The Perfect Law Firm – Part 1

27 Oct 2014

If today’s law firm leaders could start again and build the perfect the law firm, what would they do differently? The Lawyer asked several of today’s biggest legal names this very question and this is a summary of what they said…

How to Avoid the Worst Mistakes Law Firms Make as they Grow and Evolve

John Schorah (Managing Partner at Weightmans) – “Make sure you meet the demands of your clients… and don’t try to grow into markets you don’t understand.”

Simon Beswick (Managing Partner and CEO of Osborne Clarke) – “Don’t be inactive and ignore your clients.”

David Aitman (Managing Partner of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer) – “Clients need to feel they are getting value for money.”

Guy Stobart (CEO at Kennedys) – “Ignore the past, focus on what clients want now and be prepared to execute it.”

Susan Bright (London Managing Partner of Hogan Lovells) – “Engage with your own people.”

Guy Hinchley (Managing Partner Mills & Reeve) – “Balance your senior workforce with the correct number of juniors.”

David Patient (Managing Partner of Travers Smith) – “Refrain from growing too fast beyond your historic roots. Together with rapid lateral hiring, this dilutes a firms culture as well as staff loyalty.”

Richard Masters (head of client operations at Pinsent Masons) – “Don’t ignore your firms heritage and the legal knowledge that has built up over generations.”

Michael Chissick (Managing Partner at Field Fisher) – “Be prepared for changes in the market.”

Chris Saul (Senior Partner at Slaughter and May) – “Don’t lose sight of the essential elements of building and nurturing a good law firm.”


Two themes which come through strongly are the need to engage with your clients and the need to engage with your own people.

Part of looking after your own people is building and respecting your culture and values.

These views mirror comments that we hear daily while we are out talking to law firm leaders.

They all know what they need to do.

Perhaps they do not know how they could do it or they are too busy doing other things.

The main challenge is finding ways to make it happen.

Most law firms do not engage with either their clients or their people in a meaningful way.

In the more dynamic and competitive market this stuff is no longer a “nice to have”.

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Part 2, will look at the shape and size of big firms today.

Which parts are firms currently most focused on unpicking and why?