Leader

How times change. Collyer Bristow has just appointed a former client care manager as its chief executive, in the shape of Jonathan Fox, who was formerly at DLA.`Now I am sure that among some of the old school there will be a raised eyebrow or two about the fact that a marketeer is overseeing a law firm, but mostly the response will be friendly interest.`For now law firms are really getting to grips with client care, realising that their take-home pay depends on being nice to those pesky people who insist on ringing all the time. Lawyers are listening and the idea of merely regurgitating black letter law is, fortunately, an anathema to any law firm that counts.`Of course no one is perfect – at this year's The Lawyer Monte Carlo there were a few whinges from the in-housers that they were just not interested in the proffered presentations or souvenir pens and instead wanted someone who knew exactly what they did for a living.`But the entries for the client care category for The Lawyer Awards show new maturity and innovation, with law firms ranging from high street to the City. Client care is no longer about ticking boxes, it's a central part of on-going training into which thousands of pounds are poured every year – lawyers have finally realised that, in this area, you have got to spend both time and money to accumulate.`In short, client care is no longer treated as an additional extra or an excuse to down champagne once a year at Ascot, it is the keystone for many practices.`Fox says that his aim is to improve Collyer Bristow's personal touch by following the example of the high street banks. Not the ones that brag about being BIG while simultaneously closing down branches all over the country, but the ones that have realised that if they are going to increase their clientele then it's quite useful to have branches for people to fill out the forms in; the ones who have realised that not everyone wants to talk to a computer.`Wouldn't it be nice if public perception of the legal fat cats (are you listening Mr Straw?) caught up?