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Insights and Analysis from Edge International, the Leading Global Consultancy t
o the Legal Profession

September 2011  

Edge International Adds to its Global Capability

Edge adds consultants in India through an alliance and in the U.S. with a new partner.


We are pleased to announce the creation of an alliance with Legal League Consulting, the oldest and most respected consulting firm in India devoted to law firms and corporate legal departments. Bithika Anand is the Founder and CEO of Legal League and has become an Of Counsel to Edge International. She has almost 25 years of experience in the professional services domain, being associated with some of the leading brands in the industry.  A chartered accountant, Bithika holds a postgraduate diploma in Management of Legal Practice from England's Nottingham Trent University.  She has almost 25 years of experience working with Indian law firms.  Joining Bithika in the alliance will be Legal Leagues seven staff members in its Delhi and Mumbai offices.  To contact Bithika, email: bithika@edge-international.com.


We are also pleased to welcome David Cruickshank as a Partner in the US.  David is a resident of New York City and San Diego splitting his time in serving clients on both coasts. He advises clients on leadership and professional development issues including time management, LPM and business development.  A former law professor, David holds a master's degree in law from Harvard Law School. He worked as the Director of Professional Development for the law firm of Paul Weiss in New York and has been a top trainer and consultant since 1990.  To contact David, email: David@edge-international.com




Managing Outliers

The handling of Outliers, both the stars and the under performers, is a defining feature of a law firm.


By Nick Jarrett-Kerr


I have recently been commissioned by the Ark Group to write a special report about the management of underproductive and under performing partners. When I was first invited to undertake this work, I wondered what could be said to fill some 40,000 words. But as my research has proceeded, I have found the subject both fascinating and informative. My conclusion is that how a firm handles and manages its Outliers - both its stars and high performers at one end of the bell curve, and underperformers at the other end of the performance spectrum - becomes a key feature that helps to define firms both in terms of sound management practices and in terms of a culture of discipline (or anarchy).


We all know instances of star partners being treated as prima donna characters for whom special rules are applied and kid gloves donned to avoid the risk of defection. At the same time, we also know of serial under performers being allowed to continue in partnership through continued reluctance to confront difficulties. There are also extreme examples of partners in difficulties being summarily ejected without much opportunity to rehabilitate.


We also know - almost without being told - that in the ideal firm, partners would be treated even-handedly, supported caringly, and managed rigorously (but not ruthlessly). My report seeks to get the bottom of how to achieve these worthy ends. One fascinating area is how firms set performance standards and then monitor and measure performance indicators. My research so far shows that although financial performance still heads the list of areas where partners are expected to contribute, business development and client relationship management are also considered critically important followed by team and people management.


As an aside, part of my research has been to invite a small number of carefully chosen firms to participate in a survey aimed at establishing best practice in this area. I have so far invited a restricted list of firms (globally) whom I know personally to be well managed, caring and thoughtful. The questions in the survey are designed to make firms think deeply about how they handle these matters. If you would be prepared to complete the survey, please email me. I will in due course be compiling a detailed analysis of the results of the survey and circulating it to those firms that participate in it.

Contact the Author, Nick Jarrett-Kerr.




Lessons for Legal Leaders from Steve Jobs and Apple

There are some valuable lessons for all legal leaders in the way he and Apple went about their business.


By Sean Larkan


A great deal has been and will be written about Steve Jobs, who this week resigned after a remarkable career as CEO of Apple. There are some valuable lessons for all legal leaders in the way he and Apple went about their business.


Clear understanding of the "why." 

In Simon Sinek's "Start with Why" he argues persuasively that highly successful organizations understand that people buy why you do something not what or how you do it. Jobs and Apple clearly understood this; their core essence, their "why," their reason for being is epitomized in their "think different" mantra and how they conduct business. Of course, they also knew what they were about and how to do it, as they built not only a hugely efficient but highly profitable organization. Most organizations, and law firms, are clear about what they do and how they do it; very few are clear about or can articulate their "why."


A magical inter-relationship between cultural attributes, values and brand.  

I recently had occasion to visit Apple stores in Durham USA and a week later those in Perth and Sydney, Australia. It felt like I was entering the same store, so similar was the atmosphere and were the people - colorful and professional - the level of service, friendly and professional and of course the décor, slick and inviting. Better than any other organization, I believe, they understand the importance of a seamless alignment of brand, cultural attributes and values. Most organizations deal with these separately and write them on paper; Apple and Jobs do them and thread them into everything. They have managed to ensure that every touch-point with Apple is seamless. As a result, deep-seated trust has developed amongst loyal customer bases, who have become Apple's most powerful marketing gatekeepers. A particularly important message for global law firms with offices in far-flung places.


Lessons learned - a strong management team and leadership succession.

Apple and Jobs learned a lesson from the first time he left Apple. On that occasion the organization was left in disarray and suffered. Not this time. Jobs has provided for succession. Tim Cook, tough, able and respected, has been groomed for close on a decade and often stood in for the CEO role. Cook has himself been credited with much of Apple's recent successes. In turn, he is supported by a strong, visible management team. Jobs is staying on as Chairman. In this way they have built business media credibility, so much so that this recent news has been greeted in a muted, quietly confident way. As a result the shares have dipped but not plunged. Customers are sad but not panicked.


Dealing with the detail

Jobs has undoubted charisma, has a wonderful track record and has had exciting products to announce; this he does not take for granted - when he launches a new product he works at it like it is the most important presentation he has done in his life. He doesn't "leave it to marketing;" he spends not just hours but days practicing until, when he delivers it, he seems relaxed and laid back. He does this with such determination and so successfully that he has become the ideal that others look up to in relation to presentation technique. Tim Cook has done the same in relation to manufacturing efficiency and supply chain delivery. They seem to leave very little to chance.


Understanding strategy

Jobs and Apple understand strategy; while meticulous in getting the detail and internal efficiencies right, they know that strategy is about setting direction and achieving competitive positioning. Their vision, and a clear, competitive road-map for the future, is in place.


Actually putting the customer first, not just talking about it

Probably the most striking feature of what Jobs and Apple have done is to carry on business in such a way that they deserve trust and loyalty. They have done this by building into their organizational DNA customer service in the truest sense. Anyone who has dealt with their stores to return a product, or shopped online, can attest to this. It is "customer first, ask questions later."


Not only have they done the business and leadership things well, they have built a creative, fun and adventurous place to work where staff and customer loyalty and trust is second to none. Something every legal leader can aspire to.

Contact the author, Sean Larkan.





In This Issue
-Edge adds capability
-Nick Jarrett-Kerr considers the handling of outlier law firm partners
-Steve Larkan points to the lessons learned from Steve Jobs

  Gerry Riskin

Gerry Riskin




 Ed Wesemann

Jordan Furlong 


Pam Woldow

Doug Richardson


John Plank 

 John Plank








New York,

Of Counsel 

Legal League Consulting, LLC  
Dehli and Mumbai,

At The Podium: Upcoming Appearances by Edge Partners    

September 8, 2011:
Bithika Anand speaks at the Legal Knowledge Management Conference in Mumbai, India

September 9-10, 2011: Gerry Riskin speaks at the LAWASIA Conference in Hong Kong

September 17, 2011: Nick Jarrett-Kerr speaks at the Welinkar Institute of Management in Mumbai, India

September 22-23, 2011: Pamela Woldow speaks at the Association of Legal Administrators Large Firm Administrators' Retreat in Chicago, IL

October 5, 2011: Gerry Riskin gives the Keynote at the LawAustrralasia Conference in Freyeinet, Tasmania

October 7, 2011: Nick Jarrett-Kerr gives the Keynote at the Lawnet Annual Conference in Forest of Arden, UK

October 17, 2011: Nick Jarrett-Kerr gives the Keynote at the Strategy at UK200 Group Conference in Liverpool, UK

October 18, 2011: Nick Jarrett-Kerr gives the Keynote at the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers Business Conference in London, UK

October 20, 2011: Pam Woldow speaks at the ACI National Forum on Reducing Legal Costs in Philadelphia

October 22, 2011:  Pamela Woldow speaks at the Association of Legal Administrators Conference in Las Vegas, NV

November 17, 2011: Pamela Woldow speaks on Best Practices in e-Discovery in Pentagon City, VA

November 17, 2011: Nick Jarrett-Kerr gives the Keynote at UK200 Group Annual Conference in Liverpool, UK

Edge Blogs

Jordan Furlong's 


Ed Wesemann's: Creating Dominance

Pam Woldow's At The Intersection

Gerry Riskin's Amazing Firms, Amazing Practices

Nick Jarrett-Kerr's NJK
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