Ex-DWF CEO Andrew Leaitherland encourages lawyers to focus on business enablement
Andrew Leaitherland may not have actually wanted to go into law, but he has become a big name in the field nonetheless. From a stint at the helm of DWF Group plc as CEO to founding his own digital law firm in arch.law, he is poised to continue making a splash in the global legal scene.
Since establishing arch.law, Leaitherland has already been making significant inroads into the Australian legal market, with the firm acquiring Nexus Law Group last December. Leaitherland believes that today’s lawyers have many new opportunities open to them as the war for talent continues.
In this February interview, Leaitherland discusses the importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset for lawyers, capitalising on the APAC market, and looking forward to the best of Michelle Obama.
What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?
I never actually wanted to be a lawyer, but it’s turned out well for me! I always wanted to do something that would enable me to work with people, helping them to realise their potential whilst also being able to develop myself. And I’m fortunate to have that perfect mix!
What is going on at the firm? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?
It’s been really exciting. Year one of arch.law has been all about building the infrastructure needed to scale. arch.law provides leading edge technology with high quality lawyers to deliver legal solutions differently for clients. The scaling process has included expanding our geographical footprint to Australia bringing together over 50 lawyers and advisers in the UK and Australia.
As we approach year two, we’ll continue to scale whilst launching a number of client-focused solutions combining the right lawyer with the best technology. You can also expect to see our geographical footprint expand even further as well.
What tech-related initiatives adopted by the firm, if any, are you most excited about?
The solutions-based approach. Year one has been about taking pain points away in areas such as client onboarding and regulatory areas such as source of funds. Year two will be building solutions with enabling technologies to make the lawyer’s job more frictionless whilst enhancing the client experience.
What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so?
Launching arch.law. I think lawyers are trained to assess risk but often do so from the negative rather than the positive – adopting a more entrepreneurial mind set for most lawyers could and will be a game changer and one that arch.law will be at the forefront of. arch.law is one of the most innovative and beneficial operating structures for quality lawyers to work together anywhere in the world.
What should the profession and law firms focus more on?
As above, broader business skills – focusing on business enablement rather than what may sometimes be prevention. The law is not simply a service – clients need a solution that enables them to rectify their problem or maximise their opportunity.
What are the challenges you expect in your practice, and in the business of law in general, going forward? What challenges are particularly pressing in the country’s legal industry?
I think for many years we have talked about the war for talent. That’s more prevalent now than it has ever been, but this also means that the lawyers rather than the law firms have a far greater opportunity to shape how they work in the future.
I hope lawyers seize the new opportunities open to them, and make the legal industry a destination of choice for a far broader range of individuals.
What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?
Continuing to scale and seeing arch.law members build their business within arch.law. Whilst CEO of DWF Group plc, we had built the Australian business to over 200 people in three years. I know the opportunities available in the APAC region and am looking forward to building another substantial digital law firm model in the southern hemisphere.
If you were given an opportunity to spend a day with anyone (living or dead), who would it be and why?
Michelle Obama – it just feels as though the best may be yet to come with her!