Chris Hawley is the finance director of Manchester-headquartered firm Linder Myers. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1996 and spent the next 13 years in various finance, operational and training roles. He has previously worked at Kemp Little and Hogan Lovells.
Please describe the key elements of your role:
It includes strategic and operational management, presentation and communication of management information, and performing due diligence on prospective merger partners. My current priority is the integration of the firms we’ve recently merged with.
How has your role changed during your time at the firm?
On joining the firm two years ago, my remit was to develop the management reporting infrastructure. Linder Myers has enjoyed significant growth in recent years so my role has evolved, with more focus on managing merger transitions.
What are the most significant external issues that have an impact on your role?
The challenging economic environment, but the profession is also facing increased regulatory pressure and focus by the SRA on how firms are managed with regard to risk and client care. ABS has, as yet, had little impact on us.
What impact if any are the structural changes to the UK legal market having on your firm and your role?
Internally, the opportunity for non-lawyers to have an equity stake in the business is beneficial to finance directors and others. It’s encouraging that senior partners in many firms understand the benefits non-legal professionals can bring and are willing to share business ownership. Externally, the chance for firms to raise private equity finance is exciting, but in my opinion the profession still has some way to go before it’s seen as a lucrative sector for equity houses to invest in.
What’s in your in-tray?
We’re nearing our year-end and I’m working on the integration of firms we have recently merged with, and also on the launch of our practice management system, so it’s an exciting and busy time.
What have been the key ways in which you have improved the efficiency of the firm?
The launch of our practice management system will create operational efficiencies, assisting fee-earners and creating chances for value-added roles in support teams.
Please describe the management structure of your organisation
We have management teams representing finance, marketing, business development, HR and IT, and directors and managers reporting directly to the managing partner.
How many people do you have in your core team?
I have 13 people including a financial controller and two team leaders who oversee the operations of the accounts and credit control teams.
What are your team’s core responsibilities?
Managing financial and management reporting requirements.
Which board/s do you sit on?
The operations board and all equity members’ meetings.
Who do you report to?
Our managing partner, Bernard Seymour.
What’s the most important lesson your role has taught you?
All problems have a solution and when approaching a difficult budiness issue there’s usually more than one way to achieve a successful outcome.
Any other comments?
Linder Myers is my fourth law firm in over 15 years in the sector. This is by far the most exciting and challenging position of my career to date.
Net profit: £4.8m (pre-recent merger, The Lawyer’s UK 200)
Average profit per equity partner: £200,000
Bottom of equity: £122,000
Top of equity: £244,000
Need for speed
“As we continue to grow the
firm we have identified the need for a modernised and fully integrated system,” says Hawley. “We’re about to launch Elite’s LawSoft practice management system, which will integrate our customer relationship management, database management, case management, accounting, billing, credit control and time management needs.
“Altogether, this should facilitate better efficiency throughout the business.”
Practice Management System: LawSoft – Elite