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Herbert Smith is attempting to reverse the trend of corporatisation of law firms, with its management being decentralised and handed back to the partners.
Senior partner David Gold wants to shift the firm’s managerial emphasis, with the onus for driving the firm forward moving away from him and onto every partner in the firm.
Gold said the aim is for the firm to be run as a partnership as opposed to a corporation, with every partner taking responsibility for how it develops.
So far the firm’s litigation practice has been restructured and the intention is to roll out the strategy to other practice areas.
Gold said the reasoning behind the creation of a stand-alone arbitration group was to build a small, focused unit with more responsibility for its own business.
“It’s freestanding and covers London and Paris, with seven to eight partners who follow the line that it’s their vision, their responsibility,” he said. “They have support, but it’s their job to find the most talented people to work with them.
“We still need to work out how to internationalise it beyond London and Paris.”
Gold said the finance practice has also been restructured to focus on specific areas, such as acquisition finance, rather than trying to cover all parts of the practice.
“A small team’s putting together that vision and going out and getting it,” he said.
Gold stressed that the small group strategy would not be forced on any practice area, with the point of the exercise being to see how groups can evolve over time.