The Lawyer management: Hardwicke

Amanda Illing, chief executive officer

Illing

Amanda Illing joined Hardwicke in 2009 and took over as chief executive in 2012 after the retirement of Anne Buxton. Prior to Hardwicke she was a practice director at Matrix Chambers for nine years.

What are the key elements of your role?

Management of the service function of chambers, leading the staff team, client relationship management, business development and career development of barristers and staff. I once described my job as “marketing, sales, and occasional therapist”.It requires huge amounts of energy, enthusiasm, creativity, humour, diplomacy and a human touch.

How has your role changed during your time here?

I came to Hardwicke in 2009 as practice director to restructure and modernise the practice management team. Such is the nature of Hardwicke’s business approach that my appointment in 2009 was part of the succession plan for me to be considered as CEO when Ann Buxton retired. I have been CEO since the autumn of 2012, working with heads of chambers Paul Reed QC and Nigel Jones QC to devise and implement chambers’ new five-year strategic plan. My background in practice management and my strong relationships with clients gives me a good understanding what clients need and how barristers can deliver a quality service, as well as how barristers’ careers can develop. Hardwicke getting three silks this year is testament to that.

What impact are the structural changes to the UK legal market having on your firm and role?

Our supply chain is changing and some of our clients have merged. We have conducted a listening exercise with key clients to help deliver what they want, recognising that their supply chain is also changing.

What’s on your to-do list?

Clients’ needs; quality standards; relationships; career development for barristers; strategic recruitment of established barristers to join us; staff training and development; corproate social responsibility; and my contribution as a trustee of both the Public Law Project and the London Legal Support Trust.

What was the most pressing item you faced last year?

Writing our strategic plan and setting out my vision and direction of travel for Hardwicke for the next five years.

What have been the key ways in which you have improved the efficiency of the firm?

After going on a week’s leadership course at the Judge Business School in Cambridge my first job was to ensure that Hardwicke was strategically aligned with its goals and ambitions, and that our resources and energies were being used in the right direction. The extensive refurbishment of our building in Lincoln’s Inn, and the fantastic client suite that was created, tie in to Hardwicke’s ambition to be a more modern set of chambers focused on excellent client care. In addition, we brought in Lusso to provide in-house catering and hospitality services to our clients and barristers.

Who would you most like to get stuck in a lift with?

It would have to be Nelson Mandela and Billy Bragg.

What problem would you most like technology to solve? 

Being in six places at once.

If you weren’t doing this, what else would you like to be doing?

Growing organic vegetables in Suffolk.

What’s your favourite part of the day?

Relaxing at home with my husband at the end of an exhausting day with a glass of wine.

What’s the most important lesson your role has taught you?

Plan everything, but be flexible; lead from the heart, but do the right thing.

Financials (for 2011/12 year-end):

Turnover: £16.29m

Chambers contributions: 14 per cent

The plan

Illing says: “Hardwicke’s five-year plan puts into words the targets set for all members of chambers. “This includes a focus on the provision of a quality service to clients and an emphasis on building lasting relationships with clients as well as being creative and innovative in order to meet their pressures and needs in a changing

market.

“Hardwicke members are also required to be proactive and strategic in terms of membership/recruitment while investing in marketing, business support, and practice development.”

Chambers facts:

Number of barristers: 80

Number of silks: 7

Number of staff: 15

Number of clerks: 10

Systems:

InQuisita Law