The legal services sector is, of course, a changing landscape, under more commercial pressure than ever before, and more competitive, with the advent of alternative business structures, virtual firms, contract lawyers, outsourcing etc. Law firms in a traditional model are having to keep up. A manifestation of this is the increasing prevalence of expert leadership, business support and strategic management structures in law firms.
Strategic management is required in a variety of specific situations, such as consolidation of law firms, and the merging of two different cultures. Many firms are trying to enter emerging world markets and increasing their focus on international offices. More generally and closer to home, however, focussing on process-efficiencies and system innovation is key to enable fee-earners to work smarter and thereby produce a competitive, cost-efficient service.
We are talking CEO's, COO's, Deputy CEO / COO, Financial Directors, Heads of Business Development, HR Directors, Directors of Legal Resourcing, Compliance Officers for Financial Administration etc. Depending on the role, these people set the tone for the firm, strategise and implement, turn the administrative wheels, draw up the budgets, the business plans, place the insurances, negotiate with suppliers and outsourcers, run the property, staffing...
Occasionally, roles do come up within law firms for someone to work alongside senior managers in their strategic and operational activities for the firm. Typically, the ideal candidate would have worked in a professional services firm, perhaps even with MBA experience. The brief can be very wide and consequently requires flexibility, the ability to think strategically, excellent analytical skills and a commercial approach. Management skills (both of oneself and of projects) are vital as are communication and interpersonal skills. The work is varied, demanding and can require you to challenge senior decision makers. Being a tenacious self-starter is key.