The Lawyer Management - Bird & Bird
9 December 2013 | By Lucy Burton
Louise Field has been head of client service and insight at Bird & Bird since 2009. She has previously worked for Ernst & Young and RBS.
What would you say to graduates considering a career in client services?
Client service is still a relatively new area in the legal sector, many smaller firms are only now developing their client feedback and account management programmes. Be curious and take every opportunity to listen and learn.
What’s your biggest career lesson and why?
The biggest lesson I’ ve learned so far is to be more interested in where someone is going than where they’ve come from, to not underestimate people. I’ve reinvented myself several times over in my career already, taking advantage of opportunities that arise to leap into something new, stretch myself and develop new skills. And I always enjoy seeing others do the same, surprising themselves and others with their unexpected talents.
Who would you most like to get stuck in a lift with?
Eddie Izzard. I keep a selection of his comedy sketches on my iphone. A quick dose of his smart, eloquent silliness is a great way to start the day.
What does a head of client service and insight do on a day-to-day basis?
I spend my days listening to clients, bringing lawyers together from across the firm to talk about clients, giving partners new reasons to have conversations with clients, making it easier for our lawyers to deliver what clients want, and telling stories about client service successes. I work with colleagues across all of the legal and business support areas of the firm, and interact with clients across the globe, from San Francisco to Seoul.
How has this role changed during your time at the firm?
I joined the firm in 2009, a team of one responsible for the firm’s key account management and client listening programmes. I was attracted by the opportunity to manage these programmes together, because each is so important to the success of the other - the insight from client feedback guides our account management, and the structure of a key account programme ensures we can respond effectively to the client feedback we receive.
Since then both programmes have really become embedded in the way we work and I’ve been able to broaden my role to encompass customer relationship management and our client service offering. It’s a challenging and high-profile role now and I love it. I get to work closely not only with partners but on a range of projects with finance, knowledge and learning, HR, IT and a great team of dynamic colleagues.
What are the biggest challenges facing the sector from a client service perspective?
The increasing demands on in-house teams to deliver more for less, understanding the most effective and valuable ways to invest in client relationships and how to manage fee and service agreements for global clients operating in widely varying markets.
At Bird & Bird we’re using these challenges as opportunities to ask important questions: How can technology help us communicate more easily and meaningfully with our clients across the world? How can we use our knowledge and expertise to connect more effectively? What non-legal skills do we need to bring into our client-facing teams to work alongside our lawyers? How can we deliver our services in the most efficient way possible?
Client service is a space where firms can really differentiate and I do believe that innovative firms will find that there are win-win solutions for themselves and their clients.
Female partners: 56
Equity partners: 101
What’s the best part of your job?
”Getting to know the clients, partners and colleagues - what they want to achieve and what they need – and helping them make connections,” says Field. ”[Also] listening to our partners talk passionately about their clients’ businesses and the innovative approaches they are taking to find solutions that meet and exceed clients’ needs.”
Net profit: £47.5m
PMS: Aderant Expert
DMS: HP Autonomy