Eversheds’ partners have given support to the firm’s vision of change, with a majority voting in favour of a transformative strategy.
At Eversheds’ practice group conference last week 60 per cent of lawyers voted in favour of the notion that the firm needed to change to meet the evolving needs of the market.
Using voting pads the management team asked the practice groups to respond to questions related to the economic pressures faced by the sector. Asked whether law firms needed to adapt in general, around 70 per cent said they did.
The firm’s chief executive Bryan Hughes said that the conference explored the detail of delivering the 2020 Vision which he revealed to partners and associates last year (9 July 2012). The long term plan is more aspirational than the three-year plan, with the firm aiming to overtake its competitors by “setting the standard” in things like innovation, relationships and quality
“We’re looking at the whole cradle to grave process and how we work with clients,” Hughes said, explaining that while other firms may hang on for big ticket transactional work, Eversheds is aiming to serve clients day-to-day and offer a ‘holistic’ service.
Hughes said that becoming a truly international firm was a big trend for this year’s conference and was one of the “core standards” of the strategy.
“We want to be global with a focus on offering a consistent quality of service across all our offices. At the moment we have a presence in 25 countries, with further investment planned,” he said.
Eversheds showed its commitment to global integration earlier this year, with more than 60 per cent of the new partners it made up being based outside the UK (30 April 2013).
Other core standards, Hughes explained further, centred around relationships and innovation. He said sharing risk with clients is one of the ways that Eversheds has innovated in the past and will continue to do so by looking at pricing, and in particular the use of conditional and contingency fee arrangements.
“We would look at the client’s whole portfolio to assess its value. If it’s worth £10m in total, we might take it on an £8m retainer, that way we’re guaranteed the work and the client makes a £2m saving,” he said.
The conference takes place bi-annually alternating with the partner conference. This year it was in Birmingham and lasted four days.
Having recently restructured the practice groups, Hughes said this was an opportunity for newly appointed heads, such as real estate group leader David Watkins, to outline their strategies (31 May 2013).
Real estate was the first group up, meeting on Tuesday, with HR and pensions on Wednesday, litigation and dispute management on Thursday and company commercial on Friday.
Each day consisted of Hughes talking about the macro-economic challenges facing the sector, managing partner Lee Ranson discussing competition, pricing, technology and alternative business structures and finance director Kathryn Fleming reflecting on the firm’s achievements.
The management team then gave an update on progress against the strategy and set each group challenges aligned with specified objectives to rationalise and globalise the business.
Hughes said while economic recovery remains stagnant it is impossible for the firm not to change the way it does business. He said to become better the firm had to become more competitive.