April 3, 2019
I set out my legal career in 1986 when I started at the College of Law in Chester.
I was very lucky to work at Beaumont and Son, which is now part of Clyde & Co, in London City, which at the time was a relatively small but high profile firm specialising in the aviation industry. Here, I quickly gained exposure working directly with senior lawyers and their clients, which has certainly influenced how I work today. I would always encourage taking junior members of my team to meetings so that they can experience working with clients first-hand; invaluable moments which you can’t learn from a book or at your desk.
Technology and innovation have improved how we work and deliver services to clients. When I started out, the quickest forms of communication were via couriers, telex and fax; causing geographical limitations to where and how we could work. Now, improved communications, from video conferencing to remote computing, has given law firms like ours the capabilities to have offices across the country and overseas, and to give our staff the flexibility to work in ways to suit their home lives.
Government policies have also changed the professional services landscape. In 1986, law firms were a fraction of the size they are today. At the time, Dickinson Dees had less than 20 partners. Womble Bond Dickinson now has transatlantic capabilities with more than 400 partners across the UK and the US.
Over the years, the legal landscape has become increasingly competitive as increasing ways of sourcing legal services has resulted in more competition. Full service law firms, such as Womble Bond Dickinson, have adapted and evolved particularly in the way we deliver our legal services such as through WBD Accelerate, a package of streamlined services designed to help scale-ups and other fast growing/early stage businesses
Clients’ needs are much more sophisticated now; their focus has shifted to added value for money while also ensuring that, in this very complex world, they receive the right advice from the right people. Adaptation has become key. Since 1986, my biggest clients have all developed and transformed their business models. If you look at the logos on the football strips in the time, how many of those companies are still around? The world is changing rapidly and if you are unable to adapt and aren’t challenging your status quo, you will fall by the wayside.
As an international law firm close to home, we need to constantly innovate close to home to meet our clients’ future needs. At WBD, we have a dedicated Innovation Group, which helps identify opportunities for us to rethink what we do and how we do it, to deliver lasting value. In recent years we have launched WBD Advance, a product designed to bring together all of the key technology and business services alongside traditional legal advice. This year, our team is launching WBD Accelerate, which includes access to a growing number of simple legal documents that can be produced on a self-service basis through an online platform, which is bringing us closer to the businesses that will shape the future of our economy.
The future is looking bright, with legal businesses constantly adapting and, by embracing greater diversity, we are employing a greater range of innovative thoughts and ideas. By challenging yourself and recruiting people better than you, you give your business the best platform from which to grow and prosper.