The New GC Toolkit: Hired help – bringing new skills to legal teams

The New GC Toolkit: Hired help – bringing new skills to legal teams

‘A good general counsel (GC) should do three things,’ says National Grid’s Alison Kay: ‘Manage the legal requirements of the business, manage their people and manage their budget.’ But as managing the legal requirements of a large business becomes more time consuming, GCs are increasingly finding it difficult to pay adequate attention to costs and staff.

‘In-house is fighting constantly for staffing and budget against compliance, enterprise risk and other areas, and teams are stretched thin just responding to demand,’ says Leigh Dance, founder and president of ELD International. ‘The GC’s time is taken by dealing with board-level issues and often there is no second tier of in-house professionals with the time or experience to implement new technology or make the case for legal operations support.’ Continue reading “The New GC Toolkit: Hired help – bringing new skills to legal teams”

Scotland: All our yesterdays

Scotland: All our yesterdays

Change always creates opportunities,’ says Nick Scott, the new managing partner at Brodies, when asked about this year’s departure of predecessor Bill Drummond. But he then quickly adopts a more cautious tone: ‘There will be no radical change to the way we will run our business.’

Scott’s reticence to herald a new era with a major pivot reflects the predicament of a leader inheriting a 20-year legacy of success. Drummond presided over a striking 122% revenue growth between 2007 and 2017, ending with a slow (by Brodies’ standards) 2% increase for the financial year 2016/17, with turnover up to £66.7m, while profit per equity partner (PEP) dropped 2% from £597,000 to £585,000. Continue reading “Scotland: All our yesterdays”

Comment: Yet unremarked, generational conflict cripples City law

Comment: Yet unremarked, generational conflict cripples City law

Our cover feature this month largely speaks for itself in assessing the changing face of partnership as Millennials begin colonising the senior ranks of City law firms. Within five years, this group will be the driving force of elite commercial advisers.

Yet this column is not about the changing attitudes of youngish lawyers, more an issue that touches so many topics in the pages of this magazine, spanning remuneration, strategy, governance and talent. Quite simply, that is the success – and much more often failure – of leading law firms in balancing the interests of their younger ranks with their older partners. Continue reading “Comment: Yet unremarked, generational conflict cripples City law”

Yet unremarked, generational conflict cripples City law

Yet unremarked, generational conflict cripples City law

Our cover feature this month largely speaks for itself in assessing the changing face of partnership as Millennials begin colonising the senior ranks of City law firms. Within five years, this group will be the driving force of elite commercial advisers.

Yet this column is not about the changing attitudes of youngish lawyers, more an issue that touches so many topics in the pages of this magazine, spanning remuneration, strategy, governance and talent. Quite simply, that is the success – and much more often failure – of leading law firms in balancing the interests of their younger ranks with their older partners. Continue reading “Yet unremarked, generational conflict cripples City law”

Eyes on ‘the prize’ – BCLP’s leaders on going all-in for transatlantic union

Eyes on ‘the prize’ – BCLP’s leaders on going all-in for transatlantic union

LB: What was the background to the merger talks?

Therese Pritchard (TP): I started it. It’s my fault. In February of 2017, I was interested in strategic growth. So looking for a firm that had the same culture and practice areas that are successful or where they were interested in growing. I did some reading. I saw enough that looked interesting that it was worth a call to Lisa. One chat led to another and eventually we invited more partners to the discussions and decided this looked like a great fit. Continue reading “Eyes on ‘the prize’ – BCLP’s leaders on going all-in for transatlantic union”

Comment: 16 easy steps to making you a great managing partner

Comment: 16 easy steps to making you a great managing partner

Recently a surprisingly popular column in Legal Business took a jaded view of the state of leadership in major law firms. The nub of our argument was that the law firm c-suite had descended into technocratic managerialism over genuine leadership, leaving once bold institutions to put off crucial decisions.

That piece drew on years of hanging around with managing and senior partners, which at times means feeling more like a leadership therapist/their mother than a reporter. But in the spirit of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness, here are my tips to successful law firm leadership. And ignore the flip tone because I mean it all. Continue reading “Comment: 16 easy steps to making you a great managing partner”

16 easy steps to making you a great managing partner

16 easy steps to making you a great managing partner

Recently a surprisingly popular column in Legal Business took a jaded view of the state of leadership in major law firms. The nub of our argument was that the law firm c-suite had descended into technocratic managerialism over genuine leadership, leaving once bold institutions to put off crucial decisions.

That piece drew on years of hanging around with managing and senior partners, which at times means feeling more like a leadership therapist/their mother than a reporter. But in the spirit of lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness, here are my tips to successful law firm leadership. And ignore the flip tone because I mean it all. Continue reading “16 easy steps to making you a great managing partner”

Comment: The golden age of law firm leadership has passed… what now?

Comment: The golden age of law firm leadership has passed… what now?

I used to say three things when asked for a view on the quality of leadership in the profession. Firstly, that it was pretty good (certainly better than commonly supposed). Secondly, the standard has generally improved (since the early 2000s). And, thirdly, the notion that law lags far behind most industries in management is nonsense (poor leadership being rife).

It was only when recently asked this by a new reporter – an experienced business correspondent but new to the profession – I realised that I could only now stand by the latter contention. After all, there is still much to be said for the disciplines of the owner-manager structure, even amid New Law disruption (and perhaps more than ever in an age that has revived the fashion for the cash-burn phase). But as someone who has met hundreds of managing and senior partners, my view is that this is a long way from the golden age of law firm leadership. Standards of operational polish have continued to improve – there is a reason that major law firms so rarely fail in the UK. That matters, but it is only part of the equation in an industry facing structural issues. Continue reading “Comment: The golden age of law firm leadership has passed… what now?”

Comment: Why law firm ‘values’ ring hollow (a call for honesty)

Comment: Why law firm ‘values’ ring hollow (a call for honesty)

Attending a conference recently for general counsel was a reminder that for all the chasm that remains between clients and law firms, they have both imbibed many of the same corporate fashions. A few years back it was all adding value and performance, now it is ‘values’, ‘authenticity’ and other forms of Diet Coke morality.

Talk to law firms, as with plcs, and without irony, you will hear much about ‘tone from the top’, ‘walking the talk’ and interchangeably using ‘piece’ when you mean ‘issue’. Which would all be fine if there was any indication this was leading to a more ethical or caring profession. It would also help if such talk resonated remotely beyond the upper echelons of the corporate and professional services worlds, and did not provoke huge cynicism in staff and clients. Continue reading “Comment: Why law firm ‘values’ ring hollow (a call for honesty)”

The golden age of law firm leadership has passed… what now?

The golden age of law firm leadership has passed… what now?

I used to say three things when asked for a view on the quality of leadership in the profession. Firstly, that it was pretty good (certainly better than commonly supposed). Secondly, the standard has generally improved (since the early 2000s). And, thirdly, the notion that law lags far behind most industries in management is nonsense (poor leadership being rife).

It was only when recently asked this by a new reporter – an experienced business correspondent but new to the profession – I realised that I could only now stand by the latter contention. After all, there is still much to be said for the disciplines of the owner-manager structure, even amid New Law disruption (and perhaps more than ever in an age that has revived the fashion for the cash-burn phase). But as someone who has met hundreds of managing and senior partners, my view is that this is a long way from the golden age of law firm leadership. Standards of operational polish have continued to improve – there is a reason that major law firms so rarely fail in the UK. That matters, but it is only part of the equation in an industry facing structural issues. Continue reading “The golden age of law firm leadership has passed… what now?”