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www.wilkinsonread.co.uk 22 info@wilkinsonread.co.uk

People and Performance

Firms have always focused on the billable hour and fees raised to ensure that their fee earners are

working effectively. However, as the market changes, performance measurement needs to change

and adapt to focus the range of fee earner responsibilities – including business development, client

selection, relationship handling, and debt collection. The focus must shift and more emphasis

should be placed on the front end of the pipeline (i.e. on work coming in). Responsibility for

estimating the value of incoming work must also be given more weight. This goes for all staff, not

just fee earners – everyone in the firm must contribute and should be appraised accordingly.

One factor identified by a number of respondents was the firm’s people. As John Seigal points out,

“it’s all about getting the right people – people with dedication, vision, drive and expertise.” In a

business where knowledge, expertise and service are the key commodities, he is surely right that

securing the right people and ensuring that they operate to specific standards is of crucial

importance.

Successful people management naturally starts with recruitment – having the right people on board.

Firms should be looking to recruit people with commercial skills as well as legal expertise. Lawyers

need to be aware, as most now are, that they have responsibilities to do more than practice the law.

They must also be capable business developers and have a sharp focus on the bottom line.

An essential element of the recruitment strategy also involves the firm’s non-legal staff. As

businesses, law firms need to employ a competent staff of finance, marketing, HR and other

professionals, and these people must be given the authority to carry out their jobs effectively.

Of course, any firm’s most valuable asset is its existing people, and investment in training is

important to maintain and improve standards. Continuing Professional Development involves both

legal and business training and, as Michelle Walsh suggests, can benefit staff at all levels. “It’s not

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