The Lawyer Management: Just Costs

Mark Beaumont is head of business development for the London office of Just Costs Solicitors. He is the initial point of contact for business across southern England having joined the firm’s City base in early 2009 from his own company, ExecSearch.


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Beaumont: lawyers aren’t business-savvy

How has your role changed during your time at the firm?

When I joined, the London office was only six months old and heavily reliant on work coming in via our other locations [in Manchester and Chesterfield].

The London launch was part of a strategic move to focus on the costs of commercial litigation and complex catastrophic injury work, so my first task was to build a client base.

The role has developed to take on more client management, strategy, recruitment and training.

What are the most significant external issues that have an impact on your role?

The Jackson reforms will, of course, affect our sector. The traditional task of preparing bills of costs will be replaced by a more consultative role around costs and funding, which will add much more value for clients.

Relationships that operate at this level take longer to nurture, but reward businesses and individuals that focus on personal relationships and tailored services.

What impact, if any, are the structural changes to the UK legal market having on your firm and your role?

All the changes are forcing costs lawyers to rethink their role, quite rightly in my opinion. Our advice is enabling clients to use costs and funding as tools to win business, increase their monthly billing and maximise their profitability as well as win cases.

We are putting an intense focus on the training of our clients as well as our own staff so they can make the most of the opportunities that will present themselves in this period of change.

What was the most pressing issue you faced relating to the operational side of the firm last year and how did you resolve it?

A willingness to confront problems has been one of the keys to our success. Last year, following rapid expansion, we felt some staff might not be feeling fully engaged with the business.

We brought in Mark Allison from Digital Opinion to survey all staff and report to the board. We have since implemented several of the recommendations, with a corresponding increase in staff commitment levels. This exercise will now be done annually.

What problem would you most like technology to solve?

The ability to draw on real-time management information would be beneficial, especially if this could be communicated both internally and to clients.

Describe the management structure of your organisation:

Unlike most costs businesses, we have professional management teams that oversee operations, HR, IT and business development in each of our offices. The board sits above this and is able to focus on finance and strategy.

How many people are in your core team and who are they?

We have a six-strong business development team that includes our director Mark Hartigan and representatives in each office location.

What are your team’s core responsibilities?

In addition to sales and marketing, the core responsibility of each member is client management and ensuring a consistent and quality service is maintained across all our offices.

Who do you report to?

On a day-to-day basis I report to Sally Dunscombe who manages the London region. Mark Hartigan heads the business development team.

What is the most important lesson your role has taught you?

The legal world may be full of intelligent people, but it’s certainly not full of business people.

Firm facts

 

Financials

Total turnover: £4.9m

North West: £1.65m

North East: £1.1m

South: £2.15m

What next?

“This is an exceptional period of change within the legal industry generally, as well as in the legal costs environment more specifically,” says Beaumont. “We are about to see some tremendous opportunities up for grabs for those businesses andindividuals that have made the appropriate preparations and are flexible enough to operate in a rapidly evolving legal environment.”

IT systems

CRM, PMS, DMS: Proclaim by Eclipse

Other: Bill of costs (BOC) drafting software was developed in-house