The Perfect Law Firm – Part 5

10 Nov 2014

If today’s law firm leaders could start again and rebuild 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 would a top London law firm’s head office be different if you were starting up today?

David Patient (Managing Partner at Travers Smith) – “Having a head office is very important… [but] it is important to allow flexible working arrangements.”

Guy Stobart (CEO of Kennedys) – “It would use space more efficiently.”

Simon Beswick (Managing Partner and CEO at Osborne Clarke) – “Minimise the amount of office space, lawyers, business service professionals and PAs… recruit the right talent elsewhere.”

Richard Masters (head of client operations Pinsent Masons) – “It would depend on what the focus of that firm is to be… it may be appropriate to have more front-of-house operation in London with delivery capability elsewhere.”

Susan Bright (London managing partner of Hogan Lovells) – “I think what will be difficult is that you have to decide what kind of law firm you would be. Culture would be critical”


Being the capital city, David Patient believes that London is the right setting for a head office. It is useful for allowing teams to interact and work closely with each other. Yet it is also important to be flexible and allow people to work local to them or from home.

This is all about the balance between creating the right perception with clients and contacts and the cost of property and peace in London.

What firms have not recognised is the difference between having a flagship head office in London, and running a large factory based there.

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Keep the head office and move the factory out to a lower cost location. Part 6 develops this thread.