Tamyn Hearne, Associate, Radiant Law

The Radiant Law model spoke directly to my frustrations with a traditional firm — a Radiant lawyer becomes a part of the client’s business, understanding the client’s processes, objectives and appetite for risk.

Radiant Law combines legal service outsourcing with contract negotiation and dispute resolution for larger commercial contracts. It uses bespoke technology and processes to improve contracting processes and shorten sales cycles for companies with large volumes of commercial contracts.

When I first qualified as a lawyer, I worked for an e-marketing company as an in-house legal advisor. After 2.5 years, I felt that my time with the company had run its course, following which I decided to do a Master’s degree in Commercial Law at on a full time basis at the University of Cape Town. Once I completed my degree, I joined a legal outsourcing company. This was when I first came to know of Radiant Law. Before moving to Radiant Law I was working at a traditional law firm specializing in commercial law and labor law. When I heard Radiant Law had opened in Cape Town, it felt instinctively right to join the team. I have never looked back.

While I enjoyed my time in a traditional law firm it did not ignite the drive in me. I felt excluded from the “meat” of a deal. Clients provided instructions of the specifics they wanted, and we created the end document. There was a gap in engaging with the business and having insight into the ground level needs and long term objectives driving a variety of deals with a business. In the end, I felt I was just creating documents based on a checklist, with only a snap shot of a deal and the business. I didn’t feel that I was adding enough value.

The Radiant Law model spoke directly to my frustrations with a traditional firm — a Radiant lawyer becomes a part of the client’s business, understanding the client’s processes, objectives and appetite for risk. So, at the end of the day, a Radiant lawyer does not just produce a contract but becomes an integral part of the client’s business — adding value through its interaction and relationship development with legal and the business. It is this insight that allows one to become a great attorney and add real value to the client.

At Radiant, a typical client relationship begins with a pilot. That is a time when we get to know the client and the client gets to “test” Radiant. We meaningfully engage with the client and continuously ask questions (preferred positions, internal structures, processes and procedures, understanding client contracts, long term objectives, needs, wants etc.). The type of information that is gathered allows us to tailor a solution for each client and produce client-specific work materials. The work material we produce is invaluable in delivering on high volume and repeat work, and promotes knowledge sharing across the wider team. We create what we call a “Playbook.” This is a live document which captures client-specific information and evolves as we develop a deeper and more practical understanding of the client and its operations.

There are arrangements with certain clients where a Radiant Lawyer is on site for a day or two a week. The majority of us are either based from our London office or our Cape Town office. I am based in the Cape Town office. My day-to-day tasks involve managing pilots and existing clients. I work across a variety of clients and I am exposed to deals of varying complexity.

Depending on the work stream (client’s needs, type and complexity of an instruction), we refer to the information and/or processes within the client’s Playbook.

As some of the Playbooks contain a substantial amount of information, and we avoid client information sitting specifically within the knowledge realm of one person. We are always looking at ways to see how technology can assist in capturing an employee’s real time knowledge and ensure the quick and easy dissemination of Playbook information.

Compare this to how a traditional law firm typically serves its clients: One or more lawyers in the firm may or may not invest time to get to know the client. If they do, it would be exceptional that they would make the investment to get to know a client in the depth that we do, and unheard of to record their knowledge in a systematic and easily transferable way like we do. What’s more, traditional firms often shift responsibility for a client from one lawyer to another, especially from one junior lawyer to another, but without the necessary transfer of knowledge about the client and its specific needs. This is very frustrating for the client, and it limits the value that the firm may add to the client.

We are a new company, and these processes are always under development. Management supports collaborative decision making and any member of the team is heard. We are always looking for smarter ways to work, and especially looking for ways that technology can help us to work smarter.

At a traditional firm, you have your senior partners, partners, senior associates and associates. At Radiant, there is no hierarchy, there are no labels. Certainly there is deep respect for seniors. But our culture is collaborative, with a lot of transfer of knowledge from the senior lawyers to the junior lawyers. Not having those titles makes it much easier to seek information from someone senior to you. And there is no attitude that because you know less, you are worth less.

This is very important because the more and faster that knowledge transfer occurs, the more value we can add value to our clients and increase efficiency.

We do not bill by the hour. We charge on a fixed rate. I do not record my time. We are judged based on quality not quantity. We all work very hard, with an even distribution of work among the team. What never fails to amaze me is that the senior lawyers will never just leave you “high and dry.” If they know you are working long hours, they will make sure you are supported, even helping out themselves. The leaders of Radiant Law lead by example. They create an environment where you want to work hard, you want to add value and grow the business. They support an environment where your job is not a means to an end, but an activity with a purpose. This is done through joint decision making, transparency, exposure across a variety of deals, feeling valued as an employee and leadership.

I know that many people criticize law firms having a corporate structure and involving nonlawyers in ownership and management. I support the involvement of non-lawyers. As with any field of expertise they bring a different skill set to the relationship. The assumption that introducing fields outside of law will erode or corrupt the effective management of a law firm seems in my opinion an unfounded generalization. Rather, like any business relationship, there must be a careful pairing of skills, vision and personality. The top management of Radiant Law has a strong vision for the company and seeks out like-minded individuals to move the company forward.

The lawyers at Radiant are encouraged to be more than lawyers. We actively participate in generating ideas to better and grow Radiant, in addition to delivering a service that has a ground level benefit to the client. I can say that for me, working in a structure like Radiant Law has been beneficial for my personal experience and my growth. I have learned more here than I have anywhere else.

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