Facilitation Case Studies

As part of its annual partnership retreat, a medium size Thames Valley firm wanted to address the issue of business planning and also look at the post-Clementi options facing the firm. In particular it wanted to get partners working together for the long term benefit of the firm rather than focussing on departmental concerns.

We suggested that the basic information about the Legal Services Bill should be disseminated and read before the retreat so that valuable time at the retreat could be devoted to the question of “so what does all this mean to us?”

The partners worked in groups using “what if” scenarios jointly developed by the Sherwood facilitator and the managing partner to address possible competitive situations. There was also a healthy exchange of feedback on the relationship between partners and the senior management of the firm. The aim was to keep the mood positive and creative. This was the fourth time that Sherwood had facilitated a retreat for the firm.

A large London city firm set up a project team of young partners to think about the strategy of the firm. A Sherwood facilitator worked with the team and the managing partner to identify what the purpose of their work should be. It was clarified that their job was not to try and set the direction of the firm, but to explore why at this stage in its development focussing on strategic direction was particularly important and what processes the firm should use to get the most effective input across the partnership. The Sherwood facilitator led the away-day of the project team getting them to identify and address “the biggest and best questions” to which the firm needed answers. From there the group developed options in answer to the key questions and looked at potential benefits and constraints. The Sherwood facilitator continues to provide coaching at a senior level within the firm.

A major international firm asked Sherwood to design and lead two sessions at the pan-European gathering of its pensions lawyers. We designed sessions to help with delegation skills and also led an interactive team session with a business development focus.

We worked with a partner starting up a new practice to facilitate an initial business planning day involving her practice manager, accountant, potential employees and other business advisors. We helped design the agenda, but deliberately kept the format fairly loose in line with the style of practice that the partner wanted to create. The firm continues to flourish – and we happily recommend clients to use them.

A leading London barristers’ chambers was not sure whether to appoint a traditional senior clerk or a chief executive to lead its support function. We worked with a committee of members and involved the existing clerking and administration team to develop an appropriate job and person specification. We led the recruitment and interview process which resulted in a successful appointment.

A barristers’ chambers in the North East asked us to run a chambers meeting as part of a larger consultancy project. The focus was on obtaining BarMark accreditation and more broadly on creating a sense of strategic direction. We also fed back the results of a client survey exercise. We created a different environment and series of activities than would have taken place at a normal mid-week evening meeting allowing members at all levels to make a contribution. The event helped establish effective practice groups within Chambers.