29 January 2018

Culture and flexibility key drivers of future law firm growth

Having the right firm culture is key to driving growth in an increasingly competitive legal market, according to the new CEO of Sydney-based commercial law firm Bartier Perry.

Riana Steyn said while Bartier Perry was on a growth trajectory it was the firm’s plain speaking and results-focused culture that had attracted her to the role.

“In a rapidly changing and highly competitive market, firms can become easily distracted and take a scattergun approach to strategy,” she said. “Building the right team and culture is too often over-looked. In talking to the people here prior to and since taking on the CEO role, there’s no doubt Bartier Perry’s culture and focus has helped achieve a near 90 per cent tender success rate in the last year. That speaks volumes to me. They know what they are doing and they do it really well” she said.

“When I talk to partners, they have a strong focus on specific practice areas, a deep knowledge of their clients and a clear vision of what areas of opportunity they want to target. And they are achieving what they plan. I’m looking forward to working with the Bartier Perry team in capitalising on these strengths.”

Ms Steyn’s career has seen her hold senior Executive Management roles in South Africa and Australia for PwC, Investec Private Bank and Kemp Strang Lawyers, where most recently she was the firm’s Chief Operating Officer.

The Bartier Perry Board has agreed “without hesitation” to her working flexible hours so as to manage outside commitments when appointing her to the CEO role late last year.

“And while flexible working arrangements must work equally for employer as employee, my view is it’s not where you work or how you work but that quality outcomes are achieved for our clients.”

“For all the talk around flexible working arrangements, actions speak far louder than words” said Ms Steyn. “The firm just celebrated its 75th year but it is forward thinking and acknowledges that at certain stages of their career people will be seeking flexible work arrangements, regardless of age, gender or role,” she said.

“Flexibility often means different things throughout people’s lives. It may be study commitments, it may be family-related, or it could be another goal or interest outside of work that people are pursuing.

Ms Steyn said that in 2018 the firm would continue to focus on specific areas of expertise, which include insurance, property, wills and estates, asset planning and tax, corporate and commercial transactions and advice, workplace law, and commercial disputes, with a spotlight on servicing Government, insurance, business and private clients.

“We pride ourselves on being easy to work with, down to earth and flexible. We will continue to work on building our client knowledge and service so that the best results are achieved for our clients” she said.