It has been a while since I have seen any ratings to be done! Although I do not like ratings, I still like to classify partnerships and partners. I am sinful of doing it all the time, though I do it solely for myself … The cause of the most “fresh” classification was the event of Law Society of England and Wales, which took place this week in London under a big name “International Marketplace 2014: The Legal Lead. Building Blocks for Global Growth and Prosperity». Cool, right?!
While I was talking about classification, it was very interesting to observe the self-classification of the lawyers.
“Who are we?» — asked the partners. “We are the leaders of the process!” — one group was proudly shouting. “Facilitators of the process?” – another group was trying to convince timidly.
You may ask “Which process are they talking about?”. I ask myself the same question. Is it a process of legal services provision and supply of the global growth development and client business development? It is a very intricate and very complicated matter. Or else, it is very much rhetorical, I would say.
While I was watching the presentations (and moderators, I would like to stress, were very convincing and through and would not allow the discussion participants to avoid answering the questions), I came up with a new classification of partnerships:
1) those who accept the need for change (and consequently, changing together with their clients andor for the sake of the business of their clients);
2) those who resist the changes (and conserve the changing reality according own needs, and imposing the client the models of service delivery and service provision which are comfortable and known models to these partnerships and partners).
There was a grey haired partner among the speakers of the event, which shared his experience of working with start-ups and claiming inevitability of standardizing the services and atomization of service provision, the increasing role of young layers in the process of service sales to their coevals, and a need to develop curiosity in the client business and industry in general.
There was also a rather young and rather conservative partner of a respectful London firm, which was claiming exclusively facilitative role of the lawyers in accompanying the business of their clients.
So, the age and experience of the partners are not key indicators, which define the belonging of a partnership to either one of the groups according to my classification. These are personal particularities so to say.
Given the whole variety of views to the number of discussed issues at the conference (there were six parallel sessions), all of the speakers agreed that the expectations of the clients from external advisors radically changed during the past five years, the needs of the clients and processes of product delivery have also changed. It is not only impossible to ignore this fact but such ignorance negatively impacts the image of specific legal firms and the image of a legal industry as a whole.
During my flight back, I was contemplating and classifying my own clients: their urge to change and their readiness to go through the needed changes, which are forced not only by own personal wish but rather by the market itself. A skill to delay the changes “at least for a couple of days” or run into changes under the slogan “the war will show the plan” . So I caught myself thinking that during implementation of changes we base it on our natural senses and experience rather than on a professionally developed skill of change implementation. It is of course ok, but unfortunately not enough in highly competitive market conditions.
It is not enough not only because it is a complicated and complex skill, but also because the clients often perceive us as a source of knowledge and consider that the legal accompanying of their business goes outside the frames of a plane legal service (everybody talks and speaks about the strengthening role of internal lawyers and change in the attitude by the heads of internal legal departments to “we do it ourselves vs hire an outside consultant”).
When I exited the plane, I noticed that my child grew a lot, and the pants that were tucked in twice at the bottom, have been already short. So, I went to the shop to buy new ones. These kind of changes are impossible to avoid. Moreover, they are always expected and make the parents happy. Such is the pleasant nature of changes, do you agree, dear partners?!