OUR ARTICLES GIVE AN INSIGHT FROM A UNIQUE AND PERSONAL PERSPECTIVE FROM LEADING NAMES IN PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
Conclusions – Chapter 9
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters, here is the final Chapter. “From the vision you started with was it successful?” This was our final question to participants in the survey, and we heard cautionary tales about merging and a lot of doubt about the success however compelling the original strategic argument, if there was one. Those that remained true to their criteria for merging saw success. Those that looked at the merger as an opportunity to adopt and re-evaluate how to change so there was improvement for both firms, and who saw it as wholesale transformation saw the greatest success. Sadly, many said it had not fulfilled expectations
Hindsight – Chapter 8
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters, here is the 8th Chapter. With the gift of hindsight, what was learned in the process? All the firms we spoke to were happy to share the good, the bad the shockingly unexpected and the exhaustion that comes in the merger process, so we have given priority to their thoughts throughout the report. At the start of the research, we wondered if anything different would be raised because so many firms have gone through the merger and acquisition process. Many weighty tomes have been written and we wanted this to be about personal experiences that others can benefit from and certainly distinct themes emerged, and yet we all carry on making the same mistakes. Someone told us very clearly that ego got in the way of what was needed and perhaps we all have that voice in our head that says we can do it better, but do we?
Staff Considerations – Chapter 7
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters, here is Chapter 7. It is inevitable in a merger that there will be job losses, that leads to a tense environment for staff and fear will and does set in. There might be an understandable resistance to change when you feel it will benefit others
and not you. Now is the time to support your staff throughout the process from the buildup, implementation, which can be a long time period and conclusion. Staff need to trust you and not feel that they are excluded or ignored because they are not lawyers. Anything they perceive is hidden, any ambiguity just becomes a fertile ground for gossip and rumour control runs rampant.
Challenges – Chapter 6
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters, here is Chapter 6.There are numerous studies that highlight why mergers fail. The reality is that the number of challenges is pervasive and must be faced throughout the process. Partners and lawyers are front and centre of those challenges. How you secure partner buy-in will come down to how you champion the vision and benefits of the combined firms from the beginning of potential merger talks. Their expectations need careful management and this starts at the
onset of merger talks. Partners must really understand what it is they are signing up for and how that impacts them and how it benefits them. You must work hard to ensure partners buy into the vision and benefits of the new entity or they will not support it
Merger and acquisition activity in professional practices firms – a report by Saffery Champness
We are delighted that Anne was asked to comment alongside David Sparkes of Millbourn Ross on M&A activity in professional services. Jonson Beaumont Core specialises in merger integration and we have completed major research recently enabling us to collaborate with Saffery Champness.
Value to Clients – Chapter 5
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters, here is Chapter 5. One area that stood out in our research was that important client communication issues were not always addressed in the same way or given the same priority as operational issues. Some of course addressed the potential issues well, many others assumed it would be alright. Everyone agreed that excellent client care will help you grow your firm’s business and reputation but there was little real planning.
Planning & Integration – Chapter 4
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters, here is Chapter 4.How you integrate is critical and will have a direct impact on the success or failure of the merger or acquisition. It is easy to lose sight of the objectives and the benefits they should
bring if you do not have a project plan and a project director to help implement the plan. Combining two groups of people, their processes, and systems and their clients are a
daunting task for any management team; but a well thought out and executed integration plan will dramatically increase the odds of success in transitioning two firms into the one
firm envisioned during merger discussions.
Legal Futures article – Law firm mergers “not a time for consensus”
Firms were advised to “not let lawyers get involved in the detail because they will argue about the detail not the principle” and remember that lawyers and other staff “do not like change”. The report Mergers with the benefit of hindsight, by merger integration specialists Jonson Beaumont Core, was based on interviews with over 50 firms, all but one of them with a turnover of between £10m and £150m.
Communication – Chapter 3
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters. Here is Chapter 3. The most common theme in our research was communication, simply because there are so many aspects to consider and relay. If communication is done badly, the negatives are endless with assumed facts which are pure fiction. Once again how you communicate must encompass how you convey your strategy and vision, convey the right message the right way with clear detailed messages that show the business case for the benefits of the merger and how they will be delivered.
Culture – Chapter 2
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters. Here is Chapter 2. How important is culture and is it a barrier to success? Culture is easy to sense and hard to measure. Cultural measures are often dependent on employee surveys and questionnaires and are not always reliable. Culture is a combination of factors that create the work environment, but what does culture mean? Every firm inevitably told me that they have a collegiate culture, but whilst that is nice to say, it is not reality.
Merger or Aquire- Chapter 1
Following 4 months of research, speaking to firms from £10m to £150 turnover with experience of over 50 mergers. Anne Harnetty has condensed the firms experience and hindsight into a number of chapters. Here is Chapter 1. A successful merger should begin with a clear expression of the reasons for doing it. Why should the firm undertake the cost and risk of merging? What is it you are trying to achieve? What will success look like? What are your objectives and will they be met if you merge? You need a purpose and vision to aid success. The vision needs to be better than both legacy firms, with new values and goals for the newly merged business. Merger is not a strategy.
Legal sector, Mergers & Acquisitions – A discussion
This is a recording of a panel discussion hosted by Menzies LLP as a part of their Legal Webinar series, which includes our MD – Anne Harnetty
What gets forgotten when Law Firms merge? Further insights
One area that stood out in our research was that important client communication issues were not addressed in the same way or given the same priority as operational issues. Everyone agreed that excellent client care will help you grow your firm’s business and reputation but there was little real planning.
Support a Managing Partner with a Mentor
Article by Anne Harnetty and Andrew Manning
It is lonely at the top.
As a leader your role can be lonely and stressful and never more so than in the current Covid-19
pandemic when leadership skills have been constantly tested. We all face an uncertain future, firstly
in short-term survival and then in the longer-term. Even the most organised firm could not have
foreseen the need for a strategy for Coronavirus in their 2020 plans. Your staff will be frightened on
many levels as they work from home in isolation probably for the first time.
The challenges of multi-jurisdictional mergers and office set-ups
Jenny Jones for Jonson Beaumont Core.
Expanding your firm internationally is both a great opportunity, and a risk if not planned and executed properly. There are many examples of firms entering new markets and enhancing their reputation internationally, but also cases – perhaps less well-known – where a new office fails to live up to its initial promise despite considerable effort and money.
What Gets Forgotten When Law Firms Merge?
Firms need to remember that people at all levels matter. Of course, there will be a focus on corporate goals and ambitions that the merger will bring but there is seldom a merger of equals and staff in the smaller firm may fear for their jobs, fear that their responsibilities will change and that their career development will stop.
Do Partners Help Or Hinder Mergers?
Ultimately, a merger between law firms will only go head if sufficient Partners from both firms vote for it. The merger will only be successful, and deliver the expected benefits, if sufficient Partners in
the merged firm combine to help deliver these benefits and pro-actively support the achievement of client synergies, business development, operational enhancement, cost savings, and adoption of
new systems and processes.
How to overcome financial integration challenges in a merging law firm
Merger integrations planning is vital because from day one the merged firms should know exactly who and what they are. For any chance of a successful merger, an integrated finance function is vital
and should be a “must have” from the beginning.
Jonson Beaumont Core
Are you thinking of merging? Or perhaps struggling with a recent merger? Integration will give rise to some tough questions, so you must deal with them before day one of the merger. Leadership, decision making processes and identifying “where the buck stops” on both legal and administrative issues are crucial to success.
IT – A key component for a successful merger
Post-merger there are many important components to make the new firm come together as one. Brand, location, a common strategy. But one of the most tangible is the IT systems. It is amazing how just 3 months before the merger Partners likened using the PMS to descend into Dante’s 4th circle of hell. Then post-merger they are willing to man the barricades to defend “their” IT systems.
Beyond COVID 19: What will law firms need in a Finance Director?
See your Finance Director as more than just a number cruncher who has kept the firm in-line regarding expenses and runs so many spreadsheets.
By Paul Browne, Anne Harnetty and Peter Scott.
Can your IT Department be a profit centre?
Maybe it is time to take a leaf out of the Accountancy firms’ book. They have a track record of building up their consultancy arms to produce alternative income streams other than just audit.
Has lockdown highlighted social loafers in your firm?
Anybody who has worked in a team will recognise this phenomenon. They will have seen colleagues pretending to beaver away while taking things easy. They will also have noted how corrosive it can be when even a small minority decides to slack. As one psychologist said: “Social loafing can prove contagious because those putting in a shift start to feel like suckers.”
Are you a resilient Leader?
“One of the criticisms I’ve faced over the years is that I’m not aggressive enough or assertive enough, or maybe somehow, because I’m empathetic, it means I’m weak. I totally rebel against that. I refuse to believe that you cannot be both compassionate and strong.” Jacinda Ardern
Is this the time NEDs can deliver value?
As a leader your role can be lonely and stressful and never more so than in the current Covid-19 pandemic when leadership skills are constantly tested.
Marketing and Business Development are not the Enemy
Marketing and Business Development are quite distinct concepts although they are deeply intertwined. Marketing is not so much a series of initiatives (such as promotion) but rather a business philosophy that puts the client at the centre of everything a firm does. It is a business process and culture that recognises the following above all else.
HR, are you seen as an overhead or an invaluable part of the business?
Can you effectively quantify and demonstrate the benefits of real investment in HR?
We are being asked for more strategic HR Directors as firms continue to gain competitive advantage., where the HR Director really does deliver strategic and commercial advice.
Do you get value from your CFO?
A high performing CFO will help you identify and articulate key performance indicators, will provide high level management information to support and help you drive decision making within the bigger picture of your strategic business plans.
What is innovation?
Every firm we work with has a different idea of innovation but how can you get competitive advantage when ideas are short lived? There is constant pressure to gain competitive advantage but how do firms continually do that when it is a difficult concept to pin down?.
Can a CEO really make a difference? A thought piece
In a recent article in the Lawyer, Bjarne Phillip Tellmann, senior vice president and general counsel of Pearson plc said “In a world where change is the only constant, success will only come to those who can adapt.” So do you have a leader who can help you meet the challenges your firm is facing who thinks like a businessman and less like a lawyer? We have outlined how we believe a Chief Executive can help you make a difference. How you adapt clearly depends on your own individual circumstances and a Chief Executive can help you understand how this applies to you. This is a role that can be structured to meet your needs and your budget be that on a permanent or contract basis.
A Finance Director of the Future
By Anne Harnetty and Peter Scott. What do you look for in a Finance Director – traditionalist or modernist? The market for legal services is changing and the pace of change is accelerating, as the impact of the Legal Services Act and a …