Critical Friend or Non-Executive Director (NED)

It’s so obvious as to go almost without saying that a law firm, like any other business, needs to be well-led and well-managed. Clients won’t instruct your firm, however good your lawyers are, if they have the impression that the firm is a ‘motel for lawyers’ or is lax about risk management. And law firms are beginning to look at and accept the value of experienced, independent minds attending their management or governance meetings.

Many leaders and leadership teams in law firms recognise the value in having a ‘critical friend’, one that sees things in the firm that the group sees only as wallpaper, one who brings an objective, untrammelled mind to the many challenges that present themselves.

The benefits to law firms of suitably qualified NEDs include:

  • A fresh, external perspective
  • A contribution to strategy development and performance improvement
  • Strengthening both leadership and management
  • Helping instill a more stringent process for making strategic decisions
  • Helping firms articulate their vision, win buy-in, gain commitment and lead by example.

What does ‘suitably qualified’ mean? Well, I’d argue that it means someone who has first class diagnostic skills, has experience as a NED/critical friend or at the highest level in law firms, can help with both strategy formulation and implementation and has a proven track record of delivery.

A NED needs in any event to be a ‘critical friend’ to the firm, one that challenges the status quo and is a sounding board for the leadership team. One that can help coach and mentor the firm’s leaders, whether that be at ‘C’ level or a Head of Department.

Not convinced? Appointing a NED doesn’t just help your firm as outlined above. Research by Executive Search firm Edward Drummond shows that firms which have a NED grow up to a third faster than those which don’t!

If you would like to discuss how I can help you and your firm, please e-mail or telephone 07753 605236.