Episode 3 of the Shieldcast Class Actions series is hosted by Claire Van Der Zant, Revenue Director of Shieldpay, who is joined by Pogust Goodhead's Global Chief Operating Officer, Alicia Alinia, and Chief Technology and Marketing Officer, Rich Hill.
This discussion explores how the firm’s unique approach to technology is defying the legal industries traditional practices, and why their purpose-driven approach is cementing their name as one of the UK’s leading firms in environmental group litigation.
At every level of interaction with Pogust Goodhead you get an understanding of what the firm stands for. Their ethos and distinct set of values permeate every form of communication. Whether an email, a LinkedIn post or a news article, there is genuine passion and a clear drive to win high stakes environmental and consumer cases, against some of the world’s largest corporations.
This company-wide culture and the brand the firm has created is a topic I have spoken about at length with Rich Hill, Pogust Goodhead’s Chief Technology and Marketing Officer. I wanted to bring Rich and Alicia Alinia, Global Chief Operating Officer, on our podcast to share key experiences and insights from their careers, to date, and current roles at the law firm.
We covered a lot of ground; from internal process and building a company culture through to the external expectations of managing claimants and building an impactful brand. Here’s a quick snapshot of the episode, pulling some of the key insights and advice Rich and Alicia shared from their experiences of working for a strong purpose-led law firm.
Overview1. Uniting technology and digital marketing in legal practices
Why technology and marketing need to come together to achieve success in litigation2. Claimant experience as the defining factor for success in litigation
With hundreds of firms now supporting litigation, claimant experience will determine who will be the successors in this area of law3. Leveraging other industries expert use of technology is the future for successful law firms
Customer experience is defined by every interaction people have with a brand, and this is setting the expectation that law firms need to meet4. The power of big, bold leadership in driving a legal revolution
As with any new frontier, fortune favours the bold and litigation is primed for a new way5. Why a purpose-led law firm isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a must have
The world of business has fully embraced that purpose before profit creates infinitely more value. Now is the time for the legal industry to embrace purpose.
Why being purpose-led is the recipe for success for litigation law firms
Here are five key takeaways from my conversation with Pogust Goodhead on what makes their firm stand out in the litigation space, and how they’re doing it differently to achieve success.
1. Uniting technology and digital marketing in legal practices
We kicked off the conversation by diving into Rich’s unique career and position of Chief Marketing and Technology Officer. This isn’t a traditional role in the legal sphere, but one Rich is spearheading at Pogust Goodhead, uniting the two functions to work seamlessly in tandem.
In other industries, this is becoming more commonplace. Rich explained:
“Marketing and digital marketing are synonymous now. Everyone can do digital marketing, but if you want to do it well, in advanced ways and be mature at it, you have to incorporate technology into the process.”
In his experience, the union of the two functions “allows for much more efficient and successful campaigns”. He explained that it works because “it means you have fewer silos within the firm and teams work more cooperatively together for a common goal”.
2. Claimant experience must be a defining factor to achieve success in litigation
The tools to measure the success of a law firm have shifted drastically in the last few years. Alicia explained that where firms have traditionally been ranked by 3rd party sources, such as Legal500, now a firm’s quality is measured by customer review platforms, such as Google and Trustpilot. These platforms invite customers to provide open commentary on their interactions and experiences and act as a route for future clients to feel secure that the law firm they have chosen, have the in-house expertise to represent them in court.
In Alicia’s words: “When a customer is buying a distress purchase it’s not about me as a lawyer. It's about the entire firm having a brand and a service that people can really buy into and follow.”
Rich added that consumer expectations are changing for the legal industry because the lines between where one service starts, and the other ends are being blurred by our use of technology. We jump from one app to the next and expect them all to work in the same way. In his remit as CTMO, Rich is “trying to smooth the paths as much as possible because the bar is very high” and he believes that law firms must meet, if not exceed, those expectations.
3. Leveraging other industries expert use of technology is the future for successful law firms
Looking across the commercial world, the legal sector has been one of the slowest to adopt technology and ‘go digital’. But when it comes to the fast-evolving group litigation space this approach is no longer viable. Litigation firms need to be agile and solutions-orientated to be able to keep their heads above unpredictable waters.
Rich explained that Pogust Goodhead is driving their technology forward by repurposing practices from other industries. From his experience in other roles, Rich has identified synergies between the challenges the law firm is facing and those of ecommerce, retailers and other consumer-facing industries which are “much further ahead in the way that they speak to their customers and how they manage [the customer journey]”.
“We take the best practices already developed by other industries and implement them into our platform, our approach, and our strategy. We therefore have a good chance of success.”
4. The power of big, bold leadership in driving a legal revolution
Pogust Goodhead is a relatively new firm, but it has grown and scaled internationally in a very short space of time. There are a range of determining factors for the firm’s rapid success, but one really stood out in our conversation: big, bold leadership.
Alicia told us: “A lot of people talk about innovation, changing things and working in a different way. But actually, you need leadership to give you the confidence to push against the grain. I see [Pogust Goodhead] as a real disruptor firm because we have a CEO who thinks totally differently to every other lawyer I've ever come across. He's a disruptor in this industry.”
Alicia is hopeful that “other firms will feel brave” and by having a “disruptor, flagship” firm leading the charge for change, we could see a revolution across the legal industry.
5. Why a purpose-led law firm isn’t just a nice to have, it’s a must have
Alicia explained that being a purpose-led organisation is powerful from a talent acquisition perspective – “we have people who are clamouring over themselves to come out of city firms to work for this organisation”. Alicia suggests that this is driven by a younger generation of lawyers who are actively seeking out companies that align with their values and one which gives them a stronger sense of purpose in their careers.
Rich explained that the key criteria when hiring for his team is an eagerness to do things differently, to test, learn and iterate. This is a mindset that runs throughout Pogust Goodhead and their spirit as a disruptor firm:
“We have to push boundaries. We have to think outside the box…This is a relatively new industry, there is no guidebook.”
At a recent conference in the US, Rich said he was “blown away by what they were doing”. It’s important to remember that the UK isn’t the first jurisdiction to develop a collective action regime and there is still a lot to learn from our counterparts in the US. Plus, leveraging best practice from other industries is how we’ll create best-in-class claimant experiences that will be the defining factor in success for litigation firms.
In Rich’s words, “it’s good to always try to meet new people, network and just talk, find out what’s going on”.
On that note, if you want to talk more about what’s happening in the market or learn more about how Shieldpay is building industry-leading claimant journeys with compensation payouts, get in touch here or find me on LinkedIn.
These insights are just a snippet of the conversation I had with Alicia and Rich on an episode of our Shieldcast Class Actions series. If you want to listen to the full episode, you can stream the conversation here.