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  • Gerard Petersen

Swimming through treacle? What is your firm's strategy ?



How’s this for a refreshingly honest National law firm self-assessment:

  • The firm is struggling to have its own confidence

  • As a whole, confidence is down in the business

  • But there is a range of success (some really good, some really bad) across the firm and this means performance (and emotions) is varied. This presents its own issues, at Partnership level and otherwise, but as a firm we know this and are managing it.

  • The next 12 months will be small, incremental steps, real organic growth is incredibly hard in this market

  • At the moment we feel like we are swimming through treacle, it’s really tough going. Numbers are down.

  • We have strategically decided as a business that we will take an economically counter-cyclical approach and invest in people and growth

  • We need to create and give confidence to our people about the future

  • Whist we have our costs under control which is good, we do not expect much organic financial growth – in reality any real growth will be through lateral acquisition or merger

  • We have changed our business model to adapt to the market. As a firm we think that we now offer a “pretty unique model” to the Partner market

I'm not sure about you, but hearing this level of corporate self-awareness and frankness is refreshing.  It makes me confident that this firm, with it's strong leadership, lack of bullsh*t and nimble strategy is one who I want my good candidates to know about.


For me and my consultants this is but a sliver of the valuable information that we intimately gain through our close relationships with the Managing Partners and CEO's of our law firm clients – not to mention what we glean from seeing first-hand in our interview rooms every day who actually goes in and out of each firm and for what reasons.


All of this information helps us advise our candidates of the best career move for them, personally, at their unique stage of life and career. For example, this firm that I refer to above, is career suicide for a "Duck". I would never advise it.  In fact, only yesterday, I actively encouraged a senior candidate away from it because that particular person would have failed, guaranteed.  It was just not right for him at this stage in his professional development, or life for that matter.


Not sure what I mean by a “Duck” ?  Then please read one of my next posts.


If, on the other hand, after reading about Ducks and Eagles in one of my next posts you think you are an “Eagle”, this is most definitely the type of law firm you could think about a strategic career move to.


And for those Eagles out there, to help with your strategic career thinking, I think I might post a financial spreadsheet sometime next week that will let you calculate your value to certain firms in this current market.