2 min read August 2022 — Kelly Hart Attorneys brings a community-focused ethic to the legal services it has been providing its clients over the last 40 years, with 150 legal experts covering 20 specific disciplines, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. Invest: spoke with Marianne Auld, managing partner of Kelly Hart, about trends shaping the legal services industry, attracting and retaining top talent and how the firm is giving back to the local community.
What have been some of Kelly Hart’s highlights and achievements over the past two years?
Despite the uncertainty that characterized 2020 and 2021, we have continued to grow as a firm and expand both our client base and the range of services we offer. The demand that we are seeing for those services is at an all-time high. Across the board, from our litigation practice groups to our transactional practice groups and beyond, we have achieved great results for our clients. We also have been successful in attracting and promoting exceptional young talent who have impressive skill sets and who are a good fit culturally.
What sets you apart from your competitors, and what would the local legal sector be missing if Kelly Hart was not in business?
Kelly Hart has been a part of the cultural landscape in Texas since the firm was founded over 40 years ago. Although we frequently represent our clients’ interests across the country and the globe, this is home. We distinguish ourselves by being true to our Texas roots and our remarkable clients; by understanding on a deep and personal level the culture in which our clients–both long-time clients and clients who are new to Texas–are doing business; by hiring extraordinary talent who shares our commitment to providing excellent client service and to investing deeply in the communities in which we operate.
What are some of the opportunities and innovations that technology is affording you at this time?
One lesson we learned from the pandemic is that technology allows for flexibility in both where and how people work. Certainly the virtual workplace already existed prior to March 2020. Almost overnight, however, we moved from face-to-face work in offices to Zoom (or some other virtual platform) meetings and on-line coordination of activities. While currently we are happy to be back in the office on most days–where we feel we can best help our young lawyers develop their skills in their respective practice areas–we recognize that, in the right circumstances, technology can make us more efficient, which, in turn, can preserve our clients’ resources.
Kelly Hart has been nationally ranked as one of the best law firms in the country. Have you found that that success has helped you to attract and retain staff despite the ongoing labor shortage?
It always is wonderful to be recognized for the work we do, and that recognition, no doubt, puts us on the radar with potential clients, lawyers, and staff alike. But the success we have had in attracting and retaining talent results most, I think, from the effort we make to ensure that the firm and a potential hire are a good fit for each other culturally. When we invite people to join
us, our hope is that they will spend their careers here. For that to happen, it is important that our goals and priorities align on all things from client engagement to workplace environment to community involvement.
What is your assessment of the risk of employee burnout in the legal sector?
Law practice is dynamic and fast-paced. With that comes the opportunity to do exciting, oftentimes groundbreaking, work on behalf of our clients. We are extremely grateful for that opportunity. The time demands associated with the work we do can be unforgiving at times, however, which can lead to stress, exhaustion, and ultimately–if left unchecked–burnout. To ensure that our people can continue to perform at a high level, we know it is important to budget time for them to rest and recharge. Equally important in preventing burnout among our young lawyers is ensuring that they receive the guidance, supervision, and training they need to develop their professional skills. In our experience, that best happens with in-person interaction whenever possible. In fact, we have found that social interaction, both inside and outside of the office, provides a strong network of support, engagement and motivation for the entire team.
What trends do you perceive in the legal services industry?
Over the past several years, the legal services industry has changed in some interesting ways, driven primarily by advances in technology and the pandemic. When the pandemic began in 2020, we were fortunate to have in place already a number of options for client and team communication and workflow management. Those options have only increased over the last couple of years and certainly will continue to increase, allowing us to make even more efficient the ways in which we collaborate and deliver service to our clients. Another related trend that we have seen is the increased focus on data security. As technological advances help us all speed up and streamline data management, we expect that trend to continue.
What is your outlook for Kelly Hart in the short term and what are your current priorities?
We are extremely optimistic about the future of Kelly Hart, both near-term and long-term. Our client base continues to grow, and our existing clients continue to use us in new and more significant ways. As a result, one of our main priorities is to continue to attract and retain top talent who will commit themselves to client service and community engagement. We already have a team with an unwavering commitment to excellence in all that we do. Bringing on teammates who share that commitment is our top goal at the moment.
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