Joanna is a highly experienced lawyer with specialised expertise and interest in the health, transport and government sectors. She regularly advises a number of the key players in these highly regulated sectors in relation to a broad range of legal issues. She also has extensive experience advising private and public sector clients on commercial, regulatory, privacy and consumer law issues. Joanna is a Principal of Hive Legal, an innovative NewLaw firm which has disrupted the legal profession by doing away with time sheets, providing a flexible cloud based work environment for its team and embracing the smart use of technology and innovative solutions to assist clients.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Joanna recently to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing the industry today.
You can find the full Q&A below.
What do you see as some of the major challenges for commercial lawyers today?
Just like our clients, we have to do more with less. There is consistent pressure on increasing efficiency and reducing cost. There are exciting legal tech innovations out there that help, but they require time to assess and learn how to use.
Another major challenge is distinguishing yourself from the crowd. We can’t be all things to all people…lawyers have to find their purpose, what they are good at and passionate about, and to pursue those areas in their careers.
Your presentation will touch on maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Can you briefly discuss some key recommendations for lawyers?
A healthy work/life balance is different for everyone and changes throughout our lives depending on a number of factors. I encourage reflection about what balance means to you now and communication with relevant stakeholders about ways in which you can seek to balance all the (sometimes competing) demands. A healthy work/life balance does not necessarily mean only working 9am-5pm. Often, increasing autonomy and the feeling of control over your life increases wellbeing and resilience.
Technology clearly enables flexible work, but be ready to set limits/switch off. This is best done in conjunction with a conversation with your team and key clients so that expectations and individual needs can be met.
Be ready to ask for help or guidance if you need it.
What are 3 tips you would suggest to a lawyer needing to reduce stress?
A lawyer’s life is often stressful, but there may be ways to reduce some of the stress. I think three key strategies are:
- Prioritise, and spend time on things that promote mental and physical wellbeing, such as connecting with people, exercising, engaging in creative activities, and getting sufficient sleep
- Practice some simple mindfulness techniques and incorporate them into your day and
- Consider what aspects of your life are causing the stress and talk to somebody about them (e.g. supervisor, colleague, friend or counsellor). Most often, a solution can be found.
How can law firms move towards more flexible arrangements for their staff?
It starts with a willingness to embrace change and explore options. Sometimes what appear to be small changes, for example encouraging everyone in the team to work from home one day a week, making internal meetings after school drop off time or arranging dial in details for meetings, can make a big difference in the life of a lawyer.
Open communication about an employee’s individual needs should be a priority for every employer.
Are there any specific issues that commercial lawyers should keep on their radar in 2018?
Unfair contract terms and digital innovation (and the opportunities and challenges that it brings, including cybersecurity and privacy) should remain high on any commercial lawyer’s agenda in 2018.
You can hear more from Joanna at the 10 Points in One Day: Mornington Peninsula seminar, being held on Tuesday 27 February at the Sandhurst Club, 75 Clubhouse Lane, Sandhurst.