Westpac head shares future of in-house

By Emma Ryan|19 July 2018

The head of one of Westpac’s legal divisions has opened up on what the in-house legal environment is set to look like in the years to come.

Speaking at the Janders Dean Horizons event, held in Sydney at Pier One, Sydney Harbour on 4–5 July, Westpac head of operations compliance, legal & secretariat, Michael Boot, shared what he envisions to be the big trends on the horizon for Australia’s in-house community.

Specifically touching on what he speculates to be the in-house legal resource and workforce that will come next, Mr Boot highlighted the need for teams to adapt to a new way of thinking, caused by recent industry shake-up.

“With regulatory change, reviews, reforms, litigation and inevitable fall-out from the royal commission, it’s become clear that we need a workforce for the future. One that’s able to flex in terms of both capability and capacity,” Mr Boot said.

“I see this trend continuing with a core of highly skilled in-house professionals, supported by a wider team able to respond to [a] change in demand. This is where, I believe, the gig economy will drive the future, where we turn to young freelancers who are able to balance work and lifestyle needs from home while turning to their knowledge of new technologies and business models to market themselves.

“Freelance lawyers are adaptable, self-motivated and resilient and capable of delivering the high-quality service that businesses like ours deliver to our customers.

“The freelance market continues to boom. Growth in technology and social hubs make it increasingly possible for freelancers to secure work and skills on demand — such as [LOD] Lawyers on Demand, who incidentally are on our panel firm list — [and] continue to grow and achieve success.”

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In addition, Mr Boot predicted that a change in customer expectations will see business’ legal teams require more skills.

“As our competitors increasingly become the Amazons and Googles of the world with sleek customer interfaces and smooth delivery, simply being a technically great lawyer won’t be enough,” Mr Boot said.

“Creating an ecosystem that promotes play and having a relentless commitment to customer focus is key.”

Mr Boot concluded: “In summary, develop your strategy. Have a mechanism for delivering it and support that delivery through a workforce of the future. Hopefully you can then establish a service revolution of your own and transform with ‘business-as-usual’ to ‘transformation-as-usual’.”

Also speaking at the Janders Dean Horizons event was Ernst & Young deputy general counsel Adelyn Koh, who encouraged law firms and legal team to utilise cultural targets; Faigenbaum Family Lawyers principal Talya Faigenbaum, who spoke abut how innovation is upending family law; and DLA Piper partner Peter Jones, who highlighted the need for practitioners to effectively manage client expectations. 

Westpac head shares future of in-house
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