Breaking down the shackles of a stuffy and intimidating legal practice

Interview with
Karen Venables
Breaking down the shackles of a stuffy and intimidating legal practice

Karen Venables - Legal Solutions

How to create a more customer centric legal practice.

Karen Venables wears many hats as the director and founder of Legal Solutions, a law firm based in New Plymouth, which specializes in family, employment, property and commercial law. Through her determination to succeed, not only as a lawyer, but also as an entrepreneur of a business model differing from the stock standard, Karen and her team celebrate 5 years of ever-evolving growth and what the TSB Bank Taranaki Chamber of Commerce deem to be worthy of the Employer of Choice Award in 2016.

In this interview we uncover the reasons Legal Solutions has been so successful in its progressive take on the traditional law firm model. As its creation was inspired by motherhood and the need for more flexibility and control over the desired work-life balance, it would only be appropriate if the company culture also cultivated similar principles for its stakeholders.

When clients enter Legal Solutions, they may be surprised by the bright colours and welcoming décor as well as open floor plan and a child-friendly environment. Not to mention, fixed fees and cost transparency are arranged from the outset to further help put clients at ease. As the firm looks after small to medium sized businesses, farms, and every day people, Karen and her team understand the importance of minimizing stress in order to break down barriers. Having the time to build conducive relationships in order to provide tailored direction for each circumstance in conjunction with legal advice is how they add value.

Through prioritizing family and health as well as upholding values such as respect and working collaboratively, Legal Solutions continues to evolve and encourage staff to equally take pride in the growth of their business. Typically firms are hierarchical, roles are compartmentalized, and staff members are segmented. While the staff members who are not lawyers legally cannot be directors of a law firm, they are encouraged to take ownership in other ways, such as playing a role in the weekly meetings, looking after specified areas of the business such as health and safety or events, and having the support to pursue outside personal training.

Karen believes her team is largely responsible for their continued success: “The most important people in the business are the staff. Look after your staff and the staff will look after the clients.” With the help of her Co-Director, Cara Gelston, Karen strives to keep everyone on an even-keel, particularly as the company expands. “We want everyone to feel equal value when achieving goals,” says Karen. Legal Solutions encourages and supports their employees to take professional development courses as it relates to the growth of their role and the business. Concepts like flexi time and getting work done within reasonable time frames is encouraged to achieve a work-life balance. Staff members are also encouraged to request and justify annual pay rises and they each receive a share of the business’s year-end profit. “People leave roles because they aren’t challenged,” adds Karen and at Legal Solutions, it is understood that upholding values and placing precedence on the growth of their employees is key to the overall growth of the business.

Evolving, tweaking, and turning are constants for Karen. It takes “baby steps in the process of getting stuff right, and as we are always changing, next year will of course be different.” She also states that becoming a leader takes real-life practice and becoming a generous leader requires empathy and thinking the best of people. “It’s about creating team spirit and making everyone feel apart of the whole,” she states. Law firms are serious, dry and stressful at times; therefore, the aim is to break down barriers for clients and team members alike, so at the end of the day, law can be practiced at its best.

Please get in touch with Legal Solutions and visit their website for more details about their team, the legal services they provide, and what they are doing to create a great work environment.


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