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Lawyers look to life-changing future at Wesleyan strategic planning event

Lawyers have been told to rethink their roles and take more responsibility for taking risks by highly-regarded legal strategist Professor Stephen Mayson at an event hosted by Wesleyan, the specialist financial services provider for lawyers and law firms.

Professor Mayson's presentation emphasised the dangers of avoiding decisions on issues including strategy, risk, accountability and governance.

He told the audience: "There are a set of circumstances at the moment that have come together to force law firms to rethink what they are and how they are in business.

"If the changes we have seen over the past 20 years have been quite profound then what we are likely to see over the next 20 years will be life-changing for most lawyers."

He added: "It might be easy to think that the future for lawyers is a difficult one, and there will be some challenges, but I think that if you look at the market as a whole there will be growth and opportunity.

"What firms need is clarity of strategic thinking. Law is a business. Business is about taking risks and risks are ultimately what business people get paid for. That's the reshaping of lawyers' thinking that's necessary for the future."

Professor Mayson is Honorary Professor of Law in the Faculty of Laws at University College London, serves as a non-executive director and strategic advisor to a variety of law firms and regularly speaks and writes on issues affecting the sector.

The event, at Browns Restaurant in Covent Garden, London, also saw a presentation by Wesleyan's Group Sales and Marketing Director Samantha Porter, who shared some of the mutual's in-depth knowledge of the legal profession to provide a glimpse into what the next 10 years and beyond could hold.

She said: "The legal landscape is changing very quickly at the moment, but I think that, once firms have an appropriate strategy in place, which is well understood within the organisation with everyone working towards the same vision, they will have the ability to achieve commercial growth.

"Law firms will increasingly find themselves competing in a more corporate and commercial environment than they are used to and will need to reflect their practices to match this world in order to remain competitive.

"Firms will also need to look at how they recognise and reward their employees and different models - maybe with partnership at their core - will start to emerge."

"We hosted this event because we provide advice to the legal sector, so it's very important that we share our insight widely and also speak with partners and senior managers to understand what issues are important to them."

To that end, Wesleyan asked those at the event a number of questions about the future of the profession and found most to be already strongly in favour of finding new, more commercial ways of working to adapt to the challenges ahead.

Nearly all agreed the traditional partner model of law firms needed updating, with everyone saying it was important for those running a law firm to have experience of running a business as well as practising law. However, two thirds were concerned that too much external investment into a law firm could lead to conflicts of interest.

Wesleyan provides specialist financial advice and services to doctors, dentists, lawyers and teachers.

To hear highlights of what Professor Mayson and Samantha Porter had to say at the event, watch the video HERE. 

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Wesleyan Assurance Society and Wesleyan Bank Ltd are authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd, Wesleyan Unit Trust Managers Ltd, Practice Plan Ltd and DPAS Ltd are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.  Advice about investments, insurance and mortgages is provided by Wesleyan Financial Services Ltd.

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