Legal Business Blogs

Change management: CC appoints new COO and innovation chief as Layton unveils new strategy

Clifford Chance (CC) managing partner Matthew Layton has laid out the firm’s international strategy, aiming at becoming the ‘global law firm of choice for the world’s leading businesses’; a vision that includes introducing fresh key performance indicators, making new leadership appointments, and increasing US and Asia revenues to approximately 20% and 25% respectively over five years.

Central to overseeing the plan will be strategy consultant, Caroline Firstbrook, who Layton has appointed as chief operations officer following the step-down of Amanda Burton, as well as the firm’s Amsterdam managing partner, Bas Boris Visser, who has been made global head of innovation and business change, effective immediately.

The strategy itself sees the Magic Circle firm looking at more flexible models of service and working, making better use of technology, and improving its Continuous Improvement Programme (CIP) – which aids lawyers in determining the best approach to carrying out work – by expanding its team from six members to between 10 and 12.

The firm has also formulated some concrete measures to help ensure that the strategy is translated into revenue growth and higher profitability, including introducing new KPIs for partners and associates, improving profitability analysis, and gaining a greater understanding of client financials. Speaking to Legal Business Layton says: ‘It’s a work in progress to align those metrics with client satisfaction to a greater degree with bonuses.’  

However, the strategy will continue to be refined with the appointments of Firstbrook, who previously led a 1,000-strong strategy practice at Accenture and will now lead the firm’s global operations, and Visser, making ‘sure the best ideas from legal and operations are coming forward and able to percolate,’ says Layton.

While Firstbrook will lead a business services staff of 3,000 to help implement the plan, Visser will head up the firm’s strategy to ‘anticipate, respond and adapt to key factors shaping the legal industry’, including new technology and market entrants, a role which will involve working with IT and talent teams, as well as partners and associates.

Layton adds the firm has spent the last eight months strategising – including discussions during its annual partner conference last September – to address challenges clients and the legal industry faces, which includes an ‘increasingly complex fiscal environment and cost pressure’.

While the strategic plan was launched before Christmas and is being rolled out across the firm presently, the firm’s US and Asia regional managing partners Evan Cohen and Peter Charlton are also currently reviewing their options on boosting revenue growth. Layton gave approximated revenue targets for both regions, which currently bring in around 11% in the US, and 14% in Asia-Pacific. Layton has aspirations to increase those figures to around 20% and 20-25% respectively in the next five years while maintaining their position in the UK and Europe.

The move follows the magic circle firm’s overhaul of its corporate governance structure last summer which saw its core governance structure slimmed down to a 12-strong executive leadership group in place of its 16-member executive committee.