Lawyer Management: Hogan Lovells
29 July 2013 | By Lucy Burton
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Adam Soames, head of clients and markets
Adam Soames has been head of clients and markets at Hogan Lovells since 2008. He has previously worked at Grant Thornton and Deloitte.
What are the key elements of your role?
Leading our client development, practice and industry business development teams, as well as shaping and rolling out the firm’s approach to all aspects of client and business development including pitching for work, client relationship management and client feedback.
How has your role changed during your time at the firm?
It has become larger and more complex as the firm has grown and the market has become more international and competitive. However, the core principles of helping the firm in developing client relationships and growing revenues remain the same.
If you weren’t doing this, what else would you like to be doing?
Probably attempting to do a PhD and lecturing on an MBA programme. Failing that, coaching an NBA basketball team (an early pipe dream and passion of mine).
What impact are changes to the UK legal market having on your firm and your role?
It’s probably change at a global level that is having the greater impact. Clients are trying to better integrate their operations across borders and want law firms to deliver a seamless approach globally to managing their client relationships.
At the same time, clients are becoming more sophisticated and discerning in the way they purchase legal services, and consolidation in the legal market internationally – along with the entry of new players – is giving them greater choice, leading to greater competition.
In short, this means we have to pitch more often for work, and be smarter and more focused in our approach to winning and retaining clients.
What was the most pressing issue you faced last year?
Getting our global client research project delivered on time and on budget.
It was the largest one-off research exercise we had ever undertaken, speaking to around 300 senior client contacts around the world, and we believe one of the largest one-off exercises ever conducted by a law firm. It gave us some fantastic insights into what we do well as a firm, how we are perceived and the areas in which we can continue to improve.
How important is branding in the legal profession?
Very, and yet it is increasingly difficult to differentiate between the largest firms.
I believe you differentiate on the basis of your people and your approach to managing client relationships, and this is where the true brand resides.
What have been the key ways in which you have improved the efficiency of the firm?
Most fundamentally, by building a high-quality and highly motivated business development team to work with our lawyers.
This, supported by effective training and efficient systems and processes, has led to significant improvements in the way we approach all aspects of business and client development.
What’s your favourite part of day?
As a night owl, I find from 10pm to 2am my most productive and creative period in the day. It’s when the rest of the world shuts down, but I get some time to reflect and think about key tasks and challenges.
Who would you most like to get stuck in a lift with?
Other than a lift engineer, probably Michael Jordan – the greatest basketball player (and one of the greatest sportsmen) of all time. A consummate professional, Jordan always made the right decisions on and off the court – apart from a failed stint in baseball, which we shall overlook!
Number of partners: 804
Number of qualified lawyers: 2,280
Total number of staff: 5,340
Global revenue: £1.03bn
Slow, but sure
“Driving change in law firms – and, indeed, in professional services firms more generally – is a very much a marathon, not a sprint,” Soames responds, when asked about the most important lesson he has learned in the course of his career.
“Change will happen, but it just takes time. It’s all about being patient, persistent, persuasive and passionate about what you do. If you can get those things sorted you will ultimately bring people with you.
“Our global client research project has given us some useful pointers towards areas in which we can move forward.”
CRM: LexisNexis InterAction
DMS: OpenText eDocs DM