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Bloomsburry Family law


It just can’t be done? Building a law firm from scratch

It is all very well discussing strategic HR within the context of a well-established firm that is looking for new ways to build profitability and growth. However, what part does it play in the bigger picture, in building a business from nothing to win a good reputation with clients and staff? Professor Lorne Crerar, managing partner of Harper Macleod, describes the development of the firm from its first days in a converted sandwich shop to double-award winner at the Scottish Legal Awards 2003.

By the people, for the people: Making the strategic HR voice heard

The corporate world has long adopted HR processes as an integral part of business development. Law firms lag behind, however, in part restrained by the individualism of the partnership structure and in part by constructs such as the billable hour, which make practical change difficult. Jill King, director of HR and knowledge management at Lovells, examines the challenges for implementing an HR initiative and explains why she believes that successful HR is all about sustainable partner buy-in.

Where’s it all going? Getting the best out of your senior lateral hires

Despite the trials and tribulations of a flat market, many firms have continued to make lateral hires, expending time, money and essential resources on appointments that they hope will drive profitability. However, for such an important strategic decision, many firms remain entrenched in silos, making decisions based on short-term needs. Ian Reaves, partner in charge of business development at Hammonds, argues a practical case for business development through strategic recruitment.

It’s a people thing

A law firm provides a service that is dependent on its people, including their knowledge, client-relationship skills and practical experience. Five years ago, however, few would have known where to start with HR management. Caroline Poynton talks to HR directors at Clifford Chance, CMS Cameron McKenna and DLA, as well as Professor Philip Styles of the University of Cambridge, to see how far things have changed and why.

IT departments struggle to deliver flexible working

According to a recent report by Sterry Communications, a voice and data solutions and services provider, 73 per cent of professional-service firms in the UK now permit flexible working, beating the average of 61 per cent in other sectors. However, IT departments are feeling the burden of delivering the technology required for flexible working.

Special focus: Strategic HR for law firms

HR has become a popular subject in many law firms, as the profession attempts to benchmark itself against blue-chip clients, competing with law firms to provide the best services by paralleling the client’s business operations both externally and internally. On an external level, firms are keen to demonstrate value-added services based on a good knowledge of their clients’ businesses and the markets in which they operate. To strengthen and support those services, however, firms are recognising the importance of focusing on their internal infrastructure. And, in a business where profitability lies in the knowledge and expertise of the firm’s people, the concept of HR has won many supporters.

Thought leader

I have to confess to a mix of feelings at this time of the year – seasonal melancholy overwritten by a renewed sense of anticipation. The cause of this condition is not the changing colours of the foliage but rather the arrival of the annual intake of new trainees into my firm. I recognise that both emotions may be attributable to my age.

A question of value: An in-house perspective

A law firm can sell itself on a range of capabilities: expertise, geographical location, size and technology to name but a few. All might come to nothing, however, if the legal team pitching the prospective client does not know how those resources might meet the particular needs of the client company.

To be better strangers

Management themes such as client, knowledge and risk management, marketing and effective HR, are integrated through cultural ideals of teamwork, collegiality, communication and consensus. All are part of a management lingo that has penetrated the workings of the modern law firm, marking the move of many from a traditional partnership to corporate ideals. However, is this really the best way forward for a professional practice? Christopher Honeyman Brown, chief executive of ASB Law, asks whether law firms know just what they are risking when they embrace the concepts of the business world.