Practice management is subjective – How Liad Hadar defines it

Practice management
30 May 2022

Subjectivity. Now there is a concept.

The fact that one thing may appear different from one person to the next, for some or other reason, often has us all flummoxed.

How can that be?

Isn’t a fact, a fact?

Well, that’s the point of subjectivity. It entirely depends on each person.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, “subjectivity” means –

the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions” i.e. “he is the first to acknowledge the subjectivity of memories

or

the quality of existing in someone’s mind rather than the external world” i.e. “the subjectivity of human perception

And therein lies the point – saying practice management is subjective and based on an individual’s own perception is what makes this such a fascinating subject.

One that has many legal practitioners talking and asking themselves what practice management means to them.

And we have been so excited at this prospect – getting people talking about the practicalities of practicing law and how they manage their own legal practice, what they do and how they go about doing it.

It is so extremely important. After all, it’s what AJS does. We help with the practicalities of running a business. A legal practice. And hearing what it means to each lawyer individually really is enlightening. Because, as we have acknowledged before, if you don’t already understand what practice management means to you, legal software will not help. We can’t work miracles. Unfortunately.

It is these practicalities (ones not traditionally taught studying law or when completing articles) that define a legal practice. That define how each lawyer operates.

And it is quite rightly, different for everyone. Each legal practitioner is unique. Therefore, each legal practice will be too.

With the above in mind, we set out to gather some vital “intel” from those in the legal industry. From those who are running their own legal practices and from those who “are in the know”.

What does practice management mean to them?

We started off our intel gathering mission by speaking to Managing Director of NVDB Attorneys, Nicholas Van Den Berg (read his article here).

This week, we are speaking to Property Law Specialist and Founder of Hadar Incorporated, Liad Hadar.

Hadar Inc describes themselves as “Swift, Strategic and Specialised” with a legion of “new age” attorneys.

And with a description like that, we figured that we were most definitely speaking to the right “legion” of attorneys.

This promises to be a highly informative read.

Meet Liad

Liad studied his LLB through the University of the Witwatersrand (WITS). After graduating in 2008, he went on to complete his articles. The same scenario, it would seem, as all newly qualified attorneys – he needed to run the gauntlet first. After being admitted as an attorney in 2011, Liad rose through the ranks at a rapid rate – from associate to director in a very short space of time.

Liad was on a mission, and nothing was holding him back.

A mission to conquer the world, perhaps? Maybe not as dramatic as that. But certainly, on a mission to change how he practiced law. For the better.

He now successfully runs Hadar Inc. A new age law firm with new age thinking. So much so that the legion of new age attorneys working at Hadar Inc call themselves “Law Firm 2.0”.

Looking back on his time studying and doing articles he had this to say about practice management as a concept –

We weren’t really taught anything about practice management during Varsity. Although having said that, I wasn’t there that often. I was a rather bad student (too busy playing FIFA), only really doing the test and exams when I had to do them. But I know they didn’t teach us anything about practice management. The closest I came to being taught anything about practice management was during the old practical legal training. But all we were really taught was “theoretical,” like how to physically open a file and deal with matters. There was no real structure to it at all”.

But Liad was extremely fortunate.

Because during his articles, he had extensive training in actual practice management. Something other fledgling lawyers did not have.

He was taught everything from top to bottom – from how to open a file all the way to how to bill a client. The main problem with this however was – it was still done in a very traditional, “old school” kind of way. And ALL by hand. Which, as is quite obvious to all of us (now anyway) – not ideal.

But based on this training, he could, technically, run a law firm. At least on a basic level. But the traditional, old-school way of doing things didn’t sit well with Liad. He didn’t agree with how he was taught to run his own practice. Like hand- writing fees – in this day and age?

And this sense of “this day and age” created a niggling feeling deep in the pit of his stomach – a law firm could be run in a far more efficient, technologically advanced way. It could be more productive and easier on an attorney’s workload. The running of a practice could be done differently. Better.

He just knew it.

So, he started off by simply converting his hand-written fees into an excel spreadsheet (hoping it would improve productivity). Liad realised that this may have been a silly exercise (again in this day and age), but it was a little more advanced. And a step in the right direction at least.

Fortunately for Liad – when he made the decision to go out on his own – he had already started the process of searching for the right legal software service provider. He had scoured the internet and looked at spec after spec – because he wanted his practice to be technologically advanced.

After meeting the team at AJS, he just felt a synergy and knew that they would be the right fit for him. Having said that, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Investing in legal software was a huge leap of faith for Liad.

Remember – he came from 10 years of traditional legal training where everything was done by hand. Understanding the software and the fact that everything could be based in the Cloud was a revelation to him. A concept that took a while for him to get his head around –

I simply could not visualise what it meant to run a practice on a cloud-based server. I just couldn’t understand what that meant”.

But he took the leap of faith and jumped right in!

Liad was determined that when he opened his doors, he would be “full-on technology and be far more fluid and efficient”.

Something Hadar Inc’s websites states with pride –

Hadar Inc is a specialist property law firm that provides swift, strategic, and cost-efficient legal services to corporate and private landlords. Our modern law-firm is led by a dynamic team that believes in adding value, not hours”.

And that speaks volumes.

Forming Hadar Inc.

As soon as Liad adopted legal software and embraced technology, Hadar Inc soared – becoming leaders in their field.

And it was important for Liad that the whole team both understood why the legal software was needed and also gain their buy in to use it from start to finish – ensuring that everyone was not only on the same page but working as one synchronized, highly efficient team.

The legal software, was indeed, used to its best advantage from the get-go.

Eveeeery-thhhing (including their files) went online via a cloud-based server, resulting in Hadar Inc being virtually paperless (“to the extent that you can be within a litigation practice”).

But the team members at Hadar Inc wanted to take their innovative ideas and embracing of legal tech (and being leaders in their field) a step further – they wanted to define them selves as “Law Firm 2.0”.

And this is a momentous moment.

Why? Well not only are they technologically advanced but they are also (crucially) people with high EQ – they care for and about their clients (which is imperative) but on a par with that is the importance of their people and their partners and everyone else they come into contact with. They are human beings first and foremost. And that is what Law Firm 2.0 is –

It is not just about being technologically advanced, it is also about being people advanced. And understanding that those two things need to go hand-in-hand”.

It’s a new age

Hadar Inc is completely online (via AJS’s servers).

They are as paperless as they can be – they DO NOT print out emails and letters and cause unnecessary wastage of paper. Something lawyers are infamous for – mounds and mounds of paper.

Embracing technology as they have, Hadar Inc is thrilled with “court online” where they are able to submit court documents online as well as simply log on to court hearings remotely. Making what was once a laborious, tedious and frustrating task (don’t even talk about the endless amounts of “lost” court papers over the years), an absolute breeze.

They have embraced things like Teams or Zoom meetings, reducing the lag time for clients driving to Hadar Inc’s offices or vice versa (although Liad admonishes that they still love face-to-face meetings and meeting their clients when they can). But, in reality, they are a Teams call away and that also makes them far more approachable. Far more reachable. And because of that, their clients always feel connected to their lawyers. Something that is vital going forward into the technologically charged future.

Dictaphones” are a swear word within Hadar Inc – “Word has a function where you can talk to it directly”. I mean come on now people! What’s the use of or need for a Dictaphone anymore?

SBA Accounting – or smart business accounting – a “plug-in” feature of AJS, is specific legal accounting software that enables Hadar Inc’s accountants to logon to the AJS system and find out the info they need. In fact, Hadar Inc has completely outsourced their bookkeeping requirements to SBA Accounting, which is extremely helpful. Why? Because its tech based, bookkeepers can logon to AJS, get all the necessary info and help Hadar Inc record their bookkeeping requirements, leaving the team at Hadar Inc to simply render the invoices and send them out – “it’s that simple”. Making fees an easy-peasy task that doesn’t need to be dreaded come month-end.

Hadar Inc also embraced the “work from home” culture long before it was enforced on everyone at the start of lockdown. They have had the ability (since moving to AJS) to work from home, work from a coffee shop (something the team has done on a number of occasions) and thanks to AJS did not have to carry physical files anywhere because it was all available online and at the touch of a button. COVID did not change how they worked. They were already set-up for whatever could happen – they were simply able to carry on and get through the tough times being able to work, to report to clients, to bill and to remain an in-sync working team – as normal (or in the circumstances as close to normal as possible). Their saving grace was already being on AJS (and being cloud based) – they could simply go home and operate as normal and survive. Which they, undoubtedly, have.

They have saved a ton of valuable billable hours by embracing technology. And are happy to continue doing so well into the future.

But Law Firm 2.0 is more than just tech and online navigation through the legal processes – their office is filled with natural light and common areas, yoga classes and fresh fruit delivered daily. “Think tanks” are held in common areas where team members meet to discuss legal issues and matters they are handling – a forum where they are able (and in fact encouraged) to get advice and help. Team “huddles” are held where team members are able to talk through issues (on both a personal or professional level) from the past week with their colleagues – get advice and let everyone know what’s going on in their lives. Get support from those around them.

They also – very proudly – have an all-female team working on a high-profile matter (not a once off, may we add). Something that is not only encouraged but actively enforced within Hadar Inc. They believe in representation of women in the workplace (their team is comprised of 65% females) as well as the representation of people of every colour and creed. Everyone deserves to be represented.

Hadar Inc. supports diversity, equality in the workplace and believes that there is a better way to make a living – they practice what they preach. And it is so refreshing.

It is a holistic, all-encompassing approach to the business of law and how to run a law firm. Because it is all connected – the practice to the technology, the technology to the people and the people to the practice. All one harmonious environment, which works seamlessly.

We could not be prouder to be associated with such a forward-thinking 2.0 law firm.

What advice does Liad have for other lawyers who are struggling to define practice management?

Remember to form a “hub”. Having a software provider that has your back (“like AJS does for Hadar Inc”). Create a place online where information is stored and where your practice can operate from. Effectively.

From day one.

Understand that you need a workplace flow management system to operate your firm. Walking into a beautiful office where you have a file or ten files – what does that mean? How do you the run a firm? It’s not about the physical office.

And that’s what practice management is – “it is the running of a law firm and the only way to do that, is to manage your workflow and your files. And the only way to manage your workflow and your files is to have a central system which AJS’s practice management software allows you to have and to operate”.

So, invest in your software (and hardware) and ensure that you are able to work from anywhere at any time. And always be ready (and able) to deal with the unforeseeable.

See also:

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)
Alicia Koch

Alicia Koch is an admitted attorney with over 10 years PQE. She has worked in law firms, has had her own legal consulting company and has been an in-house legal... Read more about Alicia Koch

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