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2017 Winners - Client Services: Project Management

First Place

K&L Gates LLP

Reimagining the Internal Client Service Model

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Summary: In late 2015, K&L Gates’ CMO, in collaboration with the global HR function, closely reviewed the firm’s global marketing & business development (BD) team, which supports 2,000 lawyers across 46 offices and five continents. The aim of the review was to find innovative ways to deliver unsurpassed service in a universally consistent manner. As evolving practice needs and roles were identified, a significant change in philosophy was adopted in early 2016. A key feature of the change included a move away from a primarily decentralized geographic and practice-based BD support model toward an integrated global service function. Thus the collaborative support (CS) team was born, and the internal client service model was reimagined. The CS team comprises BD coordinators located in the U.S. who provide virtual support to all 22 U.S. offices regardless of their location across the country. With guidance from senior BD management, the team increases bandwidth and capacity for the department and provides a consistent and high-quality service, while engaging and offering coordinators the opportunity to shape their careers and grow professionally. The team was constructed after a 30-day intensive workshop where coordinators and senior stakeholders were able to create the structure, processes, feedback mechanism, learning approach and culture. The team committed 200 collective hours during this phase, exiting with a cohesive identity and strong purpose. Importantly, this is a key component of keeping team members engaged, especially in the context of millennials who are seeking stimulating and rewarding workloads. Key aspects of the CS team include:

  • Coordinators chose specializations to develop focused skill-sets across target practice areas and industries.
  • Empowered Mailbox. U.S. BD team members submit projects to a virtual mailbox for completion. Coordinators volunteer for projects aligning with their major, allowing them to grow as they choose projects of varying complexity.
  • Ad hoc special “elective” project coordinators can assist with which sit outside their major and contribute to the wider firm’s initiatives. They allow coordinators to make a significant impact while problem-solving with peers.
  • Workload is spread evenly, increasing visibility, collaboration and teamwork among a team that had previously not worked together.
  • Process Improvement. Relentless attention to process improvement, best practices and cross-pollination of knowledge leads to higher quality service. The CS team has handled requests from more than 30 team members and lawyers across all of the firm’s practice groups, resulting in over 1,000 successfully completed projects since April 2016. Engagement surveys taken by the team also indicate the high level of job satisfaction and engagement, outperforming the Global Engagement Index on most measures. With the pilot phase performing so well, K&L Gates is poised to roll out the CS team globally in early 2017, which will include regional support for EMEA and APAC. With the CS model, K&L Gates’ BD team is more equipped to respond to internal clients’ requests while also enhancing workflow for everyone in the department, thus providing improved external client service. The collaborative culture that organically grew out of the model improved coordinators’ daily routines, increased overall morale and fostered an organizational structure more amenable to change and continuous improvement of client service for the firm.

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With approximately 2,000 lawyers across 46 offices on five continents, K&L Gates' Marketing & Business Development (BD) function covers a wide swath in a competitive landscape. In late 2015, the CMO and global HR examined the BD structure (75 professionals globally). Following the analysis, a significant change was adopted in early 2016. A key feature of the reorganization included a move from a decentralized geographic and practice-based BD support model toward an integrated global service function. BD coordinators in the U.S. were restructured into a single unit called Collaborative Services (CS), managed by an associate director. Goals:

  • Improve workflow and bandwidth by ensuring work is handled with the right experience level
  • Provide dependable and world class client service
  • Offer coordinators opportunities to develop new/hone existing skills
  • Ensure input from all stakeholders
  • Develop metrics to evaluate workload, efficiency and best practices

Three critical choices were made:

      1. Dispersed Team. Coordinators to offer virtual support to all 22 U.S. offices irrespective of their home office.
        2. Grow Global. CS team piloted in the U.S. with global expansion in 2017.
          3. Design Lab. Participation in intensive 30-day workshop to create the structure, processes, feedback mechanism, learning approach and culture that was then tested for two weeks (200 collective hours).
        Core features:
      1. Majors. Coordinators chose majors to develop focused skill-sets across target practice areas/industries.
      2. Empowered Mailbox. U.S. BD team submits projects to a virtual mailbox for completion. Coordinators volunteer according to their major.
      3. Electives. Coordinators can assist with special 'elective' projects outside their major.
      4. Collaborative. Workload is spread evenly, increasing visibility, collaboration and teamwork.
      5. Process Improvement. Relentless attention to process improvement, best practices and and cross-pollination of knowledge.

Since launch, the team handled requests from more than 30 BD team members and lawyers, involving virtually all of the firm’s practice groups. Additionally, engagement surveys conducted with the team indicate the high level of job satisfaction, outperforming the Global Engagement Index on most measures. This is particularly relevant in the context of the younger members of the team, as the CS approach has been designed in such a way that engages and stimulates millennials, resulting in higher performance and greater professional development. Overall, the process has led to more satisfied clients and team members with some impressive outputs:

  • 1050 projects had been completed by the CS team since Apr. 1, 2016
  • 60 percent of the projects were handled by a coordinator not located in the requester's office
  • 40 percent of the projects were for a requestor that had no local coordinator to assist them.