The Lawyer Management: Thomas Eggar
6 August 2012 | By Lucy Burton
Before joining Thomas Eggar in 2009, Ann Hemming supported online learning at technology solutions company Tikit and was previously head of e-learning at LexisNexis Butterworths.
What are currently the most significant external issues that have an impact on your role?
The most significant factors are, of course, the changing face of legal services in the UK and our firm’s strategic reaction to those changes. Managing KM and L&D means that we have to be very aware of factors affecting our marketplace, so I’m constantly looking at new innovations in technology. At the same time I’m also working with our risk team to make sure we have robust compliance procedures and training in place.
What impact are the structural changes to the UK legal market having on your firm and your role?
We’re very conscious that the changes are going to be far reaching and we need to adapt and innovate in this new marketplace. My role is to make sure that we have the best-trained staff working at the right level and the best and most efficient know-how technology solutions so that we see change as an opportunity and not a threat. I think one of the key ways this has affected my role personally is that I work not only with Thomas Eggar but also as a consultant in the legal industry; this gives me personally and also the firm the benefit of a broader perspective on the changing marketplace.
What’s currently in your in-tray?
Right now I’m looking at how we can develop our strategy for apprenticeships, how we can make the most of SharePoint and social media and also create an exciting online training portfolio for staff and clients. Great fun, but that’s just this month.
What was the most pressing item you faced relating to the operational side of the firm last year and how did you resolve it?
I think there were two really important agenda items for me last year. One was improving our efficiency and ability to be flexible in our support services. The other was to work with our marketing and brand development team to refresh our brand. Working with the marketing and BD team on these initiatives has been of huge benefit.
What have been the key ways in which you have improved the efficiency of the firm?
Our Academy has made a huge impact on the way we deliver training. On the KM side, our partnerships with suppliers have meant we have been able to increase access to KM services and still reduce spend.
What are the primary ways in which you source suppliers to the business?
We tend to procure through tender and appoint panels of suppliers who meet with us regularly.
Can you briefly describe the management structure of your organisation?
Our practice group heads and the support group directors work together with the managing partner to run the firm (the combined body is our executive). They, together with the elected chairman of the partnership and two elected partner representatives, develop strategy and look to the future.
How many people do you have in your core team and who are they?
That’s a difficult question because I work with an extended team based in each of our practice and industry sector areas. I have a very small and flexible team, three in L&D while on the KM side I work with our outsourced provider and an extended PSL team within the practice groups.
What are your team’s core responsibilities?
Managing and developing L&D programmes for all our staff and making sure we develop, organise and share our know-how (of all types) effectively. That sounds a bit simplistic but actually covers a lot of ground.
Which boards do you sit on?
I work in a consultancy capacity so I am called on to report to management boards as and when required.
What is the most important lesson your role has taught you?
To embrace change. There is no room for complacency.
Equity partners: 23
Gross fees for 2011-12: £34.6m
Net profit: £5.9m
Average profit per equity partner: £249,000
Bottom of equity: £135,000
Top of equity: £305,000
Technology is certainly offering us all sorts of new ways to collaborate and network. We use webinars, instant messaging, video conferencing and social media quite extensively already, but I think that there are some really exciting new innovations coming our way.
DMS: Autonomy iManage
Other: We use a range of workflow products for our commoditised work. We have deployed Lync for internal communications and online meetings. We have a learning management system (Totara), library management software and are developing a SharePoint portal.