The Future's Bright
8 May 2017
The Law Society Gazette
Launched at the Law Society at the end of April, I was sent a pre-publication electronic version of this book. The final version has gone through a number of revisions, including a change to chapter order.
The author, Peter Noyce, is a legal specialist partner at Menzies LLP, a top 20 firm of accountants, finance and business advisors, with offices across the south east. However, he has not written all the chapters. Rather, he has invited, for example, the President of the Law Society, Robert Bourns, to contribute a section on the future of legal services.
Within Noyce’s own chapters, there is input from others, too, for example, from Twentysixpr on reputation management. As such, it took a little time to get used to the format. It then dawned on me that reading this book was akin to attending a really good law management conference and getting to chat to some key players, too.
The work is detailed and thorough, competently covering areas such as, mergers, retirement planning, finance, cyber crime and, indeed, Brexit. Across its 20 or so chapters, its content is emphatic enough so it could easily do without the frequent exclamation marks. These probably come from an apparent lightness of style which does make it an accessible read, as well as a jolly helpful one.
The author accepts that many of the topics the book covers are not new but are brought together as a one-stop practical guide which can be dipped into. Good advice is certainly worth repeating. In his section, “Show me the Money” he urges us to take every opportunity we can to raise a bill. “Remember to bill the client at the completion of a good job when client satisfaction is likely to be at its highest, not some weeks later when your performance has dwindled in their mind”.
The chapter on professional indemnity assurance is delivered by Colin S Taylor, FINEX Global, Willis Towers Watson. It is a handy insight into an area that is all too often unclear, and includes some good pointers on risk management.
Nigel Haddon and Richard Burcher, both of Burcher Jennings, tackle pricing, “the most important profitability lever”. They say that it is hard to think of many things further than client care than most law firms’ client care letters – “long complex, full of jargon” written with our regulators in mind rather than our clients. They simplify what should form the written record sent to the client after the initial pricing conversation with them.
Breakaways from “Big Law”, small, agile boutique law firms, are proving serious competition to larger players, says the President. Such niche practices, developing their own business without the corporate structures and costs of a large firm, can be the market leaders in their fields.
This book really does offer some very bright thinking, for both smaller and larger practices.