How would you define Clyde & Co’s culture? How important is firm culture to you?
Entrepreneurialism, respect and a client-first mentality are the three words that best describe us. We know this in part because we devoted our global partner conference in September to the subject and this was the product of our partner survey. The broader context is that as we grow and build out in markets around the world, our culture and values are the glue around which we are built. So culture – our DNA – is very important to us.
Since becoming senior partner, what’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
We have implemented a number of changes in the past two years that are designed to fit the firm for both the present and the future. With clients in mind, these changes include developing our production models to meet client pricing needs and formalising a number of global sector and practice groups, we have also developed. We have also developed more sophisticated and practical client relationship programmes and devolved greater responsibility to our regional boards so that we are fleeter of foot in terms of responding to localised client needs.
What are the biggest challenges facing firms of Clyde & Co’s size globally?
The market remains as complex and competitive as ever but the challenges have evolved. The art of listening to your clients and adapting with them remains fundamental and in good part our sector and practice group initiatives are geared to that.
Similarly the need to attract and retain the very best people to service those clients remains key. But the dynamics of the market, coupled with the fact that we are operating at a greater scale, means that we also need to invest more time and energy into making sure we have the right infrastructure, cost base and technology in place to help us meet our strategic aims.
What do you think are the top three things most clients want and why?
1. True partnership;
2. Insight above and beyond pure technical matters; and
3. The right advice at the right price.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
Yes. And it is moving at a rapid pace, albeit there is also plenty of hype out there. One of the interesting aspects of it though is that all of our clients
are feeling the pressure and the challenge as much as we are and that provides opportunity for new forms of partnership and relationship, which is exciting.
You mentioned talent retention earlier. What have you found are the best ways to keep your best people?
We analyse why people stay with us and why they leave and we know that, across the board, the number one key factor is opportunity to develop and progress. That is where we focus our time and attention.
How has your involvement in client-facing work changed since taking on larger management responsibilities?
A large part of my role is interfacing with clients across the firm, so in that sense I am spending more time with more clients than ever before. In terms of billable work I still lead some significant and challenging cases.
Looking back at your time as senior partner at legacy Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, and now as senior partner at Clyde & Co, how has your role changed?
The legal market tends not to do revolution but when you look back over, say, a decade it is remarkable how much the market changes. When Clyde & Co and BLG merged in 2011 it was the UK’s largest ever merger and it felt huge at the time but Clyde & Co is now double the size it was then and our outlook is now very much global.
That merger still stands out as an example of how, when you get it right, a merger can add up to much more than the sum of its parts, be hugely transformational and elevate you to a stronger position in the market.