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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

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

Many firms seek pre-eminence; few realise there is a price to pay

Posted in Brand, Partners, Strategy, Values, Vision
Many firms seek pre-eminence or some version of it. If they are truly serious about such a vision, the important thing to realise is that what it takes is leadership, seriously good leadership, not just at the top, but throughout a partnership. Firms that invest in this wisely reap the rewards. (Sean Larkan, Edge International)

Many law firm partners want their firm to either be pre-eminent or to seek pre-eminence. Few realise that there is a serious price to pay. Look at the vision statements of most firms and chances are you will find words like ‘successful’, ‘leading’, ‘premier’, ‘top’ or similar. Nothing at all wrong with that. But the… Continue Reading

Always deliver what you say you do or offer to deliver

Posted in Brand, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Strategy, Trust & Respect
Always deliver what you offer. So if you say 'contact us' make sure your website and links actually make it easy and intuitive to do just that, 'contact you'! If it does not, don't offer it as you will simply annoy actual and potential customers and lose their trust, respect and hammer their loyalty.

A fundamental of a successful brand is building trust. You build trust when other individuals who experience your service, product and brand offering trust that you will deliver on what you offer to do thereby achieving what I term ‘Brand Fusion™’. In turn this builds loyalty, that much sought-after, but rarely achieved status. But, it… 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

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

Why law firm support service groups don’t add value, and how to fix this

Posted in Brand, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Trust & Respect, Uncategorized
Sometimes support service areas do not realise their full potential due to basic inherent problems in the way they are established, viewed, structured or supported. It is worth straightening this out and turning them into strategically powerful elements within your firm.

Many support service groups in law firms do a fair job of delivering their services and work hard at doing it, but beyond that, do not ‘add value’. That is a fairly common observation we have when we undertake firm reviews for clients and my own experience having run large law firms in three jurisdictions…. Continue Reading

The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs – for legal leaders – PART THREE

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Vision
Apple comp

As highlighted in PART ONE and PART TWO of this series, there are real leadership lessons for legal leaders from the career, achievements and life of the late Steve Jobs – who in just two stints of 9 and 14 years, founded and then transformed Apple Computer into the world’s most valuable company. These were the lessons… Continue Reading

The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs – for legal leaders – PART ONE

Posted in Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Vision
Steve Jobs leadership tips for legal leaders

Walter Isaacson, author of the Steve Jobs autobiography, commented in an April 2012 Harvard Business Review article ‘The real leadership lessons of Steve Jobs‘ (subscription required), that following the publication of his book many writers have tried to draw management lessons from Steve Jobs, however, most of them, incorrectly, became fixated rather on the “rough… Continue Reading

New merged law firm in India starts in 5 key geographic locations

Posted in Legal Profession, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy, Uncategorized
India covered

A notable Indian law firm merger came into operation on 1 April 2012. The merger was facilitated by my Edge International colleague Bithika Anand  between one of the oldest law firms in India, “Udwadia & Udeshi” and one of the most dynamic young law firms “Argus Partners”. This merger is interesting given that the merging… Continue Reading

Lex Africa – the first and largest network of African law firms – 20 years on

Posted in Brand, Legal Profession, Strategy, Uncategorized, Vision
Lex Africa, Africa's first and largest network of law firms, which has been in operation for nearly 20 years, comprises 54 members in 28 countries

Lex Africa, the first and largest network of African law firms, is holding it’s annual general meeting in April 2012 in Maputo, Mozambique. I thought I would mention Lex Africa in case readers ever need assistance in Africa and want a referral to a reputable firm. I am also delighted to be attending the AGM… Continue Reading

Leadership Frame #7: the next challenge – align your various strategies

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, People Strategy, Strategy, Uncategorized
Ensuring that firm, people, marketing and brand strategy aligns and does not conflict is one of the biggest challenges of strategic planning

Strategies which have been developed by professional service firms for areas such as finance, people, marketing, brand or innovation must align with and support a firm’s overall strategy. This alignment is important for both internal (partner and staff) and external (client and other stakeholder) consumption. Small firms might say this is only for the larger… Continue Reading

Leadership Frame #6: Challenge your vision and strategy

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Professional Service Firms (PSFs), Strategy, Vision
Stress test your strategy during formulation, prior to finalisation and regularly during the implementation phase, with semi-formal and formal reviews at designated times

Challenging one’s vision and strategy somehow seems counter-intuitive, especially when so much time, effort and thought has gone into putting it together. But strategy is about achieving a competitive, and ideally a dominant positioning, and challenge it you must. Professional Service Firms (PSFs) find determining and reviewing vision and strategy a real bind. A necessary… Continue Reading

Volatile future will demand law firms bring more to the party

Posted in Australasia, Change, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Strategy, Uncategorized
Whether it be service offerings, fee levels, management of fee-related activities or developing individual brands and thought leadership around industry sector knowledge, law firms will need to think very carefully about what they bring to the client table in future

The challenging future legal and business environment which is widely anticipated will demand a lot more from law firms than providing quality legal advice. This is the view of Ian Robertson, long-standing managing partner of Holding Redlich’s Sydney office, writing in The Australian (apologies; link requires subscription or log-in) recently. This advice backs up on the… Continue Reading

Slater & Gordon and Russell Jones & Walker tie up confirms law firms as business-savvy innovators, not ‘merge or die’ desperadoes

Posted in Australasia, Brand, Business Models, Leadership, Legal Profession, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy, Uncategorized, Values
The S&G acquisition of RJ&W in the UK is a good example of successful law firms implementing carefully thought through strategy and vision

The world’s first listed legal practice, Australia’s Slater & Gordon (S&G), announced its agreement to buy national UK firm Russell Jones & Walker (RJW) for £53.8 million on the 30 January 2012.  My UK-based Edge International Partner Chris Bull joins me in this post as we consider some of the implications of this transaction and how the respective markets… Continue Reading

Wall Street Journal’s ‘law firms must merge or die’ revisited

Posted in Australasia, Culture, Leadership, Legal Profession, Mergers and Acquisitions, Strategy
Merger is not a panacea for reacting to economic, client or competitive pressures. It should be one option considered as part of a carefully thought through vision and strategy and more particularly, the implementation of that (graphic adapted from FT graphic)

In the recent WSJ article “Stark choice for lawyers – firms must merge or die“  author Jennifer Smith reasons that due to client and competitive pressures law firms have a ‘stark choice:  to ‘merge or die’. As a result, she says, there has been a ‘flurry’ of merger deals. The author’s conclusions are hard to reconcile… Continue Reading

Thought Leadership ideas for leaders – Part Three

Posted in Brand, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Personal Brand, Strategy, Thought Leader, Thought Leadership
TWG Part 3

This is the final in a three-part series on Thought Leadership (click to see Part One or Two) based around an interview with Think Write Grow author Grant Butler. Himself a thought leader in his field he has provided some invaluable insights – these can be borne in mind as you ponder how to incorporate thought… Continue Reading

Thought leadership, pricing, knowledge management and challenges for lawyers – Q&A

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Uncategorized, Vision
Chicago - the venue of a recent biannual Edge International meeting and the Futures Conference of the College of Law Practice Management - from the time of arrival at the airport till you reach the city centre, it strikes one as the city of art and architecture

Questions on thought leadership, pricing, knowledge management & future challenges for lawyers were put to fellows of the College of Law Practice Management for the COLPM Futures Conference in Chicago recently and published in a special issue of InsideLegal’s Thought Leaders Digest last week – below are the questions & my responses: Q1 – Thought leadership… Continue Reading

Leadership Frame #3 – leaders must understand the strategic implications of Social Media

Posted in Leadership, Legal Profession, Strategy, Vision
Social Media icons

At first blush social media would not seem to be the domain of leadership. It is however important that leaders understand enough about such developments, particularly where growth has been explosive and the impact wide-ranging, to appreciate potential strategic implications for their firms. In this third Leadership Frame (introduced a few posts ago), I talk to… Continue Reading

Leadership Frames – essential skills and styles for leadership

Posted in Emotional Intelligence, Leadership, Legal Profession, Management, Strategy, Vision
Leadership Frames are an easy way to think about the various key techniques, skills and thinking that successful leaders employ to undertake their craft

Leadership Frames – essential skills, techniques, processes, understandings, thinking and behavioral styles for leadership. I intend to deal with 25 to 30 of these frames over future blog posts, the first, on Emotional Intelligence, starts today. Many leaders ‘wing it’. They rely on their innate ability and don’t develop their leadership skills and learn key skills and… Continue Reading