32 ASIAN LEGAL BUSINESS – AUGUST 2023 WWW.LEGALBUSINESSONLINE.COM ROUNDTABLE money. In uncertain times, more than ever, businesses look to legal advisers who are responsive to their needs. As a global firm that continues to grow and strengthen our relationships in Asian markets, we place strong emphasis on listening to client concerns and are confident in our ability to help our clients navigate challenging environments. Sieker: Fee competition has intensified, and firms are getting more creative with their pricing strategies. While billing based on hours is still mainstream practice, alternative fee arrangements have gained popularity. We are seeing greater use of project, fixed, and retainer fees. At the same time, there has also been a push for pricing that emphasises value. Meanwhile, contingency fee arrangements have become an attractive option to control costs, particularly in China. For our firm, we are in constant discussion with our clients around how to best deliver value. This could mean leveraging our legal project management capabilities, which are some of the most extensive and advanced in the industry, or employing various tech platforms to automate elements of the work. As business and law become more value-driven, clients are looking to get the most “bang for the buck,” not just the lowest prices. Firms that are able to produce high-quality work in efficient and cost-effective ways are more likely to capture and maintain an edge in today’s highly competitive legal market. ALB: We frequently speak to lawyers who look at factors beyond compensation, such as hybrid work models, mentorship and mental wellbeing as important criteria in choosing a workplace. How do you balance culture and compensation with additional benefits in your talent engagement and retention strategy? D’Agostino: Our three values – human, bold and outstanding – are now recognised as the essential mix that makes our firm a place where our people can grow and attain their ambitions. We’ve also clearly articulated the Herbert Smith Freehills “deal,” stating what the firm provides for our people, from professional development and opportunities, through support for wellbeing, to creating an entrepreneurial and flexible environment. In return, we ask our people to excel, to go above and beyond, all within a culture which is inclusive, caring and respectful. That’s not just a plan on paper– it’s a reflection of who we are, and how we work. But it’s created a clearer framework of values and ambitions that also allows us to flex for local preferences and market norms and needs. That’s really important in Asia. Jenkins: Attracting and keeping the best people is about us getting three things right: quality of pay, quality of work, and quality of life. We will continue to offer competitive remuneration packages to staff as a centrepiece of this strategy. But we also offer generous lifestyle, wellbeing and career opportunities to support our staff. These include flexible working arrangements, such as hybrid work, a marketleading global 26-week paid parental leave scheme and subsidised health and wellbeing programmes. Most importantly, we have a longterm focus on building a leading global platform that allows our lawyers to develop fulfilling careers and do their best work at the firm. This includes making sure our people have the ability to work on market-leading matters. We also have a global mobility policy that helps lawyers transfer between jurisdictions for both short- and long-term work in other offices as well as overseas client secondments. Sieker: We recognise that people’s demands have changed drastically, and have responded with our “People Deal” strategy, where building and maintaining a strong culture and developing our people remain key focus areas for us. We offer training sessions and career development initiatives to support our people’s professional growth, and we reward exceptional performance with attractive compensation and benefit packages that we regularly benchmark against industry standards. With mental wellbeing increasingly being recognised as a crucial aspect of employee satisfaction, we have put in place a flexible work program dubbed “bAgile” to provide our people with more flexibility in managing their work-life priorities and mental wellbeing. Meanwhile, we continue to place heavy emphasis on frequent and transparent communication to keep our people feeling connected with our shared purposes and goals. At the same time, we make a conscious effort to better understand our people’s needs and concerns through regular conversations and surveys. Firms that can balance what is best for their people with what is best for their clients and their organisation will likely emerge as competitive employers. Robertson: Whilst we compensate our people competitively, we understand that compensation is not the only factor lawyers and other legal sector professionals consider. We have a mobile working policy that allows lawyers to work from home or the office, depending on client needs and the needs of our business, which gives our people flexibility. We also provide a strong mentorship program that pairs junior lawyers with experienced lawyers. In addition, as part of our benefits programme, we offer several mental wellbeing support resources, including access to counselling and mental health services, meditation and stress management workshops. ALB: Legal tech has been critical for law firm growth recently, but AI appears to have really changed the game. How would you describe your firm’s tech investments at the moment, and what role will AI play in your growth going forward? D’Agostino: Generative AI presents capabilities that will more than likely have a huge impact on the practice of law.It’s essential that we become comfortable with its use to open up opportunities, and while staying conscious of its risks and limitations.