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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

Open Plan offices and Darwin’s natural selection bring unexpected law firm benefits

Posted in Business Models, Change, Culture, Management, Partners, People Strategy, Trust & Respect, Uncategorized
It seems open plan offices can have some unexpected benefits, like selecting out the 'dickhead' factor. (image courtesy of BFX NZ)

Open plan offices are not new, even for law firms, and no doubt there are a couple of examples in your region. The jury does still seem to be out though in regard to the pros and cons. While there are those who proudly espouse the virtues of ‘open plan’ with benefits like: better staff… 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

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

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

Things we learn from young people

Posted in Leadership, Management, Personal Effectiveness, Uncategorized, Values
The penultimate day in a gruelling 1300km charity cycle ride

Despite the attractive laid-back hippy, flower power and surfing cultures which were around when I was young, our fairly conservative coastal-rural upbringing meant we thought more or less everything there was to learn would come through our parents. As one ‘matured’ one was tempted to think the youth of today had it easier and was… 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

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

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

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

Large law firms perform well but feel the heat

Posted in Australasia, Leadership, Legal Profession, Uncategorized
Frog in pot FLAT

Despite a period of patchy M&A work, scratchy demanding clients and less ‘sticky’ partners, Australia’s ten largest law firms (Big Law Australia: BLA) have recently reported record gross fees, high equity partner profits coupled with a bullish view of their future world (Alex Boxsell and Samantha Bowers reporting in AFR 16 September 2011). However, they are… Continue Reading