Happy 10th birthday to TPP Law! Managing partner Mark Johnson joined me and colleague Clare Turnbull for lunch this week to celebrate a phenomenal 10 years success since he launched his business in 2002, and we took the opportunity to ask him how reality had matched up to expectation. With a career that began with roles at top firms such as Theodore Goddard (now Addleshaws) and SJ Berwin, Mark is a highly specialist public projects lawyer, with a particular emphasis on innovative and cutting edge partnership contracts and new delivery models for public services. It is no coincidence that we met to celebrate the success of his highly respected niche firm just days after a survey by Winmark Chief Legal Officer Network highlighted that FTSE100 companies are increasingly choosing niche law firms (also some mid-market players) in preference to magic circle firms for most things except for those very special deals that still require some real 'magic' - as Jonathan Ames put it when he wrote about the phenomenon in this week's Times.
Mark is renowned for his methodical approach to his work for clients and his business. This is the man who attended Harvard Business School's week-long Leadership in Professional Service Firms programme as part of his business planning process. So did it all pan out just as he expected? What in particular does he think he has learned over the last 10 years?
"First and foremost, I learned that creating a business plan requires a collaborative team effort - the whole firm needs to buy into it and understand it. It can't really be imposed from above. Equally important is staying close to the market: get the senior team out and about making connections and finding the next assignment - not sitting at their desks in the office. In my previous firms there seemed to be an assumption that if you were not in the office you clearly weren't working!
Next, I'd emphasise the importance of training and development, which is critical to attracting and retaining talent." This is a subject close to Mark's heart and Kysen was very grateful when he shared his wisdom back in 2010 as we prepared for our own Investor In People accreditation. (Thanks Mark!) "Law firms have got much better at this over the past ten years," he continues, "but many have some way to go. We have a very structured training plan for everyone in the practice at all levels. Crucially, senior lawyers need to make time to mentor and coach junior staff. Lastly, I'd say that you can't achieve success on your own - the right level of business support on finance, IT, business development and PR is essential. Fortunately we have worked with some excellent partners in these fields." (Thanks again Mark!)
Well, with old snobberies diminishing and in-house lawyers increasingly demanding a real and evidenced value-add, the future looks bright for TPP Law. Here's to the next 10 years!
Some gift horses should most definitely be looked in the mouth! Huge fun was to be had on Twitter this week, as journalists and others raced to tweet ever-increasingly inventive 'nag gags', after news emerged that ex News of the World boss Rebekah Brooks had been loaned a retired police horse from the Met. Check out #horsegate on Twitter to enjoy the fun.
The Guardian took to the saddle with a game of its own, inviting readers to contribute their best horsegate jokes. Enjoy them here.
What was your favourite?
And so to the Oscars... which, with The Artist and The Iron Lady both sweeping the awards again, seemed rather like a sequel to last month's BAFTAs. Meryl Streep reprised her role as Cinderella - (you'll remember her losing her shoe on the steps up to the stage on her way to collect her Best Actress BAFTA) - winning only her third Oscar ever, despite being the most nominated actress in history: Cinderella shall go to the ball!
And Jean duJardin charmed us once again, with a coy follow-up to his wonderful joke at the BAFTAs ...."In the words of Buster Keaton...[silence]". This time he delighted us with: "If George Valentin could speak, he'd say....." ...well, if you want to know what he'd say, click on this video link - and enjoy!