Category Archives: Legal Partnership

Rational Analytical Thought!

Professionals spend most of their time advising clients in an analytical and rational manner. Clients are not interested in your feelings on a subject but in your analysis of it. Indeed, I would venture that most professions favour and reward the analytical over the emotional.

Analysis does not always get the right answer, but it is logical and methodical. It identifies areas of risk and areas which are unknown. By this process, the quality of decision-making is generally improved and more often than not will provide a better decision.

When dealing with a client’s problem, this approach serves well in identifying the key decision drivers or unknown or unknowable areas. When a client is closely “involved” with the subject matter of this decision (say buying a house or a company), this analytical rigour allows the professional to operate and is prized by their client.

This perspective contains an interesting irony. Are professionals able to be analytical about their own careers and practices? Do they analyse the state of their own practice, the future of their practice and its strengths and weaknesses? Do they assess the success factors for growth? Do they understand from research rather than anecdote their competiveness in price or quality compared to their competition? Indeed, do they analytically track their competition or, dare I say, even identify their competition?

I think most professionals dealing with their own lives without the detachment provided by advising someone else become very human and lose the ability to be highly objective.

The outcome is that obvious challenges to or problems inherent in their practice are tolerated rather than addressed. In other words, some of the most analytical minds in the country are sleepwalking into the future.

Should the Coalition Government continue the deregulation of law firm ownership, will you have analysed the impact of the change on your practice?


Liam Wall
Founder
BigWig Legal Network
www.bigwignetwork.co.uk

What is BigWig Legal Network?
The deregulation of UK legal structures will have a huge impact on how Law is practised and new legal services are offered. BigWig Legal Network is the UK’s first membership development organisation for fee earners in legal practices, priced for membership affordability, which will offer what legal professionals desire most of all: Accurate, dependable new insights and techniques for developing the legal services of the future.

Find out more at our monthly meetings.

Who needs a Strategy?

“Strategy”, or the “S word”, is often overused and misunderstood, probably because many organisations refer to plans as strategies when they are just plans.

A proper approach to developing a strategy involves defining where you currently are, examining anticipated developments in your market and your practice, defining your destination and, while on the journey, assessing and aligning the policies, processes and resources necessary to achieve that new vision or position.

This approach is responsive to the future, aiming to take action ahead of time to protect and grow business success. It roots current action in that view of the future and brings with it a degree of change.

If your practice uses a strategic process to define business objectives, you will know. The practice will have told you how the future looks, what your part is and why operational changes are being made or are in the pipeline. In an uncertain world, a practice with a strategy is like an airplane with a pilot and co-pilot at the helm. They constantly assess new data and, within the mission of getting from A to B, make new decisions as required. This contrasts with the autopilot setting of a practice without a strategy.

Note: If the strategy was well-considered in the first place, the need for constant change is minimal, as there ought not to be many large surprises. Using the plane analogy, the pilots do their checking for every flight, but most flights go according to plan without the need for an emergency landing!

Without the forward-looking element of the strategy, a well-run organisation can make small incremental changes based on experience. In a slowly developing market this will appear effective.

But what happens when the legal market changes quickly?

If your practice involves strategic thinking, you will have been able to weather the credit crunch well. This was a sudden change, but was heralded months before the full effects were felt. With quick and decisive action based on an updated strategy, the full effects would have been minimised and opportunities spotted to ensure growth. If this is not a description of your practice, or the one you work for, we might conclude strategic thinking is not alive and well.

Another change on the horizon since 2006 has been the deregulation of the legal market proposed by the Clementi Review, the first reforms of which should be implemented in the summer of 2011, according to the Legal Services Board.

If you do not yet have a strategy for dealing with what would be a fundamental shift in the shape of the legal market, now is the moment!


Liam Wall
Founder
BigWig Legal Network
www.bigwignetwork.co.uk

What is BigWig Legal Network?
The deregulation of UK legal structures will have a huge impact on how Law is practised and new legal services are offered. BigWig Legal Network is the UK’s first membership development organisation for fee earners in legal practices, priced for membership affordability, which will offer what legal professionals desire most of all: Accurate, dependable new insights and techniques for developing the legal services of the future.

Find out more at our Last Wednesday meetings.

Partnerships and Strategic Thought

In a recent blog I urged you to consider your strategy for the future. I believe that, whatever your position in a practice, you can to a greater or lesser degree implement a strategy for the future. Of course, the scale of that opportunity would differ if you were the senior or managing partner rather than a new trainee…….or would it?

A well-rounded strategy deals with the world as it is and not as we would like it to be. To design and implement a strategy is to sign up to new challenges and to changing your way of working. If successful, the strategy will improve profit and enable growth.

In most markets, the products and services required will change over time. If your organisation, via a strategy, is aiming to track those changes, it is inevitable that your business will change over time. In a practice this will mean people must re-train or leave the firm.

In a partnership world where years of experience are usually rewarded with the security of long-term tenure on the basis that this accumulated experience has a future value, the idea that change is inevitable is not widely accepted. To embrace it would be to suggest that the longest-serving members of a firm are not necessarily the most valuable. And yet the longest-serving are usually the partners, otherwise known as the business owners.

Depending on the future direction of the strategy, some senior members of the firm might be surplus to requirements. In my first hand experience, some of the larger and more successful partnerships do attend to this. It is not easy and as a business model partnerships do not lend themselves to these decisions.

So, in answer to my own question, partners may not be willing to design or implement strategies as they may fear that any changes may be their personal undoing. However, if partners are encouraged to wear the “business owner” hat while thinking about the business, they can take good business decisions that benefit both themselves and their business. If it is not appropriate or desirable for some partners to retrain, they could change the nature of their participation in the company by stepping aside from the hourly billing and reshaping their roles, e.g. to act as directors or even as silent partners in exchange for capital.


Liam Wall
Founder
BigWig Legal Network
www.bigwignetwork.co.uk

What is BigWig Legal Network?
The deregulation of UK legal structures will have a huge impact on how Law is practised and new legal services are offered. BigWig Legal Network is the UK’s first membership development organisation for fee earners in legal practices, priced for membership affordability, which will offer what legal professionals desire most of all: Accurate, dependable new insights and techniques for developing the legal services of the future.

Find out more at our Last Wednesday meetings.