Tim Gerrard joined Quadrant Chambers as chief executive in 2009 from Jersey-based trust manager Hawksford International, where he was chief operating officer. Early on in his career he was in the administrative branch of the Royal Air Force, where he attained the rank of Wing Commander.
What are the key elements of your role?
I work closely with the management committee on governance matters and am also closely involved with our senior clerk, Gary Ventura, in marketing both members and the chambers to clients. In essence, my role is to work with our head of chambers and the strategy group to deliver against our strategic direction. The point being that it is not simply a case of just knowing the direction of travel, but how you’re going to marshal all the people in the organisation to come with you. In barristers’ chambers this is no mean feat, so the job requires as much an internal focus as external.
How has your role changed during your time here?
The most significant change has been the development of our route to markets groups [groups of barristers focused on specific sectors; for example, shipping, aviation, energy, commodities] to realign the business around our chosen sectors rather than thinking of practice
areas first. The idea is to galvanise and shape members’ activity around these sector groups to make the most of our commercial value add-on for our clients’ benefit as well as our own. We have rolled out a number of internal programmes in relation to this, for members and staff, that have taken significant effort and time to implement. It has also changed the way we hire people, in terms of looking for sector specialists. And, of course, it changes the shape of our marketing.
What impact are the structural changes to the UK legal market having on your role?
The pace of change as it relates to the provision of legal services is currently a big theme for the business. As a specialist commercial set, we are very conscious of this and are watching all developments closely. However, structural change is only part of the puzzle. The real key in my view is to respond to changing client behaviours and expectations – the point being that we could all implement new business structures and processes, but without the client service it wouldn’t get us very far.
What’s on your to-do list?
Right now I am very focused on our financial year-end and the budget and business plan for the next financial year. Additionally, some of our route to market groups are still very new and, with others, I need to devote significant time to supporting them.
What was the most pressing item you faced last year?
We have been investing in our clerks room, aiming to build on the service that the current members of that team deliver and to add some further specialist sector-orientated skills. This is time-consuming and requires a great deal of thought if you want to make sure that you get absolutely the right fit – not just in terms of expertise, but culture and team fit too.
Who would you most like to get stuck in a lift with?
Billy Connolly, he always makes me laugh.
What problem would you most like technology to solve?
My inability to make technology work for me – can anyone you know programme their central heating clock?
If you weren’t doing this, what else would you like to be doing?
I really enjoy working. It’s part of my very being and I can’t imagine ever retiring. I love working at chambers and I also have some other non-executive interest that I really enjoy (all agreed with chambers of course). For example, I have just been appointed as the non-executive chairman of the remuneration committee of Buro Happold, an engineering consultancy.
What’s the favourite part of your day?
It has to be the morning, when I am really at my best.
Turnover (2012): £26.05m
Turnover (2011): £24.9m
“The commercial disciplines and procedures that I have been able
to bring to chambers from my previous experiences have, I think, been very helpful, particularly
in the light of some of the internal programmes that we have launched for both barristers and staff and our customer relationship management programme,” Gerrard reflects. “[The most important lesson my role has taught me] is the importance of good commercial discipline and process and the need to develop an understanding of how a membership organisation, such as a chambers, really works.”
“We currently use the CRM system embedded within the Inquisita practice management application.”