Interview with: James Fabijancic, National Leader, Legal Practitioner Director

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What do you see as the main points that differentiate Deloitte Legal Australia from your competitors?

Deloitte Australia is known for its highly differentiated offerings, unique solutions and ever changing service offerings. It has been recognised as Australia’s Most Innovative Professional Services business and took out the Best Innovation Award overall in this year’s AFR BOSS Most Innovative Companies.

Deloitte Legal has developed its offerings and new services to legal problems using these same philosophies, technology enabled approaches and multi-disciplinary teams to address the legal aspects of our clients’ ever increasing complex problems. This thinking allows the creation of innovative approaches to traditional legal issues faster and more efficiently and provides an ability to address new and emerging issues in the business environment.

Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?

We expect to see significant growth in areas such as employment law in line with the global firm’s alliance initiative with Epstein Becker Green, growth in legal services connected to Deloitte Australia’s Conduct offering, in particular in response to the ever increasing regulatory scrutiny prevailing in the Australia market, and growth in the private market through Deloitte Australia’s trusted advisor relationship to private groups and the high net wealth community.

Further, underpinning these services is the evolution of the Legal Management Consulting business, coupled with managed services targeted at helping our clients in an innovative and agile manner in a landscape of greater unpredictability.

What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?

With a number of developments across the global firm including the launch of Deloitte Legal UK and the appointment of a new global leader of Deloitte Legal, Luis Fernando Guerra, the Australian firm is capitalising on the ability to deliver global and regionally aligned services to our clients.

The firm has also invested heavily in supporting platforms to enhance traditional legal disciplines including the adoption and integration of technologies into offerings as part of the design of these services.

Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?

Absolutely, technology is a major disruptor to the legal market generally. Using this disruptive and drawing on the learnings and skills of the broader Deloitte Consulting practice and Deloitte Digital brands allows the ability to build in existing and developing technologies to supplement high caliber lawyers in delivering services.

Technology is also changing the way our lawyers interact with our clients, including for example the ability to access data and information in an instantaneous fashion across our clients’ entire businesses to deliver better advice and larger scale solutions beyond mere advice but rather into implementation as part of Deloitte’s clients transformation projects.

Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?

Legal problems have generally been remediative or preventative in nature and potentially viewed as an impediment to business. When faced with legal challenges, we seek to engage more generally with business needs.

An example of this is the use of discovery based legal technologies to be used more broadly across businesses and allow greater real time connectivity to the legal team. By moving toward single data sets and common language, our clients are able to ensure high levels of governance and control while maintaining agility to capture new opportunities.

Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?

Clients first and foremost require trusted advisors who are aligned in working together to achieve common goals. As with the broader Deloitte firm, thinking as one with the client is at the core of service offerings and creates an enduring connection. Although lawyers have always been valued for their technical expertise, there is a clear and existing shift towards the legal function of our clients becoming a critical and strategic part of their organisation’s success. Similarly, our lawyers are working in this way and becoming solution providers and this will be more pronounced in three years time.

I see Deloitte Legal Australia continuing to challenge the way in which it offers legal services, in particular partnering with and learning from the broader Deloitte firm locally and internationally. There will be a greater number of core disciplines in the Australian practice including developing areas such as digital law and these will be shaped by client centricity in design. The way in which these solutions are delivered will be very different with our lawyers taking on broader responsibilities and changing the way they interact with clients. Our investment today in delivery platforms and technology enhanced assets will become commonplace in the client-advisor environment.