversely, failure to adhere to this path can be seen as a lack of ambition. Working within that type of environment, I just kept my head down and got on with it.  Stepping away from that environment and having spent time learning about the bigger picture has helped me understand how narrow and unsustainable that particular perspective is, and that we can achieve great things in law a different way.

What I enjoy most about my job:

What do I enjoy most about my job?  Easy one this – the people.  The team has grown from around 20 or so employees when I joined in August 2013 to over 100 employees (as at September 2014). Throughout this period of rapid growth the business has not only successfully retained but has also enhanced the enthusiasm, the positivity and the team culture that makes the Riverview Law business as a whole, and each and every individual within the business, so individual and unique. Is it perfect?  Absolutely not!  There are many challenges to this business, some of which are common to legal businesses and some of which are unique to Riverview Law, and the team works together and works hard to address them. Is it the best place I have ever worked?  By an absolute country mile.

How Riverview Law compares with other places I’ve worked:

Riverview Law, compared to my previous experiences of traditional private practice, is in a word – different. One of the key differences is that there is a pretty flat management structure.  Of course there are line managers and reporting lines, but no hierarchy as such – everyone has a say and everyone’s views are considered equally. Also, there is no “clock”, which from a lawyer’s perspective is hugely liberating.  In my view, formal time recording is a management device used by law firms to artificially drive individual financial performance, but it is an old fashioned construct that no longer reflects good business practice. It is not just the removal of the administrative burden of recording time and monitoring personal financials that is liberating, but the fact that it frees time up to focus on supporting and developing other members of the team.

Why I’m still here:

Back in 1996, I started my law degree and took the first steps towards a career in law with that vaguely unspecific and romanticised notion of making a difference.  Many years of commercial private practice later, I finally have the opportunity to do so.

What I’d say to potential applicants:

The most important piece of generic advice I’d give any potential applicant is to do the research and make sure you are applying to join for the right reasons. Riverview Law is a young, dynamic, fast-moving, forward-thinking, non-traditional legal services provider.  The office represents an open, collaborative workplace environment where members of the team across all roles are encouraged to take ownership of their work at a very early stage as well as to proactively contribute towards the business itself. In addition to this, applicants will get a lot of opportunities to work closely with FTSE 100 customers and to develop their legal and wider business skills accordingly. There is also a clear focus on each individual to maintain a proper work balance.  Taking a proper lunch break and leaving on time are not only not frowned upon, but actually actively encouraged! If this sounds like you, please apply!