Most professional firms talk about being focused on their clients but do not adequately reflect their clients’ needs in their internal organisational structure. Too many firms still operate in siloes defined by pockets of technical expertise despite repeated efforts to break down internal barriers to collaboration. Although many professional firms talk about a ‘one firm’ approach to working with their clients, the firm’s organisational design often limits the effectiveness of this ‘one firm’ approach in practice.
“93% of law firms have made changes to their firm’s organisational structure within the last five years.”
Clients don’t conceptualise their interactions with professional firms in siloes. Meridian West’s conversations with buyers of professional services repeatedly reveal that clients want to work with teams of professionals that are well-coordinated and collaborative. They don’t care if this team spans multiple disciplines (for example, employment law, tax advice and corporate law) in different offices with multiple P&L reporting and different levels of accountability, as long as the experience is seamless and the outcome meets their objectives.
In a quickly changing market, professional firms therefore need an agile organisational design that fosters and facilitates strategic thinking, timely implementation decision-making and cross-firm collaboration. With this in mind, many firms have made fundamental changes in recent years to become more streamlined, client-focused and collaborative. Recent research reveals that 93% of law firms have made changes to their firm’s organisational structure within the last five years, and 43% of these firms describe the changes they have made as significant.
Typically the most effective professional firm organisational structures have clarity of roles and responsibilities. It is also important that a firm’s management structure and organisational design reflects the way it wants to interact with its clients. A good design must work in practice, not just in theory: when thinking about organisational design, culture and behaviour is as important as getting the reporting lines on the organogram correct.
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