The endurance of the partnership model as the structure of choice for professional practices is frequently credited to the idea that partnerships engender and promote a collegiate and collaborative culture, with all partners acting as owners who are responsible for driving the success of the firm. On the flip side, partnerships are often criticised for being slow to implement change (changes forced by a global pandemic notwithstanding!) as significant decisions regarding a firm’s strategy, structure, partner remuneration model, governance and constitution frequently require the support of a critical mass of partners; not only to satisfy constitutional approval requirements, but also because unless there is broad partner support for any proposed changes, attempts to push through such decisions (even if it is ultimately unsuccessful) can cause partner disaffection and have a destabilising effect on the firm. As a result, ‘difficult’ (but often necessary) proposals are sometimes diluted or kicked down the road by management.
In this discussion, our panel of partnership law and strategy /management experts, Robert Millard (Founder, Cambridge Strategy Group Limited), Zulon Begum (Partner, CM Murray LLP) and Session Chair, Sarah Chilton (Partner, CM Murray LLP), are joined by Peter Duff, the Chairman of Shoosmiths LLP, a firm that has recently implemented significant changes to its partnership and constitution. The panel share their commercial, legal and practical advice and experience on managing and implementing changes in strategy, remuneration and governance in professional practices, addressing issues such as:
- What motivates change in professional services partnerships? Does there always need to be a “burning platform”?
- What are the practical challenges of leading a firm through transformational change and how can these be navigated?
- What are the common issues and gaps in constitutional documents that may require change?
- How to secure and sustain partner buy-in and approval, and avoid unlawful discrimination.
- How to manage dissenting partners.
For more information on the topics covered in this recording, please contact Partner Zulon Begum, who specialises in partnership law and focuses on advising professional services firms on structuring, governance, LLP/partnership agreements, mergers and acquisitions and partner exits, team moves and restrictive covenants, and Partner Sarah Chilton, who specialises in advising employers and senior executives, partners, partnerships, LLP members and LLPs on a wide range of issues, including: termination provisions and senior partner exits, protection of confidential information, remuneration structures and issues arising in relation to deferred remuneration and incentive plans, business reorganisation and redundancy, conduct and performance issues, whistleblowing and discrimination.