My Internship at Riverview Law

From the moment I stepped in the door, I could sense the energy at Riverview Law that I had followed throughout the past year. The open-office floor plan buzzed with activity. The company values and mission statement are placed throughout the office in visually appealing locations. “Changing the way organizations use, measure and buy legal services” and “legal input, business output” catch your eye as your view the room. The office is lit primarily by natural light from large pane windows that cover three-fourths of the walls. I had finally arrived inside the Alternative Business Structure (ABS) I had read so much about.

It Started with a Case Study, and a Tweet

My relationship with Riverview began with admiration in the summer of 2013 at MSU’s 21st Century Legal Practice program in London. One of the classes I attended focused on design thinking in the legal profession. As part of the course, we read a case study on Riverview. I became extremely interested in not only the work Riverview was doing, but its approach. Having studied business management in my undergraduate years, Riverview’s focus on applying business principles to law intrigued me.

As part of our design course, we were encouraged to begin building a professional online presence. Prior to arriving in London, I had never used Twitter significantly. We learned that Twitter can be an extremely useful tool to engage companies, find like-minded professionals, share articles, and start building a professional network.

I reached out to Riverview and began one of several conversations discussing the possibility of creating an international internship experience. Every interaction I had with Riverview over the next year added to the professionalism and customer service I had previously read about. By simply asking to speak with someone about an opportunity, Riverview responded warmly:

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Riverview and I worked together to navigate the visa requirements, and they helped me arrange all aspects of my accommodation.

“Hot Seats” and Personalization

Everyone began filtering in for day, talking about their weekends and discussing the workweek ahead.  Staff are seated in team-locations with several free “hot seats.” For example, Karl Chapman, the CEO, always changes his seating location in the office. On the opposite side of the building are six meeting rooms labeled after the company’s values: individual, enthusiastic, inquisitive, professional, positive, and one team. Inside these rooms the teams meet to discuss best practices, project status, or work privately.

Everyone took the time to stop in and say hello and ask me a question (or three) about America. Each person at Riverview has their own coffee cup with their name and a large heart on the back. Below this heart is something that each person loves, and it provides an easy way for someone new to start a conversation.

“Legal Input, Business Output”
(Data + Process = Success)

In the month I worked at Riverview, I spent each week working with a different FTSE 100 customer team. During this time, I learned how each team operated, shadowed members, participated in meetings, and performed work as a member of the team. Each week began as a new learning experience, and team members always pulled me in to answer my questions and show me their work.

Riverview is a company that prides itself on process. These processes are part of the company’s competitive advantage and what it offers its customers, and I saw the benefits. Not only do Riverview’s processes help the company itself learn and grow, but this learning experience is shared with the customer. Both the customer and Riverview work together to discover creative solutions to problems they both encounter.

These processes help drive Riverview’s ability to provide deep management information and data to its customers.  Due to barriers lifted under the Legal Services Act of 2007 for ABS firms, Riverview has been able to heavily invest in its technology platform. This platform is incredibly process driven and continues to grow to meet the team and customer needs. One of the most incredible moments I experienced with Riverview occurred in a meeting with Karl Chapman. Karl showed me the power of this management information. Capturing hundreds of data points allows Riverview to equip its general counsel customers with the ability to track trends from the legal department. The simple phrase “legal input, business output” effectively captures a sophisticated investment in technology and demonstrates Riverview’s ability to respond and grow to client demands.

The team atmosphere is amplified by the ability for any member of Riverview to add their constructive feedback.  Each person’s perspective is respected and valued. Nearly every person I spoke with had a story about how they encountered a problem or found a creative solution and described to me how comfortable they felt sharing this information to create a better process. The company values truly shine in the way team members perform and feel about their work.

  • Individual. Everyone I encountered at Riverview enjoyed talking about their interests, passions, and life outside of work. In fact, the culture at Riverview supports their individuality and has allowed its employee’s to expand their roles to meet their areas of interest.
  • Enthusiastic. Trying new things and embracing change are embedded in the DNA of Riverview.  The company has experienced tremendous growth and I spoke with team members who discussed how their agility and ability to communicate in a team setting and challenge the way their creative process has contributed to the success Riverview has enjoyed.
  • Inquisitive. Riverview’s employees are encouraged to learn more about their customers in all aspects, including how the customer operates internally. Fostering an inquisitive atmosphere has allowed Riverview’s team to provide valuable input on their work.
  • Professional. While with Riverview, I observed how each team member made themselves available to help others, or even other teams. With Riverview positioning itself as a partner with its clients, this familiarity has bred strong relationships and that trust has turned into other work streams.
  • Positive. In every meeting or team interaction I observed, each of Riverview’s employees had their input taken into account. In speaking with all members of each team, everyone had a strong sense of their role on the team and how they contribute to the process and the end-product.
  • One Team. “While we are individuals we know that when we work as a team there is no limit to what we can achieve!”  I believe that this statement best captures the totality of the enthusiasm and type of work that Riverview is performing. Building processes that adopt its user’s best practices and partnering with the client epitomizes Riverview’s mission. And I think the results are speaking for themselves.

Worst Part? Getting Schooled in the Game of Pool

The bad parts about my experience? I played a terrible game of pool and was 7-balled by one of my new friends on the table available in the break room. As part of an informal tradition, I agreed to send an e-mail apologizing for my horrible skills to the office.

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Oh, and also trying to resist the free ice cream.

riverview-law-ice-creamThis post first appeared on the blog of Riverview Law.
Featured image courtesy of Riverview Law.

 

About Brian C. Pike

Brian C. Pike
I am a second year student at Michigan State University College of Law. I am focusing on a career at the intersection of the law, technology, design, and interest-based communications. I developed these interests during my participation in Michigan State University College of Law's 21st Century Law Practice Summer Program in London, England. While in London, I learned how to integrate myself into the future practice of law. The program covered an overview of the UK's guided deregulation of its legal services, as well as design thinking for lawyers and big data applications in litigation and firm management. I have used the knowledge I gained in London as a jumping-off point into this area of study. For example, I balanced my 2nd year curriculum with fundamental legal classes as well as classes in the utilization of the statistical program "R" in a legal context. However, my technical and legal skills are better served with a design thinking approach. Design thinking is an important skill to have in the legal services industry because it allows one to craft meaningful and insightful solutions based on the customer's true needs. In addition, I have had the opportunity to receive over 200 hours of interest-based communications training at Michigan State University College of Law. This training culminated in my certification as a trained domestic and civil mediator. These communication skills will compliment my design thinking by allowing me to better communicate with those I am creating solutions for. My plan is to incorporate all relevant aspects of technology, design, and interest based communication into the delivery of legal services into my future career.

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