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Category Archives: Legal Profession

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Well dang! Those nimble NewLaw firms are at it again!

Posted in Australasia, Business Models, Change, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Strategy, Uncategorized
NewLaw around the world and particularly in Australasia are quietly begun to call some shots, pushing old ways aside and winning some important chunks of work and clients and recruiting top people in the process. (Sean Larkan - Edge International)

I recently posted on nimbler firms chipping away at others’ brands. Well, it seems they have been at it again – baking some more of BigLaw’s cake and eating a few more slices along the way. Following this theme, an Edge colleague (Jordan Furlong) and I recently published a short Inventory of NewLaw in Australia focusing… Continue Reading

Don’t let nimbler law firms bake your cake and eat it!

Posted in Australasia, Brand, Leadership, Legal Profession, Personal Brand
If we are not careful nimbler brands will bake our cake and eat it

Each year I carefully review Interbrand’s excellent report on the top 100 global brands. No professional service firm brands feature there so you may well ask, what relevance do these largely commercial or corporate brands have for law firms? The reason I do is that Interbrand provides useful summary reports as to why these brands consistently outperform… Continue Reading

Edge International Communiqué May 2013 – Firm Core Competencies, Budgeting as a Strategic Issue & Lateral Partner Integration

Posted in Financial management, Legal Profession, Management, Partners, Strategy
Nick Jarrett-Kerr on the core competence of firms (Sean Larkan, Edge International)

In the May edition of Edge International Communiqué Edge partners highlight three key focal points for legal leaders: Nick Jarrett-Kerr in ‘Core Competence and the Competitive Edge‘  considers three vital attributes that make up the core competence of a law firm,which he argues goes way beyond mere ‘competence’ – it: must imply sustainable value, in… Continue Reading

Sciaroni and Associates the new business and legal advisory in Laos

Posted in Legal Profession, Management, Strategy
Sciaroni & Associates a long-standing provider of business, corporate, commercial and legal services in Cambodia and Myanmar has announced the opening of its office in Laos (Sean Larkan, Edge International)

A long-standing powerhouse in providing legal and business/commercial/corporate advisory services out of Cambodia and Myanmar (since 1993), Sciaroni & Associates has announced  the opening of its Laos office. Daniel Noonan heads up the office. Daniel has been advising on foreign direct investment, mergers and acquisitions and commercial regulatory matters for the past 5 years.  Prior to joining… Continue Reading

Women lawyers in Australia – how you can possibly help

Posted in Australasia, Culture, Diversity, Leadership, Legal Profession, People Strategy, Trust & Respect, Values
You can help women lawyers by completing the surveys referenced in this post - please see the clickable links (Sean Larkan, Edge International)

The President of the Law Council of Australia today published a column in the ALMJ along the lines of the title of this blog post – as a request was made for readers to complete an important survey, and given the importance of the subject-matter and the tight time-frame I have taken the liberty of… Continue Reading

Old dogs can still play while the young guns surf

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Marketing, Social Media, Trust & Respect
As lawyers have moved away from more traditional relationship building practices due to other options becoming available like online social media they may be leaving a gap for canny lawyers to take advantage of. (Sean Larkan, Edge International)

Many of us who were lucky enough to be part of successful law firms of 20 years or so ago will recall how, in each of those firms, a couple of partners stood out for having impeccable client development and relationship skills. At the time we probably  assumed it was just the way things were done. There’s… Continue Reading

LEX AFRICA publishes 2013 Guide to Doing Business in Africa

Posted in Legal Profession, Professional Service Firms (PSFs)
The 2013 LEX AFRICA Guide to Doing Business in Africa - the investors, business person's and professionals 'must have' to considering commercial or legal activity in all of Africa.

The Chairman of LEX AFRICA, Werksmans partner Pieter Steyn, recently announced the publication of the comprehensive and sought after LEX AFRICA Guide to Doing Business in Africa (PDF). Long a ‘must have’ reference for anyone doing business in or undertaking legal or professional services work in Africa, this unique Guide (PDF) is updated annually and provides a… Continue Reading

Edge Communiqué: women partners, hiring nouse and social media as strategy

Posted in Brand, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media
Firms are making a dumb mistake when it comes to hiring and promoting female partners

In the April edition of Edge International Communiqué three of my partners address important issues and provide insights and outline opportunities for the legal profession: Jordan Furlong, in “Law Firms and Women Partners: You’re Doing it Wrong‘ emphasises that if firms are following typical practices in how they promote women into equity positions they are missing a strategic… Continue Reading

Silos can be insidious and damaging and come in vertical and horizontal form

Posted in Business Models, Culture, Legal Profession, Management
Silos are insidious; they can develop by stealth both vertically and horizontally and once embedded in your culture and way of doing business, can be difficult to dislodge. Left to mature they can be hugely damaging. The best bet is to recognise the danger, assess your position and start tackling the problem (Sean Larkan graphic - Edge International)

One often hears partners or legal leaders mention ‘silos’ as an issue in their firm. Mostly, firms struggle to deal with this insidious threat that can, by stealth, undermine much of what is good about a firm and over time, cause extensive damage or block progress. Also, once they are embedded in the culture and… Continue Reading

Are clients one-eyed when they choose your law firm?

Posted in Brand, Leadership, Legal Profession, Personal Brand, Uncategorized
Here's looking at you kid - the Gouldian Finch chooses its mate by using its left brain and right eye. While humans may not do precisely this we need to recognise they are all different, use different criteria to choose our firm. This is critical as it is they who determine the power or otherwise of our brands (Image: (c) www.birdsville.net.au)

The Gouldian Finch, research conducted at Macquarie University in late 2012 has shown, uses just one eye and one side of its brain to choose its partner for life. In the study published in Biology Letters the researchers found that ‘Beauty, therefore, is in the right eye of the beholder for these songbirds, providing, to our knowledge, the first demonstration of… Continue Reading

LEX AFRICA – Africa’s leading legal network, turns 20

Posted in Brand, Business Models, Legal Profession, Professional Service Firms (PSFs)
LEX AFRICA will shortly launch its dedicated blog through which it will build even stronger relationships with the African and international business and legal communities. More on this soon.

LEX AFRICA, widely regarded as Africa’s leading, and certainly its largest, law firm network, celebrates its 20th anniversary at a time when there is unprecedented interest in Africa and attention from foreign investors and businesses. From humble but determined beginnings in 1993 with just five founding firms, LEX AFRICA has grown steadily to now number 29 country… Continue Reading

Ignore your law firm capital structure at your peril

Posted in Financial management, Leadership, Legal Profession
Goldman Sachs meltdown

Law firms seldom pay much attention to their capital structures. This has certainly been the case traditionally. Management of this important area was and still is often delegated to ‘the partner who seems to have the best handle on the financial stuff‘, sometimes the banking partner as he or she works with financial institutions! Given… Continue Reading

All legal leaders need to know about growth via merger and alliance. . . and a touch of Swiss

Posted in Brand, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy, Uncategorized
The latest edition of the Edge International Review 2012 - essential reading for all legal leaders and senior managers

Alternative growth structures such as Swiss Vereins, global alliances, non-merger affiliations, expansion strategies and a great deal more is covered in the latest edition of the Edge International Review. It provides essential insights for legal leaders – in fact, just what legal leaders need to know about! The review is downloadable from www.edge.ai. Download your… Continue Reading

Is your latest big initiative truly an outflow of your vision and strategy?

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Vision
Too often, on further investigation, a strategic initiative or major issue taking up senior leadership's time and energy has not real connection with the firm's vision and strategy. Sometimes this is even the rule rather than the exception. Is it any wonder then that vision and strategy does not get enough attention or never truly gets implemented, reviewed or stress-tested. (Sean Larkan 2012)

Again and again I come across senior law firm executives who are frantically busy with or concerned about their latest ‘big thing’ but who on enquiry struggle to relate this to the firm’s vision and strategy. Sometimes the latest item getting all the attention has arisen as a few other key competitor firms are doing… Continue Reading

Salaried partnership – make it GOOD, not BAD or UGLY

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Partners
Good Bad & Ugly

Salaried partners as a proportion of total partners in law firms are on the increase. However, there are good, bad and not such good things about many implementations of the salaried partnership regime in firms. It makes real sense to ensure that your salaried partner structure is working in the best way possible. This means… Continue Reading

Your employees are far more powerful than you think

Posted in Brand, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Partners, People Strategy, Professional Service Firms (PSFs)
Firms seldom give proper credence to the fact that power lies with their employees and even potential employees in regard to their employment brands.

Law firms don’t recognise that the balance of power in relation to their employment brand lies not in their hands, but in the hands of their employees. To make matters worse, some of this power also lies in the hands of former employees, potential employees and other “employment stakeholders” such as recruitment agencies and digital media… Continue Reading

Losing high calibre lawyers or staff – don’t see it for what it isn’t

Posted in Brand, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy
When something bad happens the challenges is always to retain some equinimity and try not to see it for what it is. That doesn't mean not acting, but acting with depth and not on the surface of things in a knee-jerk way

Like finding the toilet roll  empty, or getting a puncture, some things never come at a good time. But, of course, these things do happen so most of us have learned to respond with equanimity and of course maybe even do a little forward planning! The same applies to losing a really top calibre lawyer… Continue Reading

Beware the manager who speaks with a forked tongue

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Trust & Respect, Uncategorized, Values
Forked tongue Sharon Larkan copyright

As a law firm leader one of your best returns on investment can come from appointing the right support services manager. A good manager can easily make a partner-like contribution or more to a firm. They do need to be the right calibre, the right fit and possess good levels of emotional intelligence and initiative. They… Continue Reading

Your biggest ‘hidden’ law firm expense – and how to turn it into your best return on investment

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Partners
Not utilising your fee earners is like burning a pile of dollar notes as you walk into the office every day

It is always fascinating to hear partners talk about firm finances – usually it involves a focus on fee income, very selected expenses and 100% equity partner profit. The expense focus usually hones in on areas where they feel management is wasting money, maybe on marketing, the library, IT or support staff. Mysteriously, there is… Continue Reading

Remember to walk your fence-lines

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy, Personal Effectiveness, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Strategy, Trust & Respect, Uncategorized, Values
As leaders and senior managers we need to constantly remind ourselves to 'walk the fence-lines' of our organisation, keeping in touch with what is truly happening and how people are feeling - also picking up on any great achievements by anyone, or issues which are troubling someone.

My wife and I bought a small farm three years ago. As the grazing was leased out to a beef farmer the quality of the boundary fencing was paramount. The lady we purchased from told me up-front (and has reminded me ever since!) – ‘now Sean, remember to walk your fence-lines‘.  She was essentially saying… Continue Reading