Dahren Naidoo, managing associate at Addleshaw Goddard LLP’s City of London & Leeds offices: A changed legal market…
It goes without saying that the recent events affecting the legal industry in our region prove, if it wasn't clear already, that law firms are not immune from the prevalent business conditions in which we find ourselves.
At Addleshaw Goddard, we've recognised that, as a business, our profession is no different to any other. We must anticipate client requirements with new initiatives and ways of delivering our services. To challenge our competitors and succeed in our aspirations, we need to embrace the "new world" environment, adapt to it, and capitalise quickly on new opportunities. A failure to do this in the past might have resulted in stagnation, but we recognise that the consequences, in this environment, could be more severe than that.
Pricing our services and the method of delivering them is key. Our clients are constantly challenging us to deliver “more choice, better services, different options and less cost”. We see demand for this within our own region, which is driven by the tight knit corporate community and the entrepreneurial spirit of the businesses we work with.
Assessing the scope of our services is not simply a case of taking an instruction, carrying it out and delivering an invoice at the end of it. We are engaging in conversations with clients about the value of the work, the associated risks, and, dare we say it, whether it requires an army of lawyers to carry it out. Our aim is to align ourselves with our clients' businesses, to truly understand their goals and aspirations so we can ensure we have the real expertise and understanding to help them succeed. In short, it's moving from being a legal adviser, to a trusted business adviser.
To achieve this, we have successfully established sector expertise in areas such as financial services (a key feature of the region's economy, particularly in the building societies sector), private equity (still a valid exit or growth route for our region's businesses) food and drink and retail. We improve our knowledge by offering secondments of key personnel (including partners) to our clients' businesses. This work is supported by our use of alternative pricing mechanisms not solely based on hourly rates; our ability to utilise our in-house team of paralegals who can stand alone or work with lawyers to deliver routine processes; and internal process mapping that ensures our processes are efficient, which enables us to maintain quality standards and achieve a greater degree of consistency.
Whilst it is true that general merger and acquisition activity across the country is relatively quiet we are in no doubt that the "more, better, different and less" attitude will be fundamental to the transactions that do happen in the future and we, and other legal businesses, must be ready to deliver.
Addleshaw Goddard is an international law firm with offices in the UK, Singapore, Dubai and Oman and with a large international network of preferred firms.