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Co-creation and collaboration allied to a more knowledgeable client base calls for firms to look towards a more inclusive, innovative way of working
Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story line may have been acceptable in the past when making TV and film dramas but thanks to numerous ‘reality TV’ shows people expect far more in the way of accuracy from their entertainment. So much so that dramas such as the recent second series of Broadchurch are notable as much for their storyline as for the number of comments which instantly appeared on social media and in the press; many of them seeking to discredit the portrayal of the trial as being unrealistic.
Whilst some of these comments came from inside the legal profession, many others came from members of the general public who used knowledge gleaned from their own experiences, the internet or from other TV programmes to comment on the trial process depicted. Broadchurch is not alone in receiving instant commentary on the way in which real time and events necessarily have to be compressed and changed to deliver a compact and compelling story but it is a good illustration of the way in which our expectations have changed, and not only in the entertainment sphere either.
In all walks of life, we are seeing a growing tendency to move away from the acceptance of professionals as ‘experts’ , instead seeing them as knowledge providers who will help us to achieve our aims. This more collaborative attitude is increasingly prevalent as we move through the generations with those who have been brought up with fast internet connectivity seeing collaboration and co-creation as normal. Moreover, these latest generations are not simply willing to accept the voice of authority without question; preferring instead to research and identify potential solutions online before bringing in the experts.
This new attitude demands a completely different working methodology from professionals across the board. Co-creation and collaboration allied to a more knowledgeable client base calls for legal firms to look towards a more inclusive, innovative way of working. Clients are no longer prepared to instruct, passively accept the process and then pay the bill. They have set expectations and are prepared to work alongside their chosen legal expert to move the process forward. Due process is no longer a closed process and ‘our opinion’ is there to be questioned rather than unquestioningly accepted. Whilst some in the older generations may still be passive acceptors, the tide is turning and law firms have to look to refresh their culture, to become more innovative and sharing if they are to meet the expectations of a growing number of their clients. Everyone’s an expert? Well not quite, but unless law firms learn to leverage their expertise to meet changing expectations then they could be facing a diminishing return.