At the start of 2011 Taylor Wessing made two senior hires as part of an extensive reshaping of its board. One was Clare Singleton, previously chief of staff at accountancy firm Deloitte, who joined the firm as chief operating officer (COO).
What does your role involve?
It’s extremely varied – it ranges from strategy to sandwiches.
Who reports to you?
The five directors of our core support functions: IT; risk management; facilities, including catering; knowledge and information, which is primarily research-based; and knowledge management, which focuses on know-how. I spend half of my time working with my team and half working with Tim [Eyles, Taylor Wessing UK managing partner] and the board.
What are the most significant external or internal issues that have an impact on your role?
We’re aligning our reporting systems to reflect the strategic direction of the firm. That involves generating the same level of information for industry groups as we do for practice groups. That way we should be able to see where we’re getting a return on our investments. At the moment we’re looking at revenue reporting – in other words, producing automatic reports by industry group on the revenue they produce. The next thing to look at will be profitability reporting. I’m involved in managing this and am working with Tim to make sure our people are aligned to our five-year strategy.
What’s in your in-tray?
One thing is examining opportunities in new jurisdictions. [Among these, Taylor Wessing is looking at plans to open an office in the Netherlands.] That involves working with the partners to set up a project plan, identifying firms we could work with, coordinating partner time and the business services people, and so on. Much of it is about coordination and keeping the energy going.
What technology does the firm use to increase efficiency?
In May we launched New Street Solutions [NSS], a group within the firm that harnesses technology with legal expertise, in alliance with the technology platform Swiss Post Solutions. It was our response to the pressure on fees. [Last year Taylor Wessing reported that in trials NSS, which focuses on data mining, contract management and due diligence, delivered efficiency savings of a minimum of 60 per cent on the cost of core business and legal processes].
We’ve taken a hard look at our IT spend with a view to making it more efficient. We’ve not gone down the IT outsourcing road. We don’t believe we’re big enough or multi-location enough to make significant savings.
Are the same systems used in Germany? Are they integrated?
Some are. We’ve agreed a core set of systems and will be moving to them over the next couple of years.
I’d rather not say.
Which board/s do you sit on?
I sit on the UK executive board and report to Tim Eyles.
Earnings per partner: £293,000
Profit per equity partner: £402,000
Top of equity: £723,000
Bottom of equity: £301,000
Cost per lawyer: £203,000
Financial management:Taylor Wessing operates a managed lockstep based on how much business partners generate, management contributions and business development roles. The decision is based on a judgement made by an elected body of partners rather than a numerical weighting system. The firm has separate profit pools in different jurisdictions, but provided a global average profit per equity partner (PEP) of £402,000 in the last financial year. UK PEP was considerably higher at £537,000 – up by 18.5 per cent on 2009-10. Average WIP globally at the last year-end was 47.7 days (23.7 in the UK), while the average number of debtor days was 68.4 (65.7)
Aderant: practice management system
Autonomy: document management
Interaction: client relationship management
Source: Taylor Wessing