Day one, Monday 18 September 2017
Registration and coffee
Welcome and chairman’s opening remarks
Simon Holdsworth, Managing Partner, Thrings
- Simon Holdsworth Managing Partner - Thrings
How can the ambitious mid-market firm identify its purpose and stand out in a competitive market?
- no matter what your size, every firm must define its purpose and its value in the modern business world
- what is your firm’s USP? Do you know what you want your firm to achieve?
- do you have a plan to achieve this?
- and how can you ensure you carry through with your intentions?
Sir Nigel was the driving force behind DLA Piper’s remarkable growth, taking the firm from its UK regional origins to the global business it is today. Sir Nigel will share his thoughts on what mid-tier firms can learn from this transformation from regional practice to one of the world’s largest business law firms.
- Sir Nigel Knowles former Global Co-Chairman and Senior Partner - DLA Piper
Client satisfaction: a look at what GC’s think about innovation in law firms – are you providing what your clients want?
We’ll review recent studies on what clients say they really want from the mid-tier:
- how GCs see innovation in law firms
- what's good and bad about how firms are evolving
- the latest trends in buying and how younger buyers favour different attributes and display different buying patterns for the future
- how men and women buy and their preferences
- fresh insights about how to drive a culture of collaboration
- how GCs view star lawyers and how great an impact they are on advocacy, satisfaction and revenue
- Jo Aitken Client Relationship Director - Acritas
The Alternative Legal Management Live Survey: Working with legal tech vendors
Using Sli.do, we’ll take a live snapshot of legal leaders’ thoughts on
- how tech vendors serve the legal mid-market
- what managing partners (should) expect from vendors
- do mid-tier firms need a different procurement approach?
- do firms spend enough time understanding the product?
- should firms adapt practices to what the system can deliver?
- can we balance the convenience and price of off-the-shelf systems and our desire to tailor and tinker?
- is it that vendors often don’t deliver, or that firms expect too much?
- are the problems that mid-tier firms face universal or unique - can solutions be standardised?
- the opportunities for collaboration in coding, web development, AI
- Chris Bull Executive Director - Kingsmead Square
Facilitated Round Table Discussions
This series of hosted round table discussions (A1 – A8) will focus entirely on practical ways/examples of making mid-tier firms better businesses, through the themes of People, Business Processes, Business Structures, M&A, Pricing and Technology/Innovation. There will be two 40 minute sessions.
A1 – Moving your culture and brand to one of high performance and strong accountability
Performance management underpins leadership in a mid-tier firm. But what are the practical steps to defining and measuring staff performance? DAS Law faced a huge challenge to deliver headcount growth at a time when they were already struggling to recruit and retain talent, whilst at the same time attempting to deliver a cultural shift to become far more performance driven and accountable. They concluded that clear role definitions, objectives and crucially management accountability offered the solution by delivering a clear message to existing employees and managers as well as the local recruitment market. This discussion will examine the firm’s experiences from rewriting job profiles, to embedding a culture of open and honest conversations to deliver strong performance at every level.
- James Christacos Managing Director - DAS Law
A2 – Running your firm as a corporation
Is the corporate model the way to go? What are the pros and the cons? What process did we follow in making the change?
- Ed Fletcher Chief Executive - Fletchers Solicitors
A3 – Fixed pricing in practice
Law firms struggle with the transition from billable hours to fixed pricing. You need to start somewhere, but how? We’ll look at real life experiences of moving to a fixed fee system, overcoming objections and using measurement and incentives to shift the mind-set of fee earners.
A4 – Common M&A pitfalls and how to avoid them
We’ll dissect the M&A process to analyse what drives a strategic decision to merge. As there is no perfect fit, why give up your firm’s autonomy? How are professional services mergers typically structured in terms of: who is involved in M&A discussions and when, partner stakes, lock in periods, communication plans, etc. How can you avoid destabilising your firm when exploring M&A options? What are the actual mechanics of the process and what makes a successful merger?
- Simon Ross Managing Partner - Seddons
A5 – Budgeting your firm for profit rather than revenue
- Neil Demuth Executive Director - Foot Anstey
A6 – The employee ownership model in practice
A year on, how is our employee ownership structure working? What have been the pros and the cons? What process did we follow in making the change? And what advice would we give to other mid-tier firms?
- Robert Camp Managing Partner - Stephens Scown
A7 – Partner performance management and remuneration
- Edward O’Rourke CEO & Partner - Ashtons Legal
A8 – Artificial intelligence to transform contract management process
- quickly and accurately read, extract and analyse relevant information from leases
- get more work done in less time and respond to clients faster
- reduce risk of human error and inconsistencies
- Rachel Roberts Head of Business Solutions - Burges Salmon
A9 – Insuring your firm against a cyber attack – everything the managing partner needs to know
Should mid-tier firms even bother with cyber insurance? What should be your priority – to purchase insurance or to invest more in IT security? What level of protection can cyber insurance realistically provide? What should we look for (or avoid) in a policy? Is a cyber insurance policy sufficient or should it be supplemented by other policies? What rating factors do insurers consider? To what extent can an insurance policy mitigate the damage inflicted in an attack? How much use is insurance in the case of a ransomware attack?
Lunch and networking
Leadership Think Tank – effective leadership behaviour for the modern, ambitious managing partner
This intensive session will open with a short presentation from Luan and Michael, then we’ll then break into four discussion groups, addressing:
1. Clients: Have you identified your marketplace? Are you listening to what your market wants? How successful are you at serving your market?
2. Developing your people: Are you ensuring that your people can develop to their maximum potential?
3. Culture: As leadership models shift away from “tell and do”, have you given your firm have a clear plan to follow, a strategy that empowers your people to make decisions?
4. Authentic leadership: How can you, as a leader, be true to who you are? How can you enable your people to see you for who you are? What defines you as an authentic leader?
Each group will feed back the highlights of their discussion – these will be honed by Luan and Michael into a list of takeaways for the managing partner of an ambitious mid-tier firm. You’ll be asked to indicate in advance which discussion you wish to join.
- Luan de Burgh Founder - de Burgh Group
- Michael Fiddy Partner and Global Co-Chair, Restructuring - DLA Piper
Facilitated Round Table Discussions
This series of hosted round table discussions (B1 – B8) will focus entirely on practical ways/examples of making mid-tier firms better businesses, through the themes of People, Business Processes, Business Structures, M&A, Pricing and Technology/Innovation. There will be two 40 minute sessions.
B1 – Linking Key Result Areas (KRAs) to delivery of strategy and development of high performing teams
We will look at how using KRAs can help the firm to define roles, manage performance and offer both technical and management routes to partnership. We’ll talk about the challenges we faced such as training gaps, resistance to new roles and new performance targets, such as networking. And the successes:
- consistently defined roles across the firm
- the discovery of well-qualified people hiding in plain sight
- identification of training gaps
- clear job descriptions make performance management straightforward
- Sally Jones Deputy CEO and COO - Brethertons Solicitors
B2 – Innovative ways of funding disputes
A law firm’s major concern is getting paid on time for work done. But how do you ensure your firm doesn’t miss out on fee generation simply because your client was too afraid to ask about alternative ways of covering your fees in disputes? Third party funding offers regular payment solutions for a whole range of dispute funding: directly to your firm, for individual cases, group of cases and even funding when you work on a Damages Based Agreement. How does it work? How can it benefit you and your client? What is the cost? How to secure funding? What are the benefits? Are there pitfalls? This session offers first-hand insight from a partner who has led a large commercial claim and who will tell his funding story from start to finish, as well as from a leading funder. An excellent opportunity to tap into their vast expertise and innovative outlook on the litigation market.
B3 – Succession planning and exit strategies
We’ll discuss succession planning strategies for the firm including where to get help, how to help other partners exit, and “retirement training”. Plus, what’s next for you personally in planning your exit?
- Martin Hamilton Head of Employment and Managing Partner (elect) - Capsticks
B4 – Artificial intelligence in mid-market legal
- Sarah Perry Managing Partner - Wright Hassall
B5 – Growth through acquisition
What we have learned about cultural fit and minimising cultural friction when growing our firm by acquisition.
- Martin Darroch CEO - Harper McLeod
B6 – The evolving role of a managing partner
The managing partner’s role has changed over recent years, and continues to evolve. Managing partners must now be expert at leadership, internal communications and engagement, culture, enabling change and more. We’ll talk about Thorntons’ recent journey including implementation of a new governance structure and the creation of a COO, and what this has meant - for the firm and particularly for the managing partner.
- Helen Archibald Chief Operating Officer - Thorntons
B7 – Agile working in practice
Outcomes not inputs might be said to be what now matter. Is visibility your firm’s thing or have you come to trust? Does your communication strategy fit the new age or have you a mix of thinkers delivering different messages? Is the agile agenda being driven by the millennials or by your board? Does your experience on the ground fit with your declared aims on agility? Can your IT cope?
- John Macmillan Managing Partner - MacRoberts
B8 – Utilising technology to market law firms for the future
- Peter Taylor Managing Partner - Paris Smith LLP
Take a quick breather and grab a drink before joining us for the final engaging session of the day.
Alternative Views: How can mid-market law firms ensure survival in this uncertain modern world?
Your firm faces challenges from Brexit, new business structures, alternative legal providers, technological change, pricing pressure, security threats… What will help you to survive? How can you overcome these challenges while still getting the day job done? What is key from a leadership perspective? What is the best structure for your firm in your market? Should mid-sized firms move away from partnership to corporate model? Is the partnership model a strength or a weakness in this market? What does this mean for your leadership style? Can you get the best of corporate structure while retaining the best of partnership?
At the end of a long and productive day, we’ll meet for this informal and interactive session. Set up in the round, delegates will gather around a central table to “eavesdrop” on a frank, facilitated, conversation between four managing partners about the challenges facing mid-market firms and how to ensure their survival.
The bar is open, Sli.do awaits your questions / comments and we hope you’ll join in the conversation.
- Tony Williams Principal - Jomati Consultants
Chairman’s closing remarks and end of day one
- Simon Holdsworth Managing Partner - Thrings
Dinner and entertainment followed by overnight stay
If you would like more information, or if you would like to present, please contact:
Sarah Katherine Bagshaw
07701 091 664