When Kerrie Lalich joined Lawcover Insurance eight years ago as COO, she was ready to help transform the company from the ground up. At the time, the provider of professional indemnity insurance policies to law practices had just changed the leadership team entirely, and they were looking for something new and innovative.
“I had this change agenda, which was to bring a model that worked really well in the medical indemnity insurance sphere across to lawyer indemnity. We knew we had a big job,” explains Kerrie, who is now Lawcover’s CEO.
As Lawcover is owned by the Law Society of NSW and the professional indemnity policy offered by the organisation is created by statute, it has an obligation to take on all lawyers, encouraging and supporting both good risks as well as those with poor risk profiles. But at the same time, Kerrie recognises the need to provide each law practice with a solution that works for its unique circumstances.
“We knew we didn’t want a one-size-fits-all model – we wanted to make sure we were responding to the needs of the sole practitioner, as well as those from firstand second-tier large firms that were in our remit,” she says.
Fostering a dynamic and well-balanced culture, where values are transparent from the top to the bottom, has played a central role in creating a positive working environment, according to Kerrie. Lawcover uses staff engagement surveys and customer satisfaction surveys each year to ensure there are no pressing or emerging issues.
“We started doing this in 2016 and every year the results have improved. We’re currently sitting at above 90 per cent in both customer satisfaction and staff engagement,” she says. It’s common at Lawcover for the leadership team to walk around the office and take a pulse check of how the company’s doing.
“That’s the beauty of working for a smaller organisation, because you can make sure your staff are engaged, focused on the customer and on our common goals,” Kerrie says. “That projects out onto your customers. You can feel it and it comes back straight away in our customers’ positive response to us.”
Thanks to having many of the same professional advisers for years, Lawcover has established close relationships with these partners. “Our advisers and service providers are now part of our business planning to make sure they represent an extension of our service,” Kerrie says. “Our partners actually really enjoy working and evolving with us. We’re very nimble in decision-making because we’re small. We care about them. They’re part of the Lawcover family.”
There are feedback mechanisms for customers after they renew their policy. A simple question asking, ‘How did this process go for you?’ can be responded to with a quick reply saying, excellent, good, fair or poor. “We also do this after our risk management workshops and after a lawyer has a claim,” Kerrie explains. “Once their claim is resolved, we send out a short survey asking about our service.”
Rather than focus on aggressive growth plans that take attention away from its core purpose, Lawcover is interested in offering the best service to insured lawyers who already work with it. Over the past 12 months the company created a new insurance product, a management liability policy specifically for law practices, which complements their professional indemnity policy and offers more holistic cover.
“We now not only protect lawyers for their legal work, but also the risks in running their businesses,” Kerrie says. In her experience, lawyers are trained for years to provide legal advice to clients but learn how to run the business of a law practice at around partner level, and by then it’s on the job.
Since 2018, Lawcover has also offered all insured lawyers access to cyber risk cover at no cost – another way it provides holistic support to lawyers on this growing and insidious risk. Becoming a more responsive and customer-centric company has also led Lawcover to embark on a digitisation road map. In practice, this means enhancing its newly installed core insurance application to enable customers to access Lawcover services in ways that suit them and via self-service portals.
“We need to be as responsive as we can to the changing needs and structures of law practices into the future” says Kerrie, who expects that within the next three to five years Lawcover will be on a complete digital platform. This will make purchasing insurance and dealing with claims seamless. Affordability and responsiveness are the cornerstones of this future.
“The way law practices are structured is evolving as our society changes,” she says. “There’s a whole new way that the legal profession is responding to the needs of its clients, and Lawcover is determined to keep up with that. So we are always constantly looking forward, thinking: ‘how can we respond?’”