Size: 20-49 staff
Industry: Professional, Scientific and Technical Services
Juno Legal is a hybrid law firm and on-demand legal services business with 23 lawyers and 3 allied professionals across Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. We deliver specialist, in-house legal support to businesses across New Zealand from large to fast growth and public sector entities. Founded in 2017, Juno has been recognised as an Employer of Choice at the 2018 and 2020 Law Awards, an NZ Lawyer Innovative Law Firm of the Year in 2019 and 2020 and an NZ Lawyer Employer of Choice 2020.
Juno Legal is a new model of professional services firm where we put our people at the centre of everything we do. The wellbeing and mental health of our team comes above all other priorities. Our fully flexible model enables employees to design their careers to fit with the other things that matter to them -- yoga teaching, social enterprises, starting their own business, caring for children or fulfilling volunteer and governance roles -- while providing great client service. Juno's flat structure and egalitarian approach sees challenges and opportunities shared and openly discussed. It is a collegial, inclusive environment with lawyers who actively support each other.
Background on situation and opportunity
The problem we identified and seek to fix with our workplace is that the legal profession traditionally puts enormous mental strain on its most important taonga - its people. Most law firms allow client demands and profit considerations to outweigh the health and wellbeing of the people delivering the services. The profession is characterised by poor mental health, addictions and high suicide rates. It can also be an exclusionary profession where you either work long hours or there is no place for you resulting in a number of lawyers, particularly women, from exiting the profession due to the mental toll.
The strategy that we have developed is the basis for our entire business model. Each of our people - legal and allied - chooses their days, weeks and months of work across each year. They are supported and encouraged to work only those hours that enable them to remain mentally well and healthy and we openly discuss the challenges and progress we are making towards creating the most mentally healthy professional services firm imaginable. Juno people are well-paid for the hours they do work and they have complete autonomy in engineering their work lives. Juno's remuneration structure promote initiative and social contribution. Team members are free to develop practice areas that interest them and are rewarded for business development efforts with those clients they attract. 1% of firm profits are donated to a charity or cause that aligns with the interests of each person. Our people all have long-term development plans and a learning and development coach to help them develop as well-supported people. We also develop and share initiatives across the in-house legal profession to “lift all ships” including free resource libraries and online learning to give our people the opportunity to contribute to other people's wellbeing. Our key drivers are to provide businesses with outstanding legal services and seamless client experiences and to help lawyers live happier lives. Instead of strategic goals around size and scale of revenue or team size, we constantly track and measure employee wellness, the firm\'s overall impact on our people's lives, client NPS scores and our overall net impact on the legal profession.
As an agile holocracy, Juno is built on the ideal that all people contribute equally to the organisation and form part of the fabric of the team with both autonomy and freedom. We have implemented this approach using an iterative and team-lead dynamic. At each strategy session, we divide the team into three and get each group to pitch to the wider group on three key metrics - client experience, team wellbeing and business development. The initiatives with the most support by popular vote across all three metrics are advanced in the next period. Examples of team wellbeing and mental health support initiatives include unlimited leave and sabbaticals encouraged, EAP support, regular all-hand team meetings, Christmas and anniversary gifts, quarterly team dinners, childcare support in school holidays, a buddy and mentor system, learning and development coaching, constructive feedback sessions.
Engagement and communication
It is a collegial, supportive environment with team members who actively support and care for each other. This tone is set by the Director - Helen Mackay who shows a genuine interest and understanding of the team and their lives in and out of Juno. She supports people with endeavours beyond Juno, works collaboratively on joint projects, turns away work that would overload the team and even helps with childcare. She works intensively with each team member to ensure they have the right balance of great quality work at sustainable levels that stretches and challenges them and ensures they have the best opportunity to be mentally fit and well. The positive, engaged environment is readily apparent and means there has been very little churn within the team. In their nomination for the 2020 Law Awards, the Juno team describe Helen as “an authentic leader who looks beyond short-term profit to a broader goal of making the legal profession a better place to be. As it is a novel approach for professional services, we are asked to present our Juno team model at events as diverse as the 2020 New Zealand Judges Clerk’s conference, a Macquarie University’s Law Masters paper on innovation and the 2020 Future Firm Forum in October in Queenstown.”
To gauge the impact that Juno has had on its people, we asked our team and this is what they said: “The balance, variety and freedom are the highlights for me! I was previously in a demanding general counsel role and I am now sleeping and feeling better.” - Nikki Fisher, Juno Lawyer, yoga instructor and Mum of 2. Juno Legal is very special because of the focus on each individual lawyer in the team and the constraints they may have on their availability. “I am certain I would not be back in the profession without Helen’s encouragement of me and confidence that Juno provides high-quality work opportunities that fit with my outside commitments. I feel very grateful to work with such a capable, professional and kind team of lawyers.” - Sally Parker, Juno Lawyer and mother of 4 including 1 with special needs. “Juno has a refreshing take on what law firm culture should look like. As a team we do good work, we help each other and we have flexibility that ensures that we have time to develop other areas of our lives.” - Mitch Julian, Juno Lawyer, Dad of 1.5 and entrepreneur. “I joined Juno Legal in September, at the end of a turbulent lockdown. It was obvious that the employees of Juno legal felt connected, supported, and part of a warm whanau environment. With continued team engagement and CPD events through the year, both online and in person, Juno Legal provides a collaborative, collegial and enriching experience for its lawyers - no mean feat when none of us work in the same office.” - Wendy Chen, Juno lawyer and social entrepreneur. This impact is both sustainable and scalable because of our solemn commitment to always put our people's wellbeing first and never prioritise profits or client demands over people.
Diversity and inclusion are a key focus and development area for us. We have recently employed a new learning and development co-ordinator who is fluent in Te Reo and has strong understanding of te ao Maori. A number of our team including the Director are studying Te Reo and are committed to better understanding and embedding the principles of Te Tiriti into our company. One of the central principles of te ao Maori is whanaungatanga and we seek to embody this principle which is about relationship, kinship and a sense of family connection in everything we do. We open our team meetings with a different karakia each month and we take time to explore the meaning of this and how it can be woven into our team meeting. At our HQ strategy meeting, each person delivers their mihi whakatau and we keep developing and adding to these as we learn more. At a practical level, we ensure that we consider and embrace all aspects of diversity when we are recruiting, assembling speaking panels and pulling project teams together. Our firm acknowledges and uplifts our people and their uniqueness including in areas of neurodiversity, rainbow-queer and cultural and ethnic diversity. We are fully aware that the face of our firm does not reflect the diversity in New Zealand society and we are working hard to ensure that future Juno lawyers come from all quarters. Juno is the key organiser of a Wellington Women Lawyers' Association fundraiser in September for scholarships for disadvantaged female law students and this is one small way that we can be seen to improve health and wellbeing across the legal profession.
Innovation and creativity
The circumstances of lockdown and Covid19 have really brought our team together and given us opportunities to get creative in supporting each other and each person's mental health and wellbeing. Our central tool has been Microsoft Teams both through video calls and using the instant messaging functionality to check in with each person on a frequent basis. From structured and planned all-hands meetings to posting slice of life moments and humourous or sad feelings, Teams has enabled us to connect and share in new ways and to really get to know people as human beings first. In our Teams meetings, we use breakout sessions to create one-to-one experiences which are more welcome and appropriate for our neuro-diverse and introverted team members.
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Samantha Gadd, Founder (Humankind)
021999269 • [email protected]
Helen Mackay, Director (Juno Legal)
021858852 • [email protected]