Tag Archives: ABS

GC Insight: Lawyers need to push more to understand the business

David Eveleigh, GC at Serco

David Eveleigh, GC at Serco

David Eveleigh GC at Serco with a frank assessment of where lawyers – in-house and private practice – need to improve and develop.  More focused on process; better understanding and focus on what needs to be delivered for the business.  His interesting take on lawyer “pull” and not enough “push” to get to know the business feels about right.

Good insight too on how to remunerate to motivate to develop people and culture with the right priorities going forwards.

Making effective changes and innovations here should start by listening to clients … afresh – aiming to innovate and add value to the customer journey.

Read the full interview here >>

Update on development and use of “Cloud” and “Hosted” IT systems in law firms and the legal sector

This Cloud is not fluffyThere is now a wide variety of options available to law firms in the UK, to move away from the pain of managing servers and extensive IT on their own premises, whatever size of firm they are. Legal practice management system suppliers are still mostly at some stage on the journey from supplying dedicated IT systems on the firm’s premises (on the decline) to delivery of their software from a remotely hosted and secure (perhaps shared, making them “true cloud”) servers in a data centre managed by the supplier, the firm or a third party depending. All the firms that we work with are heading in this direction.

One size does not fit all, as firms have different requirements, concerns (sometimes unfounded) and limitations in what they feel they can and should do at this stage. For suppliers, the transition from traditional suppliers of on-premise solutions in the legal sector to deliver “cloud” solutions at maximum profit challenges their business model fundamentally; so some new entrants are likely to make an even more significant impact in the UK market soon.

Read the rest of our article providing an update on how far law firms and IT suppliers servicing the legal sector have come now – published in Jan 2015 here >>

Extend your services – create more opportunities to generate more revenue from clients and new prospects

From the feedback we receive in listening to FD’s, MD’s and CEO’s it would appear that many law firms are missing a trick by not broadening their business discussions with their corporate clients to engage them more strategically; where there is very often an opportunity to deliver a wider variety of joined up services to generate additional revenue, warrant regular contact and to protect the relationship from increasingly pro-active competitors.

Company secretarial services are just one such area, which we discuss here; but others include corporate finance for commercial clients and financial services for private individuals.  In all these situations, these additional options can – for the right firms and lawyers, who often need help to adapt their view of “relationships” – create new opportunities to establish a more secure source of more business from existing clients and prospects.

On company secretarial services … No professional services firm needs to be told about the merits of a retained client relationship, even more so when competition amongst firms remains as strong as ever; and we have all heard about the costs of winning new business which can be as much as five times greater than the cost of developing an existing client through good account management. With this in mind, it is puzzling that relatively few commercial law firms don’t offer company secretarial services to clients on an ongoing basis – when they are very often part of corporate transactions, a requirement of corporate re-organisations and relevant to commercial litigation.

Typically, firms will address the immediate company secretarial work required to complete a transaction or address a dispute, only to miss an opportunity to manage such work on an ongoing basis for the client. Clearly, it doesn’t make sense to handle such work using fee earners who could command higher hourly rates on other work.

However, there is a strong case to be made to offer fixed fee annual compliance services to clients, even if these are limited to the regulatory filings required by Companies House and their counterparts overseas. There is potential for law firms to outsource company secretarial services, making a direct profit from that work, whilst strengthening their hold on the client’s business at the same time.  This is a good conversation to have – particularly with FD’s who also have demanding administrative company secretarial responsibilities that few enjoy.

An example of the provider of this kind of specialist service capable of developing the right kind of relationship with lawyers and their clients – with no fear of them poaching any legal work – is London Corporate, who work with professional services firms to provide an outsourced or in-house managed company secretarial service on a ‘white label’ basis. These services are supported by business development and pro-active account management on behalf of the instructing lawyers, to engage with clients on a regular basis to perform filings and to manage director and shareholder registers.

This ongoing contact allows lawyers to maintain a foothold within a client’s organisation; also placing the firm in the best possible position to open up new fee generating opportunities when they arise.

The introduction of an outsourced company secretarial service can also be combined with fee earner training on corporate compliance, so they understand the opportunities to offer company secretarial services when they come into contact with the right people at your client as part of their business development and account management activity. This approach also recognises that existing portfolios of company secretarial work may be small or non-existent now.

However, developing a working relationship with partners like London Corporate is a low-risk opportunity to grow new business with confidence in the quality of service. London Corporate are affiliated to the Warwick Legal Network for the provision of pan-European company secretarial compliance where required.

Contact Allan Carton on 0161 929 8355 if you are interested in generating more business from existing clients or if you want to develop new service propositions for either existing clients and potential new prospects.

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.

Improving Legal Process – More stories from the field from BLP and others

Mark GreenhouseTwo stories I thought you might like to be aware of that demonstrate how law firms are increasingly getting focused on improving processes, aiming to deliver better value to clients:

Legal Talk Network – Talking Legal Evolution – Innovations’ Pace In the Legal Industry – this one is from the States and reviews a number of the recent legal conferences that have taken place.  From about 9 mins 30 secs in there is a good conversation about Legal Process Management, Mapping & Improvement, how it affects larger firms and will permeate down to small firms.  It is a podcast so you’ll need speakers turned up/headphones on.

BLP Integrates Key Elements of City Law Firm Innovation – this story talks about the opening of an office in Manchester, to develop a shared service hub and the introduction of a number of services including Legal Process Improvement.  It mentions that the team at BLP have mapped 60 workflows and are offering to do the same for clients.

Also – remember we posted this on Addleshaw Goddard and Clifford Chance while back too, so there is a clear trend in this direction.

We can help you get your people on the right track to tackle processes in your practice, where radical improvements are very possible; so if you want to know more, please contact me here >>

Mark Greenhouse

Business Process on the agenda at Addleshaw Goddard

Interesting to see that Addleshaws have taken up this challenge in Manchester, which demonstrates how – just a few, so far – law firms have begun to adapt how legal service is delivered to focus on process, aiming to ensure that clients value what they get.  An area where an understanding of “lean thinking” is needed to introduce radical improvements; all of which is needed in developing business in a law firm now.

Mark Greenhouse

Insights to help lawyers grow and develop a sustainable, successful practice

NatWestUseful to reflect back on these thoughts from Stephen Mayson in October 2011, which are all still very relevant to development of new business strategies for law firms.

At one of Natwest’s thought provoking “Ahead for Business” conferences for lawyers in Manchester,  Stephen Mayson helpfully defined this list of 10 full or partial “Substitutions” that are happening now (with more on the way), which impact on how legal services can and should be delivered today.  It should help to focus your mind on those areas of the current business most legal practices should be tackling pro-actively; although relatively few are yet.

80% of work handled by law firms is NOT “reserved” to solicitors (regardless of the Legal Services Act opening the doors wider to new entrants), so anyone can deliver these services if they want.  With all the options for new entrants to maximise the potential of these substitutions, I believe lawyers now have less than 3 years left to get this new mix right.

I will be incorporating these thoughts in my discussions with lawyers in the future.  By focusing on this list of “substitutions”, you can readily identify where and how your practice could be more pro-active to define your response on each count, aiming to develop the more sustainable business that everyone wants for the future.

  1. Non lawyers for lawyers
  2. IT for human beings; virtual for physical
  3. Referrers for direct client access
  4. New providers for law firms (including legal process outsourcing)
  5. External for internal
  6. Corporate structure for partnerships
  7. Professional managers for gifted amateurs
  8. Differentiated rewards for net profit
  9. Equity for debt; capital for income
  10. Brand for Reputation

Of course none of this is absolute; there is a balance to be achieved in each area that varies on each point for each practice.  Effective implementation of the right mix in response should be the main challenge for management right now.

With Stephen Mayson’s list as a good summary, are you and your colleagues focused on each of these areas of your business to make decisions about how to respond (if at all) on each of them now?

How we support law firms on business strategy >>

£500 Introductory Offer – For legal practices employing up to 50 people >>

Allan Carton