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Welcome to Hed2Head, the blog from Hedley Consulting, providing regular, succinct opinion and insight into the fast-changing world of legal services.

For more detail on our work and thinking visit Hedley Consulting’s website.

The Challenges Of Leadership Are Different To The Challenges Of Management

Published in Managing Partner magazine
March 2016

Law firm leaders face many challenges and carry huge responsibilities. Decision making that will define the future of their firms, for better or for worse, rests on their shoulders. They must develop, evaluate, shape, and articulate a vision and strategy in ways which engage and motivate others. They need the ability to build a broad and deep consensus so that the mandate they carry out is robust.

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The Cultural Dimensions Of Leveraging Institutional Knowledge

Published in Managing Partner magazine
December 2015 / January 2016

Many law firms position themselves as having a client-centred strategy but fail to embrace knowledge sharing about clients and relationships. Generally, it is not a paucity of systems which prevents firms from capitalising on their client knowledge. Whilst systems will drive speed and efficiency, it is attitudes that drive effectiveness and enable firms to fulfil the potential of their client base. The term ‘knowledgeability’ best describes the attitudinal and cultural shifts that are needed. Knowledgeability is a collective term for the many techniques by which a firm’s latent knowledge can be transformed into business assets. The key to realising this opportunity is to shape culture to prioritise the sharing of knowledge and relationships.

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Team Morale Is Directly Linked To The Ability To Deliver Differentiated Client Services

Published in Managing Partner magazine
November 2015

In previous articles, I have written about how the lack of any meaningful differentiation between law firms on criteria that are of value to clients leads inexorably to price-driven competition. When we can see no difference between the services on offer, we buy the cheapest available. The same psychology plays out in the employer brand arena. Firms with only the blunt instrument of the salary cheque in their differentiation armoury are ill equipped to attract, secure and retain the best talent.

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Horizon Scanning To Identify And Capitalise On New Growth Opportunities

Published in Managing Partner magazine
October 2015

Ted Levitt, the economist and business thinker who penned the game-changing Marketing Myopia in 1960, commented that “the future belongs to people who see possibilities before they become obvious”. His words capture the essence of the challenge faced by many legal professionals. In a world where the pace of change is quickening and the future appears uncertain, how can firms identify the new markets that will define their sustainability and success?

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A strategic perspective on winning more business through pitches

Published in Managing Partner magazine
September 2015

Law firms are being subjected to evermore demanding pitch and tendering processes. Larger firms have teams dedicated to the winning of such business, whilst smaller firms tend to have a client partner who leads the firm’s response to such opportunities. Across the spectrum, there are some overall guidelines which, if followed, can help to improve win rates.

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A knowledge-led approach to business development is key to law firm resilience

Published in Managing Partner magazine
July / August 2015

There is a nexus between business development and knowledge management that few firms exploit to the maximum; indeed, in many cases, they do not actively exploit at all. When boiled down to its base elements, all that a law firm does is leverage knowledge and relationships. The key strategic question is how to unearth and use the latent knowledge embedded in the relationships between the firm and its clients, prospects, contacts, intermediaries, people and wider stakeholders.

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Attitudes to anticipate your law firm’s future

From next month, I will be writing a monthly column for Managing Partner magazine  in which I shall examine the how law firms can position themselves to create a future that is both profitable and sustainable – the concept of ‘future-proofing’. To achieve this will mean being prepared to take decisive actions today (which some may regard as being unnecessary or overkill) to ensure that firms are able to cope with that which is appearing on the distant horizon, as well as whatever is just around the corner.  Read more

Driving for Growth

My Editorial Advisory Board blog for Managing Partner magazine

http://www.managingpartner.com/blog/driving-your-law-firm-towards-more-aggressive-growth

Activity levels are on the increase in the UK legal market. Has the corner been turned? Can we now be more confident that the much-vaunted green shoots of economic growth have finally taken hold?

For the past twelve months, a growing swell of firms have reported increased activity levels; the challenge has been coping with enduring downward pressure on prices and implementing operational efficiencies in order to convert these increases into profits. Now we are seeing growth which suggests that some of these price pressures are easing too.  Read more

Want to disrupt the industry? It’s time to run a different race

My guest article for LexisNexis The Future of Law blog.

http://lexislegalintelligence.co.uk/intelligence/blawg/2013/06/want-to-disrupt-the-industry-its-time-to-run-a-different-race/

We have seen many examples of efforts to improve efficiency and to reduce costs since the start of the great recession. We have witnessed firms conduct restructurings, enter into outsourcing arrangements, implement process reengineering, invest in IT and knowledge management systems, reshape partnerships and consider alternative business structures and external investment.

The core challenge, however, lies in developing strategy which is not centred on running the same race as everyone else, only faster or better. Such “me too” strategies in a law firm context are difficult to sustain in the longer term. This is because, within a peer group, incremental operational efficiencies can be relatively easily replicated and so any cost or profit advantage that has been achieved is fast eroded. The risk is that the reality of pursuing such strategies over an extended business cycle is simply a reduction in fees-charged per unit of activity in what fast becomes a race to the bottom. That is not to say that innovation in operational efficiency is not important but rather that it is unlikely to be sufficient.

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External investment: Can the legal profession really deliver a decent return?

My guest blog for Totum Partners (www.totumpartners.com) the leading law firm management recuitment consultancy.

This month we welcome guest blogger Andrew Hedley, who provides a few salutary lessons for law firms that are serious about attracting external investors.

There was much excitement from the private equity community a few years ago when the possibility of external investment into law firms first raised its head.  I had a number of conversations with potential investors who waxed lyrical about the “mouth-watering” profitability available in the sector. They clearly had no understanding of the operating basis of the traditional law firm financial model!

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