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Oz firms must set themselves apart

Oz firms must set themselves apart

As the Australian legal profession quickly globalises, Australian firms must establish a clear understanding of what market they’re playing in, according to Baker & McKenzie managing partner Chris Freeland.

As the Australian legal profession quickly globalises, Australian firms must establish a clear understanding of what market they’re playing in, according to Baker & McKenzie managing partner Chris Freeland (pictured).

Freeland will address how Australian law firms can navigate the “unprecedented” developments occurring within the Australian legal services market when he speaks at the LexisNexis Practice Management NSW 2012 conference later this month.

According to Freeland, Australian managing partners must be clear on their firm’s value proposition and on which market they want to play in. Differentiating themselves in the Australian market will assist Australian firms in successfully confronting the “fundamental changes” which are occurring domestically and internationally, such as the entry of international law firms into the local market, the growth of in-house counsel and the emergence of new business models surrounding fee arrangements and outsourcing.

“First and foremost, [managers of law firms] must understand the firm’s value proposition and how they can provide a unique offering which is of value to their clients. So being clear on which parts of the market the firm is playing in – firms need to think carefully about that – and, of course, [managers] need to think carefully about how to best support clients and business development activities,” Freeland told Lawyers Weekly.

“There are inevitably steps that firms should be taking given that the market in some areas is more challenging than it was 12 months ago. Making sure the firm is adopting all the right financial hygiene steps, if you like, and making sure the fee-earners are using their time productively. So if they’re not fully utilised, [ensuring] that they’re engaged in valuable sorts of activities such as knowledge management and business development and so on.”

Balance
On Freeland’s agenda for 2012 will be finding a balance between the demands of ensuring the day-to-day running of the firm as well as supporting the firm’s overall strategy and profile in the market.

“So often you could spend 150 per cent of your time reacting to things that come up – to questions or issues that people have – so it’s finding a balance between doing that and at the same time focusing on the strategic issues. For me that’s around clients, our people, our global interaction and our brand and profile in the market,” he said.

Also speaking at the LexisNexis Practice Management conference on 24 May will be Freehills’ Mark Rigotti, NSW Legal Services Commissioner Steve Mark, UGM Consulting principal consultant Dr Margaret Byrne, Hunt & Hunt Lawyers general manager Steve Sampson and Lawrence Atkinson, principal of Lawrence Atkinson Practice Management Services.

Chairing the event will be Holding Redlich managing partner Ian Robertson, with Beaton Research & Consulting’s Mel Chee and Tristan Forrester kicking off the one-day event with their insights into the state of the legal profession in 2012.

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