“You can’t connect the dots looking forward: you can only connect them looking backwards. So, you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You must trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life”. – Steve Jobs
On June 7th, 2020, three months before the first pandemic lockdown, our founding partner, my father, passed away in my arms on a Sunday evening and since that moment life changed. Indacochea & Asociados, abogados1 (IA) was established in 1991 and has been known as the “disruptive law firm in Bolivia”. Based in Bolivia’s economic motor – Santa Cruz – IA has won Best Law Firm of Year Award by Chambers & Partners in two occasions and for more than 10 years, has been continuously ranked as a leading Bolivian firm by trustworthy guides such as Top Ranked Legal, Legal500, Who’s Who’s and Leaders League among others.
They say that a every Law Firm will take a hit during its lifetime, either due to a firm spin off, new entry of practitioners, potential merger and in this case the passing of a founding partner. Truth be told, we can’t predict all possible hits coming on our direction, but we must know to react, adjust, and execute. Let’s face it, the world has changed, and nothing will be the same as before. Nevertheless, you may still have the vision or know how to predict some of the situations to come but not all of them; the later is known as: improvidence.
On June 8th, 2020 IA Partners didn’t know what was coming and how big was the hit going to be. Questions wandered in my head night after night: are we ready? I’m I ready? Would we need to downsize, how will our clients react? We had received an improvident hit.
So how did IA grow 44%?
This is how we made it happen:
I. The Team, your Team.
On our 2Q/2020 meeting our accountants mentioned: “Your sales have declined, and accounts receivable have increased. Probably COVID effect, but we need to reduce costs and recommend downsizing”. Business happens at the speed of trust. If you don’t trust your team then how can any client trust your legal counseling?
When dealing with an improvident hit, your top of mind must be your team. The hit doesn’t only worry the owners, it worries everybody. Hold an immediate staff meeting and let everybody know what happened and what are the next steps. After a hit, the team needs trust and vision. On June 15th, IA gave the most profound and straightforward message to all 40 employees. We showed trust, confidence and helped the team feel empowered. This was not the only thing we did, please note Annex A. This is how our BHAG was born.
II. The Clients; your clients.
We can’t forget who pays for the bills off course. Clients are the invaluable asset of the legal industry. When the hit comes, you must exceed your clients’ expectations and stay closer than ever, otherwise after a hit they have the perfect excuse of you go. Likewise, they have all the right to doubt if your legal services will also be affected and this is how IAx Liquid Lawyer was born.
Now, our clients do not only receive IA’s legal advice from a legal point of view, but we also added: business and finance focus, LegalTech expertise and more over our lawyers now have a business mindset that a deal or business opportunity must be closed in pro of our client’s needs. IA lawyers now serve a 360 legal and business approach. In the past year, 100% of our attorneys have taken finance, LegalTech and business administration courses and executive programs from the best graduate schools.
III. The Future; your Future.
As mentioned above, businessmen, Law Firms, or any company take hits every day, but only those who learn from them and adapt shall succeed. If we still think that technology won’t affect our lives, you are not reading between lines and you are not envisioning the future.
The legal industry has been taken technology hits for many years, but lawyers’ ego was bigger than the threat. Internally we named the tech hit as the Ninja Bot (silent but lethal) or as it is known LegalTech. The legal industry has taken a US$ 240 Billion hit up to 2020 due to the vast automated LegalTech platforms that are reducing your administrative work. A couple of years ago IA started our Startup and Innovation Department, but we took it a step further. This is how Iconekta was born (www.iconekta.com), a corporate spinoff of IA.
Iconekta® is an interactive lead generating business platform that will match business opportunities for law firm clients in a faster and secured manner. We are building a trustworthy ecosystem that will generate not only opportunities for your clients but connect them with other iconekta certified users. Inconeka reduces 90-to-120-day early stage negotiations that don’t add value and its objective is to start generating business for our clients, faster and safer.
IV. The Dots; your Dots.
Hold on! Don’t think that disruptive decisions will manage all the hits that are about to come (i.e hiring or laying off 30% of your employees, merging, splitting, quitting, etc), that would be the easy way out. Talk with your partners, departments, associates and start empowering them, if you’re not a leader be humble and step aside. Perform surveys and find out how your employees feel, revert the flaws and lead the pack until you sense that you have gained their trust and then and only then you could, invested to succeed in life. “There is no I in Team”, I know it’s a catchy phrase, but believe me when you take the hit you must have your team ready to revert the situation. Roots
A couple of months ago, we changed our 30-year mantra to “Imagining wining. Always”. Winning at IA, means sharing knowledge (or experiences if you will) with peers, family, clients and the legal industry, reason for which I drafted this article. I can’t guarantee that every hit will make your firm
grow above 40%, but what I can guarantee is that you will take hits all your life, it’s the resilience attitude that makes your team a winner. Four basic focuses: Team. Clients. Future. Dots.
In sum, my experience shows that every hit is different, but they all react and affect the team and the clients. You need to analyze how you, or your company succeed, connect the dots, and start thinking of the future. Disrupt and don’t be shy, life is too short.
Finally, and most importantly, always learn from your past experiences, take them out with your team and/or clients, don’t underestimate the power of LegalTech and never forget where your dots come to conekt to the world.
Resilience: is the ability to persevere through adversity and come out stronger than you were before.