North East firm Watson Burton has redefined its management strategy with the appointment of its first managing director.
Patrick Harwood, who has headed the firm's finance department for nearly four years, will assume responsibility for the day-to-day running of the firm. His vacant position will be filled by Nick Delaney who has joined from local rival Ward Hadaway where he was interim finance director. As well as Harwood the new management board will comprise the three partners who are responsible for directing the firm's strategy. Andrew Hoyle, John Williams and Gillian Hall will relinquish part of their executive responsibilities to Harwood, who will concentrate on strategic development. Harwood said that the firm's previous system focused a considerable portion of high-profile partners' time on management, leaving less time for strengthening their practice areas. He said: "It's always going to be a compromise when the best lawyers have to manage. The new set-up will allow people to do what they are good at." Senior partner Hoyle said that equity partners often end up managing a firm's direction almost in their spare time. He said: "Patrick's new role will liberate some equity partners and allow us to achieve more than we would otherwise be able to." The firm, which has grown 22 per cent in the past year, is seeking to continue this trend by instituting a clearly defined management strategy. Hoyle said: "The appointment of Patrick is an important turn in allowing Watson Burton to manage the growth it is experiencing at the moment." Harwood said that by instituting a dedicated strategy and managing director the firm will be able to achieve more in a shorter period of time. For the past three years Harwood has been laying the foundations for this new management structure, implementing a practice-wide management system and IT strategy. Delaney will continue this work, focusing initially on developing the firm's IT systems.