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Pictons chief executive officer (CEO) David Lambert is unusual in having a vision for the firm that he describes as “transient”. Some CEOs and managing partners might bridle at the suggestion of ‘transience’ in their thinking. But not Lambert.
“A lot of law firms adopt a very fixed vision of where they want to go,” says Lambert. “But we believe that this is impossible given the dynamic changes occurring in the legal sector.
“Our vision is transient precisely because it needs to be a developing vision, one which evolves in line with issues such as Clementi.” Similarly legal aid. Pictons has long had a substantial legal aid practice, but as Lambert puts it: “Legal aid continues but is under review, as rates are pegged and the Government continues to undermine this service.”
Established in 1967, Pictons has expanded through a combination of organic growth, acquisition and merger to become rated as one of the top full-service firms in the South East. Each of its five offices, which are spread over Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, holds a legal aid franchise for family, clinical negligence and criminal work.
In June this year, Pictons became one of the 149 firms in the UK so far to convert from being a traditional partnership to limited-liability partnership (LLP) status. Lambert sees the switch to LLP status as logical, given the market and the way in which Pictons has been growing. “We chose to adopt the new status to support planned further growth and the development of core services,” he says. “Operating as an LLP will provide a stronger platform for this expansion by reducing the level of business risk. The reaction from our clients to the change has been very positive.”
There is no disguising Lambert’s underlying ambition for the firm, and pride in its achievements. “We’ve built up a considerable and diverse client base, adding specialist skills in fraud, clinical negligence and IP at the same time as continuing to grow our commercial, crime and family work,” he says. “We departmentalised the firm so that members could return to concentrating their efforts and skills on the delivery of first-class legal services. Growth has meant that staff numbers have increased by 40 per cent to around 300 in total.”
Although his vision is avowedly transient, Lambert has a clear sense of where the firm is going. “In five years we might have a similar number of branches, but I’m sure we’ll be a lot bigger,” he says.
“Expansion will be a consequence of the market – the sector will demand larger and larger companies as regulations become ever stricter and greater capital is required – but also of our own aims. We plan to concentrate solicitor resources in strategic locations and, in 2005, make discreet investment in selected areas.”
But that transient sense of things abides. “We’ll carry on our flexible response to the potential regulatory changes that are likely to impact on us all,” he promises.
Chief executive officer
Total number of members
Total number of lawyers
Main practice areas
Civil, commercial, crime, family, property and wills, trusts and probate
Banks, charities, estate agents and the Legal Services Commission
Number of offices
Bedford, Hemel Hempstead, Luton, Milton Keynes and St Albans