SHIFT Advisory founder: 'We are no good to anyone if we are spread too thin'

Prue Tyler believes that law has be a profession with different pathways

SHIFT Advisory founder: 'We are no good to anyone if we are spread too thin'
Prue Tyler

For Prue Tyler, law was the harmony of history, humanities, politics, and English. The 2023 Elite Woman has worn many hats since she started her legal career – from family law to financial services law.

She went on to be founder and director of SHIFT Advisory Limited, and is a staunch champion of the legal profession offering different pathways for lawyers, such as through NewLaw models.

In this interview, Tyler discusses the lesson she learned about planning her time wisely, tolerating differences, and embracing innovation to keep lawyers engaged.

What made you choose a career in law, and what's your favourite part of the job?

I was drawn to law as a career as it covered all of history, humanities, politics, and English. I enjoy the people and the problem solving.

I started my career in family law, and completed my Master of Law in children’s rights, but moved to practice in financial services law later in my career.  

What is going on at the organisation? Are there any new programs and initiatives that you’re particularly interested in?  

We had a successful 2023, being recognised as one of NZ Lawyer’s Employers of Choice (<100 employees) in New Zealand. Right now, SHIFT is in a period of growth and consolidation, which is super exciting.

At our recent strategy day, we refined our focus for 2024. This year, it will all be about our lawyers: growing and nurturing our SHIFT community and investing in reskilling and upskilling our lawyers and consultants. We want our lawyers to feel they are supported and set up to succeed, and we can help them with their professional development in specific areas (i.e., AI, climate etc.).

I am also passionate about DEI work and challenging systemic inequalities, SHIFT is committed to helping organisations move forward in this area. We work hard to normalise alternative work arrangements, and place value on helping our people find a balance between professional and personal life. We want to ensure the SHIFT team can shape their work experiences according to their preferences and workplace requirements.

We encourage and support our lawyers to overcome obstacles hindering their freedom to work autonomously and on their own terms. SHIFT provides a genuine pathway for our people to re-enter, or stay, on their terms: in a way that meets their needs.

What tech-related initiatives adopted by the organisation, if any, are you most excited about?

We are always looking at ways to work smarter through technology and innovation, and we use a range of platforms in our day-to-day work.

For example, we are about to trial Microsoft Copilot. We’re also really excited about our new HR information system, ELMO. The SHIFT Hub (as we call it) will go ‘live’ shortly with the aim of transforming and streamlining the way we manage our HR processes and provide a seamless experience for all our consultants. It will also facilitate ongoing communication with our consultants by providing them access to an up-to-date online dashboard, where they can stay informed about SHIFT events and other relevant information.  

What has been your proudest accomplishment in the last year or so? Or what’s the biggest lesson you learned in the past year and what advice can you give fellow lawyers about it?

2023 was a great year and I am proud of many things we achieved at SHIFT, but the highlights were:

  • Adding our values to our client terms: it felt right to share our principles and reinforce our culture, thereby contributing to a shared sense of purpose.
  • Our SHIFT end of year event in December with Jono Ridler: It was what I dreamed of six years ago when we set up SHIFT: a truly inclusive, collaborative, supportive community of people with shared values. Hearing from Jono about chasing discomfort was awe-inspiring.
  • Powrsuit sessions held as part of our Women in Leadership series in August last year: these were a great success and our clients and the SHIFT team gained immense value out of them.

The biggest lesson of 2023 was that I need to plan my time better – we are no good to anyone if we are spread too thin. 2024 goals include to be very intentional about where the team and I spend our time.  

What should the profession focus more on?

A tolerance of difference and embracing innovation and change. We must also keep lawyers engaged and involved in the profession: law has to be somewhere they can see themselves in 10 years, showcasing different pathways. SHIFT and other NewLaw models can be part of that landscape.

I also think the profession should focus more on the delivery of fantastic legal services in different ways – through AI, NewLaw, and the Future of Law.  

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 expect challenges with efficiency, climate considerations and DEI, retaining amazing young lawyers in the profession, adapting the law firm model for the new world of flexible and remote working, and managing client expectations on delivery.  

What are you looking forward to the most in the coming year?

Some passion projects (watch this space!), seeing the CPD plans we have for our lawyers come to fruition, watching them succeed and grow in their roles.  

If you weren’t in law, what do you think you’d be doing as a career?

Politics, policy, food or wellness!

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