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Legal Leaders Blog Building Strength, Confidence and Well-Being

About Sean Larkan

I am a member of  global legal industry consulting firm Edge International and practice as Edge International (Pty) Ltd (please see below). Based in Australia, I (with help from my colleagues in Edge) look after the Australasian, Asia-Pacific and Africa regions, a broad-based brief!

My passion is the legal industry, in particular assisting law firms, legal entities and in-house legal departments through the development, implementation and stress-testing of various strategies, to realise their full potential and position themselves for success and development. Something I have always enjoyed about the profession is its full of characters, no matter the country or region, and a humorous comment or two is usually only a sentence or two away.

My mantra is a simple one and I do everything I can to make it happen in practice — building strength, confidence and well-being.

This flows from experience gained over eight years as a tax/commercial law practitioner, nearly 20 years heading up leading corporate law firms in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa and seven years direct consulting experience working with the legal industry.

I understand the legal industry and the nuances of leadership and management within it, and have a proven track record delivering performance and transformational results in firms I have led and for clients I have advised and supported.

Through Legal Leaders Blog, my aim is to establish an interactive dialogue and exchange of useful information and expertise with like-minded legal industry professionals, leaders and managers about strategic issues of importance to all of us.

This will assist us all to set the direction and take the lead rather than follow the dynamic and evolving changes taking place in our industry.

I am a great believer that high calibre leadership is a critical element for legal industry organisational success; while it can be a complex subject, experience has taught me that leadership can be kept quite simple and yet still achieve first-rate results.

Practice Areas

I specialise in assisting legal industry entities with organisational assessments, development and transformation and strategic issues involving market dominance, optimising partner-team performance, governance, mergers and acquisitions and all activities necessary for strategy implementation.

I offer consulting, coaching, facilitation and speaking services.

Professional Associations

I am an accredited practitioner (AP) with Human Synergistics, formerly admitted as a lawyer in South Africa and Western Australia, will be inducted into the College of Law Practice Management (COLPM) in October 2011 and am presently undergoing certification as a Master Coach with the internationally accredited Behavioural Coaching Institute.

Education

Growing up in a small and remote farming community meant I completed my 12 years of schooling at faraway boarding schools in South Africa (Merchiston and Maritzburg College); this prepared me somewhat for a year of compulsory military training in the parachute battalion special forces of the SADF. I then enrolled at the University of Stellenbosch Law School for a BA (law) followed by the University of Natal Law School, where I completed my LLB.

After admission I practiced as a tax and commercial lawyer, completed a Tax Certificate through the University of South Africa and established and lectured the Advanced Diploma in Taxation at the University of Natal Law School.

During this period I developed an interest in and passion for leadership, management, strategy and business and decided to enroll for an MBA at Trinity College, Dublin, a great experience.

Experience

I returned to South Africa to practice in legal partnership before being appointed managing partner of Werksmans, a large Johannesburg corporate law firm. From that point I ceased to practice law and started the fascinating journey-with-no-end of developing leadership, management and strategy skills.

Werksmans was an exciting and challenging initiation—I was young (34 years) and new to a large city and large law firm life. Due to international sanctions attributable to the then ruling Nationalist Government’s apartheid policies, South Africa was subject to stringent international sanctions, inflation was running at 20 to 30 percent and interest rates were more than 20 percent! This forced us to be very innovative and fortunately I had a licence from my partners to experiment and ‘give things a go’.

This led directly to us establishing Africa’s first and now largest legal network, Lex Africa, now comprising 30 countries. We also shortened the time for property and mortgage loan transactions from a few days to a few hours by linking our computer network to bank main-frames, unique at the time. We also established a partner-team optimisation system, the Responsible Partner® program, which has since been implemented internationally.

I then had the wonderful experience of five years as CEO (managing partner) at New Zealand’s leading firm, Bell Gully. This was followed by another diverse experience with six years as managing partner of Minter Ellison, Western Australia (recently taken over by Squire Sanders).

From 2006 I ran my own consulting practice as Authentikos Consulting Group and recently as Sean Larkan Consulting. In January 2011 I joined Edge International as the Australia-based member.

Photography

With an accomplished artist Mum and keen photographer and farmer Dad, I grew up with a passion for the arts and in particular photography— in recent years I achieved a life-long ambition to formally study photography and completed  (part-time) my Masters degree in Photography at ECU. After I completed my formal leadership roles and before commencing my consulting practice, I undertook a number of challenging commercial photography assignments for Rio Tinto and Argyle Diamonds in Western Australia.

Safety training – Argyle Diamond Mine – Western Australia

 

Home

My wife Sharon assists me as General Manager, and we live in the small east coast surfing paradise of Crescent Head, NSW, Australia. Our three adult children live in Perth, Western Australia. In our spare time we run a small farm, Austral Eden Homestead, which we are re-vegetating with native trees, situated on the confluence of the Macleay and Belmore Rivers, opposite Gladstone, a short drive from our home.

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About Edge International

Edge has given advice to some of the largest law firms on both sides of the Atlantic. They are likely to be one of the strongest boutique management consultancies in the legal world.”

- The Times of London-

Founded in 1983 as the Edge Group, Edge International is today the largest strategic consultancy to the legal industry worldwide. More than a dozen specialist partners bring decades’ worth of experience and expertise serving law firms and corporate legal departments throughout the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region, Canada, South America, Australasia and Africa.

Our consulting clients have included law firms in 70 different countries ranging from small boutiques to the world’s largest, as well as corporate legal departments throughout the Fortune 100.  We help leaders of legal organizations develop, implement and stress-test strategies, bring about productivity improvements to achieve targeted growth, generate better performance, and respond quickly and profitably to rapid marketplace change.

We are:

  • industry insiders who have held senior leadership roles in law firms and legal organizations worldwide, including managing partners and C-Suite executives;
  • thought leaders in the legal services sector who constantly collaborate and share our experiences and insights to benefit our clients;
  • collaborative professionals who combine to resource projects faster and more effectively, serving our clients on terms and at times that accommodate their interests;
  • trusted advisors who place reputation before revenue, accepting no engagements and providing no counsel unless we can provide long-term value to the client; and
  • standard setters in the legal consulting business, unconditionally guaranteeing our clients complete satisfaction and total confidentiality.