Clint Evans: Barlow Lyde & Gilbert

After rowing across the Atlantic, it seems no mission is too big for BLG’s new CEO Clint Evans, who plans to apply the same theories to his next challenge

Name:

Clint Evans
Firm: Barlow Lyde & Gilbert
Title: CEO
Firm turnover: £76.2m
Total number of lawyers: 271

Clint Evans’ CV
Education: BSc in Pharmacology, University of London; MSc in Organisational Behaviour, University of London
Work history:
1984: Graduate trainee, Unilever
1985: Trainee accountant, Deloitte
1992: Senior manager, Deloitte
1993: Management consultant, Deloitte
1994: Head of competitive strategy, BDO Stoy Hayward
1995: Senior management development, BDO Stoy Hayward
2001: Head of branding, Clifford Chance
2004: Director, Henley Management College
2007: CEO, Barlow Lyde & Gilbert

Olympic champion James Cracknell and television presenter Ben Fogle caused a media storm when they rowed naked in the Atlantic Rowing Race 2006. The pair, however, were not the actual winners of the race. That honour went to the C2 duo, one half of which was the new man about the legal town, Barlow Lyde & Gilbert’s (BLG) first-ever CEO Clint Evans.

Evans, who started at BLG two months ago to the day (17 July), says that his gruelling 51 days, two hours and 10 minutes voyage with his rowing partner Chris Andrews has many key parallels that can be translated into how he will work within his new firm.

Evans quips that while at sea there are chops and changes that can be soul destroying, but, as in business, as long as you remain focused on the final objective, it is possible to ride out the rough patches.

“Also, being in a team such as C2, where you have highly competitive people, it’s likely that there’s going to be a difference of opinion,” explains Evans. “So it’s key that there’s proper communication to ensure that we work well together to overcome the rough times.

“There’s no point just simply having a chat at the beginning of the race. There needs to be continual dialogue throughout.”

Evans believes that this form of communication is also essential within any firm. “Every part of a business needs to be talking to each other to ensure that everyone is moving in the same direction,” he says.”The final challenge, both out at sea and in business, is reacting to change.

“You can get stuck in the middle of a hurricane, but it’s a question of reacting to weather the storm and have a clear plan of how to recover.”

It is the question of recovery that led to BLG bringing Evans on board. The firm, in recent history, has had its own storms to weather. It has felt the pinch as a result of the litigation slowdown, leading to its average profit per equity partner remaining stagnant at £380,000 for the past three years.

Even as Evans was settling into his new position over the summer, several of BLG’s big hitters, including financial services regulatory chief Chris Warren-Smith, Singapore boss David Johnston and corporate partner Jonathan Deverill, left, or are set to leave, the BLG family at a rate of almost a partner a month.

If Evans’ track record is anything to go by, BLG will soon be in calm waters. The chartered accountant was instrumental in turning accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward into a challenger to the ‘big four’.

When Evans joined BDO in 1994 it was globally ranked eleventh. After Evans’ seven-year stint, initially as the head of competitive strategy and then as head of senior management development, the accountancy firm moved up to fifth.

In the legal world, Evans was head of branding at Clifford Chance in 2001, following its merger with US firm Rogers & Wells, and was drafted in to ensure a smooth integration and a uniform corporate profile for the combined entity.

Although Evans has only been in situ for two months, he has already developed some firm ideas of what he wants to do with BLG.

“Looking forward, I believe that it’s important that there is communication between different parts of BLG,” he says. “There’s a wealth of talent among the firm’s partners and there are some circumstances where, if these partners worked more closely together, we could offer clients new services.

“By joining up the dots we can unleash the untapped talent at the firm.”

Evans claims that the firm has carved its own niche, which effectively puts it in a “ranking table of one” as “there’s no one other firm that offers the overall package that Barlows offers”.

His vision is to build on the firm’s strengths and to broaden its marketing appeal from simply being known in the legal world as “the lawyers’ law firm”.

To this end, in the past two months he has been individually meeting the BLG partners – 70 of them so far – and aims to meet all 79 before setting up a formal strategy for the firm.

The firm, before Evans came on board, had already kick-started an attempt to change how it is perceived within the legal profession, undergoing a visual rebrand, changing its logo and colour from blue to red, on 1 May this year when BLG converted to LLP status.

“Changing the logo is all well and good, but what’s needed now is ensuring that the message behind the brand is a coherent one,” explains Evans.

With the new CEO at the helm and knowing what he wants, it appears that BLG may have found its bridge to get over the troubled waters.