SA Law's Victoria Thomson prefers to see business in 3D. Like the current trend for re-mastering classic films in 3D, the story of law firm sector specialisation is not new as such, but often comes as part of a firm's evolution. What was particularly interesting to hear from Victoria when she visited us this week was just how much of an impact this shift of perspective has had on the people in the business and the way they think.
We all know the story of the commercial benefits of a sector-led approach - clients responding to teams of lawyers that understand the context of the particular discipline of legal advice they are giving in a more nuanced way. And focussing on sectors is not new at SA Law either, the firm long being known for its specialist expertise advising the SME sector. But identifying sector heads with strong leadership skills and asking them to report to senior management on how their business is going from this sector perspective, rather than from 'departments' defined by legal discipline, this is a new approach for the firm.
'Sitting in on the sector head reports to Management this month, what was so interesting to see was how much more they reported on their plans and progress like a corporate business, not just in the presentational tools they are now choosing to use - far more PowerPoint, Gant charts, Excel spreadsheets - but more fundamentally in having a far more rounded understanding of how their own particular category of legal advice to a client fits together with advice from other legal disciplines that their colleagues are also giving. It really is like they are seeing their clients' needs much more in 3D.
It has also galvanised the teams internally and given a boost to everyone's client care and business development efforts. We're lucky we have such strong leaders heading up each of the sector groups (Education, Healthcare, Charity and Social Enterprise, Retail, Sport) as their role is going to be key to the success of this approach. I'm so glad we did this and it's fascinating to see how it has altered the business mindset of all those involved..'
Now any technique that helps legal practitioners make that challenging transition into commercially-minded business people is very good news in my book. Interesting how this shift to a sector-oriented approach has changed mindsets to the extent that it has.
...but sore bums expected at the firm next week as an SA Law team of 13 takes part in the Olympic Gold Challenge to clock up 2,012 sporting kilometres before the Games start this July. The team will be cycling from Land's End back to St Albans, a punishing 75 miles per day for four days, to raise 12,000 pounds for Keech Hospice Care for terminally ill adults and children with life-limiting illnesses. Together with their training miles, covered through rain, ice, wind and shine over the last few months, each team member will have done 1,000 miles, or more than 1,600 km, by the time they cross the finish line.
If you'd like to make a donation, I'm sure the team would appreciate your support. You can click here to donate.
Good to catch up with fellow 'Twegals' at Lex2012TweetUp this week in Holborn. I could only stay for half an hour as I had another event that night (they don't call me Two Parties Rodway for nothing!) but I managed to catch up briefly with @BrianInkster (always good to see him when he's down south), @LindaCheungUK (self-professed 'Blue-chip escapee' and CEO of CubeSocial which offers software and other techniques for winning business via social media - do check out their website), @HeatherTowns (esteemed FT author on the subject of business networking and my new best friend after she came to my offices that day with a home-made cake), old friend and legal marketing supremo @RedStarKim, @GavWard (a delight to meet him in person for the first time after a year or so of exchanging ideas on Twitter), @legalaware (love his tweets so again great to finally meet him in person) and the inimitable @colmmu.
A couple of people I missed on the night, but who I will be aiming to catch up with over coffee in the next few weeks, include @jezhop (Director of Operations at the new Riverview Law), @AjeetMinhasGTB (co-founder of Minhas & Dixon LLP) and @pupillageblog (author of the very popular tongue-in-cheek guide 'for bewildered would-be barristers') all of whom I have the pleasure of tweeting with regularly but rarely meet. Need to fix that! Just love Twitter for making new friends and keeping in contact with people.
Contact @BrianInkster or @LindaCheungUK if you fancy coming along to the next Legal TweetUp, likely to be in the next few months.