It’s so obvious as to go without saying that a law firm, like any other business, needs to be well-led and well-managed. But it’s still worth saying, with clients making it increasingly clear that believing that a firm is well-managed is an essential pre-condition for selection of a law firm (FT/MPF Effective Client Adviser Relationships 2012). Clients won’t instruct your firm, however good your lawyers are, if they have or gain the impression that the firm is a ‘motel for lawyers’, or is lax about risk management. And law firms and barristers’ chambers are beginning to look at and accept the value of experienced, independent minds attending their management or governance meetings.
The increasingly visible role of the non-executive at a law firm or chambers is a sign that law is finally growing up as an industry and recognising that its major players need to run themselves like a corporate, subject to principles of good governance. Management teams benefit from a positive challenge to the ‘way things are done here’, and issues can be explored and resolved in a de-personalised way. The level of discussion can be elevated to matters more suited to a meeting of the owners of the business, focussing on strategy, execution of plans, accountability, and the threats and opportunities your firm or set faces.
Unconvinced? The well known author, strategist and adviser to law firms, Patrick J McKenna, puts it far more clearly and persuasively than we can. Read his piece “Why Law firms need Non Executive Directors” here.
Nigel Haddon’s non-executive work includes both retained appointments to work with your leadership for a period, and focused work for the owners of the business on matters such as strategy, structures, and preparation for merger or sale.