We have an exclusive chat with Shefali Talukdar about her imminent retirement
You became managing partner 15 years ago so what’s been your highlight?
That’s an almost impossible question to answer as there have been so many! The team has always made the firm what it is and I can’t thank them enough for their support. However, the standout moments are probably successfully steering the company through the credit crunch, seeing revenues & profits climb and sticking to our principles of being honest, open and trustworthy. The legal sector is becoming more and more homogenised so I’m proud that Clough & Willis has never compromised itself and has always put clients at the centre of everything it does. That is reflected in the respect and recognition that we have achieved amongst our peers - both in the legal and wider Greater Manchester business communities.
Lee Marston – current head of the family team - is taking over your role so how will his leadership style differ from yours?
Myself and Lee – along with the wider partnership – have been working closely over the past couple of months to ensure there is a smooth transfer of both leadership duties and client relationships so I don’t think clients or staff will see a huge change. Also, we have always shared a vision of what Clough & Wills should be and that, I’m sure, will remain constant. Whatever leadership style he adopts will work as Lee is a fantastic lawyer and great guy so the firm is in good hands and that’s the most important thing.
Has your retirement prompted any other internal moves or restructuring within the firm?
Not really. Lee will manage the firm’s day-to-day operations, drive its strategic growth and continue to develop its people and working practices. Whilst Chris Macwilliam – partner and head of litigation – will support him on compliance and day-to-day HR matters.
What’s driven you in your career?
On the client side it’s been to provide the best service possible and since becoming managing partner it has been to ensure the firm is a nice place to work. Hopefully I’ve succeeded on both counts.
Will you be involved in the firm post-retirement?
No. I’m a big believer that once you leave then you leave. I know that Lee will do an amazing job steering the Clough & Willis ship and I’m looking forward to watching from afar!
What will you miss most?
The people who I work with will be the biggest wrench of all. Many of my partners, staff, clients and wider business network have become friends as well as colleagues over the past 25 years. Not working with them every day will be tough. However, the time is right and I’m now focussed on the next chapter.
On that note, what’s the plan after you retire?
I was appointed as a deputy district judge back in 2015 and I will continue to sit but the immediate plan is a much needed holiday.
The legal services sector has changed vastly. What are your predictions for the market and for law firms in general?
Obviously legislation and trends will vary depending on specific areas of the law but the core challenge for every single firm regardless of their size or location is to remain agile and to have the foresight to evolve. Those two things are crucial if you want to provide a service that clients demand in a way that meets regulatory needs. Technology will also be a massive driver and I’m sure that we will see new ways of working over the next five to 10 years.
Finally, any words of wisdom for the readers of The Brief who have followed your career and seen Clough & Willis’ continued growth?
I could ramble on but I’ll keep it short and sweet: Always remember that people make firms and are key to their survival and ability to thrive. Not recognising that – and only looking at the bottom line - is the quickest route to failure.