The Phatshoane Henney Group: Establishing a new breed of law firm

The complexity of the modern business world and the increasingly sophisticated needs of clients have affected many law firms and their continuing ability to service their clients. Business regulation and rising technology costs impact heavily on the modern firm and the rendering of a quality and cost-effective service to clients. Firms have to spend more on their knowledge resources, information technology infrastructure, compliance management and staff development while clients have become smarter and more cost-sensitive shoppers of legal services with client loyalty dependent on value-for-money and meeting client needs. The result has been - as with many other professions - that small and medium-sized firms struggle to maintain parity and meet the demands of infrastructure, staff and service levels necessary to address client expectations.

To support South African firms to meet such demands and expectations the Phatshoane Henney Group of Associated Law Firms was founded. This association is the only legal association of its kind in South Africa with 41 prominent law firms, 55 offices and over 500 professionals spread across all nine Provinces.

“The Phatshoane Henney Group was born in 2005 from a need by medium-sized law firms across the country to be part of something bigger, and increase their competitiveness and differentiation in their regional markets. Initially the focus was on critical support services such as knowledge management, BEE, skills development and bulk-buying power, but in time the Group model has evolved to include strategic marketing, practice development, recruitment and other support elements and partnerships, which allow member firms to benefit and draw from shared knowledge and infrastructure,” explains Douglas Henney, Group Chair.

To ensure that member firms are empowered to run their practices to best industry standards, the Phatshoane Henney Group has implemented encompassing Group standards and best practices which member firms must comply with in respect of their firm, staff and clients. These standards and practices are unique to the Group and geared towards not only a 360 degree measurement of the firm but its continual development and alignment with industry requirements to ensure that member firms stand out as the law firm of choice for clients in their respective territories.

Central to the Group standards is a strong commitment to client service with standards aimed at fostering a client-orientated philosophy at firms where client satisfaction is the key metric of achievement. Achieving high levels of client satisfaction is strongly dependent on a firm having a motivated and loyal staff contingent. Group standards also support firms in enhancing their work environment, structures and systems to both position themselves as an employer of choice for their staff and empower staff to deliver a value-adding experience to clients.

Integral also to the Group standards are specific BEE standards aimed at driving transformation within each firm. These BEE standards are supported by all members and contribute to the growth in professional black appointments across Group firms as well as ensuring that firms contribute to broad-based development. BEE standards are supported by various Group initiatives such as the Group’s national bursary scheme, Phatshoane Henney Training Academy, Phatshoane Henney Foundation and group enterprise and socio-economic development initiatives.

The Group and the various standards and support services provided to member firms have a singular goal in mind namely to “establish and position our member firms as a new breed of South African law firm – firms that are innovative and forward-thinking, that put their clients first and invest in their staff and transformation” Henney concludes.

March 26, 2015
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