Clients want us to globalise, innovate and diversify our offering – David Tait

Law firms must be ready to adapt and react to change in order to thrive, says David Tait

David Tait is Managing Partner of Clyde & Co Scotland.

In today’s increasingly complex, fast-moving and interconnected world, the risks organisations face and their legal needs are rapidly developing. From globalisation and the accelerated growth of technology to risk associated with climate change, the way organisations operate is changing and so too is the relationship they want with their legal advisors.

Our clients are no exception. Over the past ten to 15 years, our insurer clients have become bigger, growing into new business lines and also expanding more internationally as they’ve sought growth in new markets.

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As they have grown they have sought to consolidate their external relationships, often with fewer, bigger suppliers who can support them across borders. If a client has a multi-jurisdictional matter, they need a firm that can advise them appropriately.

Closer to home, in the last decade Scotland has experienced a growth in the financial services insurance sector, so clients increasingly want consolidated advice across both England and Scotland.

Indeed, it was this demand for Scottish expertise that led to Clyde & Co’s merger with Simpson & Marwick in 2015. Not only did this make Clyde & Co a national firm, but one that was part of a fully integrated, international network.

Flexibility in how, as well as where, we deliver work is also something our clients are looking for. This has led law firms to invest in technology to improve the efficiency of delivery as well as offer clients new services and models.

Linked to this, law firms have moved towards more agile working methods to reflect the way the workplace and workforce is changing. People increasingly need to work in different ways for a variety of reasons, both professional and personal and it is critical that law firms adapt and benefit from this shift.

This year, Clyde & Co’s Edinburgh office became one of the first in the network to move towards agile working with a full refurbishment creating a more productive environment for staff.

New, collaborative meeting spaces have been introduced alongside hot desks allowing staff from our global network to visit, building connections across regions to encourage a more seamless and connected offering for our international clients.

Another noticeable and positive shift in expectations from clients has been around diversity and inclusion, no doubt prompted by the introduction of statutory gender pay gap reporting in the UK alongside ever increasing social pressure to speed up the pace of change.

Clients are now not just supportive of diversity but they actively demand it, putting pressure on service providers to improve, diversify and reflect broader society. These demands are only going to growalongside the reputational risk of not acting.

The legal profession continues to suffer from a perception of being a male-dominated one and in many cases, especially at a senior level, this is still the case. In response to this, at the beginning of 2019 Clyde & Co launched the balanced brand initiative.

This innovative programme aimed to equip female lawyers and senior staff with the skills and tools needed to successfully build their profiles in today’s fast moving, digitally-enabled world. Through the initiative, Clyde & Co aims to present a more gender-balanced brand to clients and the wider market.

As the relationship between client and service provider evolves, law firms are under increasing pressure from clients to globalise, innovate and diversify their offering. With the rate of change showing no signs of slowing down, it is crucial that law firms are able to react and adapt in order to thrive.

David Tait is Managing Partner of Clyde & Co Scotland.