Posted: 10 Jun 2009
Date Written: March 2, 2009
Addleshaw-Goddard (AG), the 15th largest law firm in the U.K., is seeking ways to serve larger clients on more important legal matters. Part of this strategy involves its 'Client Development Centre (CDC),' an innovative idea and set of services launched by Dr. Jim Hever who holds a Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership Development. The mission of the CDC is to improve the capabilities of clients' in-house legal departments, such as by making them better partners with the business units and improving their leadership skills. The CDC has adopted an innovative pricing structure. Rather than charging direct fees for these consulting services, it proposed to the client that it contract with the firm for five times this amount in legal fees that might otherwise have gone to another law firm. It is in this way that AG hopes to increase its position in its larger clients. AG has also developed a very systematic program for identifying and serving its key clients, developed in collaboration with Cranfield School of Management. It is these clients that will be the focus of the efforts for the CDC. In addition, the firm has co-developed a training program with Cranfield to improve the skills of its own partners. The case explores whether these initiatives will lead to a long-term competitive advantage. The firm believes what really will produce competitive advantage is its 'Me-To-You-Mindset' initiative that encourages partners to look at the world through their clients' eyes. At the end of the case Hever is reflecting on a proposal he submitted for providing CDC services to one of the largest U.K. companies. The general counsel wants to pay for these services in cash should he decide to accept the proposal, rather than hiring AG for more legal work. Hever is wondering if this is a good way to take advantage of recent reforms allowing law firms to provide other professional services, like consulting, or if this is 'off-strategy' for the mission of the CDC.
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