Category Archives: Merger

Problem #6: How do you share information on clients and prospects so your people can work together in fulfilling their legal needs?

Client Needs AnalysisTo deliver an improved client experience, legal practitioners must first understand the client’s needs and value to the business. To do this, everyone in your practice needs to be able to share one reliable source of information about each client and prospect.

Unfortunately, this is where many firms fall down. Traditional ways of gathering client information have resulted in most firms having multiple – and incomplete or incorrect – records; for example with just very basic name and address details in the accounts system, with more in case management and Excel spreadsheets that are maintained by individuals for their own purposes; not shared.

To overcome this obstacle, legal firms need to move towards a single view of clients; one of the biggest objectives of implementing a CRM solution.

A single view is crucial for any individual at your practice who is engaging with a client. It offers insight into their particular needs, with all the relevant information on hand. This knowledge enables individual practitioners to provide an improved experience for their client, which builds rapport, trust and, most importantly, customer loyalty.

This all sounds appealing of course, but can you deliver that single view of the client?

Technology provides tools to make this possible … and it is not difficult if you commit to making it happen, although you do need to set out the rationale, communicate it and be persistent to help people use the system.   CRM solutions are delivered on platforms that support data integration, so sharing client data from one system to another is straightforward.

However, you need to start with some reliable data and build from there; so start by improving your data.  

Here are three tips that can help improve the quality of your data.

1. Delete duplicate data.

Duplicate records could lead members of your team to chase the same client, and to discrepancies over fee earners. An effective CRM system can enhance one-to-one relationships between clients and an individual; it can also identify duplicate records in real time and avoid sending multiple sales reps after the same client.

2. Standardise and cleanse your data.

It may take some time, but it is definitely worth the investment ensuring that data is accurate, consistent, current and complete. This can ensure full integration of data, offering relevant insight into client relationships, needs and behaviours.

3. Prospect more efficiently and effectively.

Once data is standardised and correct, it can become easy to identify new opportunities. Clients can be assigned to one main point of contact within the firm. This relationship can be thoroughly explored which means that services can be tailored to meet the specific requirements of the client. Behind the scenes, high quality and correct data can allow for errors to be identified corrected before they occur.

Ultimately, users need to remember that any CRM system is only as good as the data it uses. Incorrect or poor data can result in a CRM system that does not support your firm. And the result can have a domino effect. Poor data can damage the confidence of users within the firm, which, in turn, can lead to potential confusion for your clients.

If you understand the challenges you face in achieving a single view of your clients then you can plan for them, and mitigate and manage risk. By providing a solution that gives your employees confidence, you will ultimately be giving your clients a better service and experience.


To discuss and test your plans to introduce or re-engage your people on initiatives to develop more business by introducing a more effective approach to managing client relationships; confidentially, free and with no obligation – CONTACT Nathan Smith or Allan Carton.  You may well qualify for this free in-house CRM Discovery Day workshop to help bring more of your people on board.

Mergers, Acquisitions, Sales: Mosaic JV launched to provide strategic support for Barristers and Law firms

Howard Hackney, Nigel Haddon, MosaicIt’s been good to see Nigel Haddon and Howard Hackney launch their new venture advising law firms on mergers and acquisitions this week as they have a lot to offer from their experience over the years.

Both can be relied upon to provide sound, candid and experienced advice to guide you along the right path, adding an objective view that will help partners make difficult decisions with confidence. That kind of input can very often be essential to get the the right deal done and then implement it effectively to tap into the new opportunities you see possible following on from any deal.

Where can we at Inpractice UK help you in these situations?

As you work your way through the negotiations, it can be difficult to also explore and plan the operational changes and improvements you need and want to implement once the deal has been done, to make the new venture successful, quickly; integrating and developing better use of technology, developing wider relationships with more clients, introducing best practice and streamlining processes as you bring new teams together.

Too often, the momentum is lost once the deal is done, without enough people engaged effectively in making these essential initiatives happen.  That is where we can help, getting involved with you – perhaps working alongside the likes of Howard and Nigel – BEFORE the deal is done.

If you are considering a merger or acquisition of your practice, now is a good time to talk to Allan Carton here at Inpractice UK – free and in absolute confidence – about how to make sure you get all the pieces you need lined up to make the most of the new business once the deal has been done.  

Don’t leave it too late or the inevitable delay in making things happen effectively can seriously damage your prospects of making the new business the success you have in mind.   Then, once the deal has been done, we can help you make sure the right steps are taken quickly and effectively, with appropriate engagement of your people  across the business.

For more information on our services to support you in implementing a merger or acquisition, call Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 or email acarton@inpractice.co.uk

The news on this launch, courtesy of TheBusinessDesk

TWO experienced North West professionals have teamed up to launch a venture aimed at driving deal flow in the legal sector. Nigel Haddon, the former managing partner of regional law firm SAS Daniels, and former Grant Thornton partner Howard Hockney have set up Mosaic M&A which will provide advice to barristers’ chambers and senior management teams at medium-sized law firms planning mergers and acquisitions.

Amid a challenging funding environment and a consolidating and highly competitive sector, research from the Law Society indicates that one in three law firms expect to merge within the next three years.

Nigel Haddon spent nearly 20 years at SAS Daniels and was chief executive for eight years, during which time he oversaw several acquisitions including Richard Lee Solicitors (2007), Berry & Co (2011), and TWP Solicitors (2012). He said: “There is no doubt that the legal services sector has experienced seismic changes in recent years, notably following the Jackson reforms and Legal Services Act. It is a fragmented market, with over 10,000 firms, which is poised for further consolidation right across the spectrum. We also expect continued consolidation among barristers’ chambers as they bid to cut costs and respond to competition. “We are bringing something new to the market in M&A support for legal services. Combining my experience in the sector with Howard’s financial expertise, and our joint experience of mergers of professional firms both from the inside and as external advisers. Mosaic M&A will be there to help management teams navigate their way through what can often be the most challenging part of any managing partner’s career.”

Howard Hackney spent over 25 years as a partner at Grant Thornton. During his career, Hackney has advised on a number of notable transactions, most recently including Slater & Gordon’s acquisition of Manchester-based personal injury firm John Pickering and Partners. He said: “We are passionate about supporting businesses during periods of change, adding real value and helping solve the problems that keep managing partners awake at night. With more than half of transactions failing to meet their objectives, Mosaic M&A is committed to working with law firms from across the country to manage acquisition, merger and exit strategies and help to ensure success.

“Nigel and I will work on assignments personally and our experience in working with both small and large firms will be integral to understanding the needs of all parties and getting deals ‘over the line.”

The joint venture has been formed between the Nigel Haddon’s and Howard Hackney’s respective firms Nigel Haddon Consulting and Howard Hackney LLP.

Significant Changes in the Legal Market coming through.

MergerThe stats quoted in this article from the SRA – where they express their concern about the risks involved as firms go through the transition (which we can help you to minimise and address) demonstrate the impact of commercial and regulatory changes that are re-shaping your market and your competition:

  • The proportion of firms remaining as sole practitioners in 2013 was 29%, down from 41% in 2006.  That’s a big change from a position that has actually remained fairly static until the last 12 months.
  • The top-10 conveyancing firms increased from 5.3% to 10.3% between 2010 and 2012, which is highly significant now that the property market has taken off again; but well organised more widely based practices, with good people management, processes, sales and client relationship skills are doing well now, as there’s (sometimes more than) enough work around.  The challenge is to get these components of the business right.
  • 42% of the top-50 firms considering a merger to be very or fairly likely by 2016.

The Article:  Merger rush presents new risks, say SRA

Are you doing enough to make the most of the opportunities here?  And can we help?

Allan Carton

Help potential investors in your practice to move faster to get the deal done

Legal PracticeQuestion:  Is there really an abundance of investors keen to work with the legal sector or, have they simply failed to see enough ABS enterprise worth investing in?

Answer:  Maybe not an abundance, but there are a good number of potential investors out there looking for the right relationship.  We’re working with some of them now, where integration of legal services into their current business proposition would open up new opportunities; also investors aiming to consolidate complementary law firms, with a sound rationale behind their strategy and money to invest …  but wisely.  They also have to participate in the business to balance their risk and return pro-actively.

However, the same familiar obstacles that many firms have already faced on true mergers (as opposed to simpler acquisitions, where what the lead management team just take control) over the past few years arise in both these situations.   They are even more of a challenge where investors make assumptions based on their experience elsewhere before going into preliminary discussions with a law firm; particularly when the external investors are not already engaged in the legal sector.

Quite different perceptions on both sides about how the business has to be run robustly and by whom – roles and interests going forwards – can drag out any discussions for a very long time.  Interestingly, investors talking at the recent Modern Law Conference talked of gestation periods for deals of up to 6 years in the legal sector, when they might expect it to be 1 year in other sectors.

External investors want a role and lawyers often want to retain more control than the investors are prepared to countenance – but this can often be addressed through rational evaluation of the business strategy.  The more partners there are in the legal practice, the more difficult it can be of course to achieve commitment to the right balance; and then be sure it can be implemented effectively.  Reaching that stage takes time but it can be accelerated.

Investors are looking for the right law firms with the right leadership now to recognise the value of the investor’s management input to improve the business… not just their cash.  There is a strong case for deeper preparation at the outset and for objective facilitation of early discussions to determine quickly if any relationship has potential to be successful … or not.

Allan Carton as published in Modern Law Magazine

How many opportunities when you make a Will?

This article first appeared in the Jan ’13, Issue 4 of Modern Law Magazine.

Question: How important is the role of IT in the new legal services arena?

Answer:  Think through this common scenario … and then apply the same principles in other areas of your practice to evaluate the potential of IT to make you more competitive and improve your performance.

A client calls in to make a will.  They appoint 2 executors, who will be their most trusted friends or relations (and perhaps also someone from your practice).

Do you know if anyone at your practice knows these two executors?  Would you ask the testator if it would be helpful to send them some information about the responsibilities they are taking on? Do you have that available? 

If you don’t already know them, should you ask the client if it’s ok to add them to your system to send out that information and invite them to opt into further contact in future?  Can you invite them in for a chat to establish contact if they want to drop in (and send a timely reminder), to build up a better relationship with them so you understand their family’s legal needs? 

What about their children and parents – can we do something for them?  Will you stay in touch to offer that client and members of their family other services relevant to them, now we understand what they might need in the future?

To manage this requires simple but effective use of a user-friendly client relationship management (“CRM”) system to manage data and prompt activity, but this is just one area of how you operate that can be improved by effective use of IT. 

This is not just about technology but also about the mindset and vision of the people who develop and use IT systems.  Integrated, user-friendly and powerful solutions are readily available but require investment of intellect and time as well as money to produce more competitive business results; not just on relationships, but to deliver more for less and to operate more efficiently with more resilience and flexibility.

However, managing client relationships is critical.  If you do not have a structured approach supported by technology, you can rest assured that others will.  Those executors could well be your clients today … but gone tomorrow.

Allan Carton

Breakfast Seminar: Managing Your Bank Manager – Jon Miller, 21 Nov in Manchester

 

Introducing the “HELP” Plan to Improve your Cash Position

A short, punchy and thought provoking seminar to be presented by Jon Miller in association with NatWest on 21st November 2012 at the RBS Building, 7th Floor, 1 Spinningfields Square, Manchester M3 3AP.

  • Why you should provide regular financial information to your bank
  • Learn about the “HELP” plan to improve your cash position:  Managing Costs, Realisation, Asset management and Partners’ funds
  • Start thinking about succession and exit strategies before they become critical.

Format & Timing: Networking and breakfast from 8.00am; Presentation prompt start 8:30am; Finish at approximately 9:15am but the room is available for networking until 10:00am!

To reserve your FREE place  – email Julia Chisnell at professionalsunit@rbs.co.uk