Pinsent Masons senior partner Richard Foley talks to The Lawyer ahead of this year’s Business Leadership Summit in association with Propero Partners, which focuses on the law firm of 2025.

Richard Foley Pinsent Masons
Richard Foley

How do you envisage private practice and in-house working to deliver value in 2025?

Ideally by demonstrating a much greater degree of collaboration. Whilst there is much talk, and some excellent examples, of in-house and private practice teams working together “seamlessly” there remain far too many instances where mere lip-service is paid to that. No-one benefits from that.

With luck we will see this widespread long before 2025, but private practice and in-house teams should be identifying those areas where something different is required to improve the product, the output, the price, etc. and they should commit to working together to see how they can innovate to deliver the required improvements.

That takes trust, investment and commitment but delivers significant additional value. That sort of approach is so much more productive than law firms “inventing” things and then trying to flog them or in-house teams going into the market in the hope that by asking a range of firms someone will come up with an answer. If I think of how far the dial has moved in those relationships where this has happened to date – our sole supplier mandates are great examples of this – it’s crazy to think this doesn’t happen more often.

Will every lawyer be agile working/working remotely by 2025?

Without a doubt. As part of that, many will still deliver work from offices/buildings in the course of the “normal working day” as they do now. So I don’t subscribe to the notion that “offices” will disappear.

However, any law firm that is culturally wedded to legal work only being delivered from the office, in office hours, is going to really struggle, if it isn’t already. If you foster an agile environment then work will get done from the best location, by the best person and at the best time. I can’t see any bad in that outcome.

How many of your 2025 equity partners will be lawyers?

Great question! I’ve no idea, but the answer will be most but by no means all. That may not sound much but is a huge shift from the position now. At PM we talk a lot about the future of legal services delivery being determined by the ability to successfully combine process, technology and people to deliver something different and innovative. Whilst I will give you lawyers are also people it is “people” and not “lawyers” that is key in that phrase.

Legal services are presently being delivered by knowledge engineers, data analysts, computer scientists, project managers, etc. in addition to the lawyers. Given that is the position now, and it will only increase, it can’t be that only those qualified in the law hold the equity in your firm with everyone else on some sort of parallel career path. The equity in law firms must be open to all those who devise and deliver legal services.

Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself (in any order).

  • I fell asleep in my first law lecture
  • I broke my leg falling off a bed
  • I once held my breath for 3 minutes

If you had not decided to become a lawyer, what career would you have chosen?

Professional sportsman – but wasn’t good enough at anything.

With agile working becoming the norm, which spot in the world would you most like to work from?

Too difficult to choose so I’d be truly agile and split my time between the Cayman Islands, North Cornwall and the Alps. It’s fair to say I don’t think much work would get done.

Richard will be speaking at this year’s Business Leadership Summit on a panel discussion exploring how private practise and in-house can work better together to deliver value. For more information on the summit, a copy of the agenda, or to enquire about tickets to attend, please contact Kenan Balli on +44(0) 20 7970 4017 or