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Morgan Cole is overhauling its international strategy and making a raft of management changes as it seekd to boost profitability and consolidate its post-merger integration.
The firm's turnover for 2000/ 2001 went up less than 8 per cent to £40m, while average profits per partner lingered around last year's £125,000 mark. The firm's informal referral networks were among strategy issues discussed at the firm's summer partnership meeting. The aim is to ensure that its referral relationships match the needs of its new focus on energy, insurance, technology and construction. Senior partner John Cole said: "What we want to do is build on the network we already have through the Association of European Lawyers and our own networks in the US and elsewhere. What we want to end up doing is working with top lawyers overseas in relation to our chosen target industries." As yet, there are no plans to set up a more concrete alliance. Cole said: "The first thing we have to do is talk to existing firms and just make an assessment of the depth of experience they have in the sectors we're talking about." Other issues discussed included the introduction of new practice groups and practice group leaders to replace the old team structure, and a new self-management culture for partners. Chief executive David Main said: "Most lawyers love to do the work, but they aren't always good at raising the bill with the client or chasing up the payment. "We're not going to leave people unmanaged. We're going to require people to be self-managing and not waste other people's time wetnursing them. Either people are capable of doing that and they belong with us, or they are not our sort of people." Head of business services Bleddyn Rees is the only practice group leader to be appointed so far. "The new practice group leaders won't necessarily be the same people as the old team leaders," said Main. The firm has suffered a series of partner losses following the 1998 merger to create Morgan Cole. Main said: "There are people who felt they didn't fit or we didn't feel they fitted in. All of that is linked to us putting in place the building blocks for improving profit going forward."