04:10, September 18 117 0

2017-09-18 04:10:09
HSBC’s Adcock: Why don’t law firms diversify?

HSBC UK head of professional services Simon Adcock talks to The Lawyer ahead of this year’s Business Leadership Summit in association with Propero Partners, which focuses on the law firm of 2025.

Most definitely. There are some great examples of firms who have established teams and service centres in new locations, both in the UK and overseas – this brings fresh talent in to the industry and makes a valuable economic contribution to the cities concerned.

Clients often take the quality of legal advice as a given when selecting a firm – their decision is made on the strength of relationship, breadth of service proposition, and of course, price.

Having flexibility over how and where client’s projects are resourced is increasingly important- not just to win new clients, but retain existing ones.

I don’t think we will see that degree of consolidation by 2025, however, the competitive landscape will clearly look very different, with fewer, much larger firms.

Technology will unquestionably accelerate merger activity over the next few years, as firms need greater size to invest and achieve economies of scale, and the governance/regulatory environment and cost agendas within corporate clients further reduces the number of legal vendors they can sustain on panels.

There is a great opportunity for traditional law to diversify into related professional fields eg, consulting activities- this has started to occur but not at the rate I had expected.

As a significant lender to the sector, it is often interesting to see the approach some firms take in this area.

I would particularly like to see a much greater engagement from technologists in the creation of the firm’s strategic vision and business plan. It isn’t unusual, as an example, that a firm’s vision and strategy speak of bold ambition, and yet the IT budget is set arbitrarily by reference to last year’s spend, less 5 or 10 per cent.

Given the numerous uncertainties which firms need to navigate, business services functions should be much better represented at Board level, with an increasing involvement of non-Exec advisers.

Thankfully in banking we also don’t measure and refer to the number of “Bankers” and “non-Bankers” amongst our staff populations!

That’s a tough choice – having lived in Asia for a few years, I would probably spend half of the year (winter) in Bali and the summer months in the south of France.

Vitamin D tablets are a poor substitute for the real thing!