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Law Case Study

Sector

Law - Solicitors Practice

Intervention

Planning for growth and development

Actions

Business Planning
Fee Earner Technical Skills Training & Mentoring

Outcomes

3 Year Growth Plan

Reliance now on no one main source of income, but fee income generated profitably from 4 main sources

7 new solicitors taken on, all from trainees

New reward structure in place which encourages team work

Quarterly performance reviews in place and working

Fee Income targets greatly exceeded

Overall reputation of Firm greatly enhanced internally and externally

We were invited to work with a multi branch outer London based Law Firm in Spring 2003, and assignment which eventually lasted for 2 years. Although highly successful and profitable by any reasonable standards, it quickly became apparent that this was a Law Firm successful in spite of itself. The most fantastic technical results were being obtained by one fee earner in one department, a clinical negligence specialist, whose fees so far outweighed those of any other fee earner within the practice that the Firm was dangerously close not just to having all its eggs in one basket, but in one man.

The Partner concerned recognised this from the outset, but found some difficulty in being able to effect change in himself because of the continual pressure to proactively work high value cases, leaving him insufficient time to invest effectively in the management and marketing of the Firm's other services or, most importantly, in its people. The result was a high level of stress all round, de-motivated and unhappy fee earners and a high turnover of professional staff.

Although there was an existing Business Plan in place, it transpired no partner had ever read it, some were unaware of its existence, it had been written by the Practice Manager, and it was never referred to. Goals were non specific and there was no Action Plan to bring such goals as there were to fruition.

Plainly the Firm was highly successful and, in litigation, it enjoyed a very good reputation. However matters could not continue as they were. If they were as successful as they were with the level of disharmony that they carried, what could they achieve if they got people fired up and enthused and working as a team?

This included setting overall income and profitability targets (which were very substantial), the opening of at least one new substantial branch office (as a new flagship for the business) and committing to reducing the reliance upon the Personal Injury & Clinical Negligence Fee income and instead working towards a position where no single one of the four main fields of practice work were to be relied upon any more than another.

A tall order and one that would only be achieved by commitment towards achieving these goals over an extended period of time. Old habits had to be broken and a sea change effected.

Working with two of the Partners over time and also with key fee earners on a technical level we were able to:

" Guide, coach and mentor at a partnership level - whereby time was made for junior fee earners who needed help and guidance, and which involved exposure to casework, under direct partner supervision, that they would never otherwise have had (including work on major litigation).

"Help the decision be made in respect of certain partners who could not manage the change"

"Guide coach and mentor at an Associate and trainee level to help bring up fee earner technical and business skills"

"Overall to help improve motivation and morale, to help develop a TEAM ethos rather than the one which previously existed that every one was working on their own"

By the time that we finished this assignment the Firm was well on the way to achieving what had been decided at the Planning Day. There had been challenges along the way, but these had been met, not fudged and always the ultimate goals for the business were kept in mind and work undertaken towards achieving these.

A little under 3 years from the initial strategy day we were contacted by one of the Partners who informed us that they had now achieved everything that they had set out to achieve (in fact that the income and profitability targets had been exceeded) and that the firm was now embarking upon an exciting and innovative plan for future growth and prosperity over the next 3 years.