The Phatshoane Henney Group, approaching its 10-year milestone, was founded in 2005 by Phatshoane Henney Attorneys, the largest law firm in central South Africa, to address a need by medium-sized law firms to be part of something bigger, and so increase their competitiveness and differentiation in their regional markets as well as their ability to serve their clients.
“We modelled the Phatshoane Henney Group on examples of legal associations found internationally, many of them with thousands of professionals spread across many countries. However, we felt the need to establish an association which embraced our South African context and provided uniquely relevant benefits and solutions to firms having to conduct their business in this environment,” remarks Douglas Henney, Phatshoane Henney Group Chair. “It was also important to from the outset hand-pick prominent and leading firms to join the association and contribute to the development of this important initiative.”
Similar to international associations, the Phatshoane Henney Group affords member firms with exclusivity in their respective territories, thereby ensuring that a firm must adhere to high standards at the risk of compromising its continued membership of the Group and its regional exclusivity.
Initially, the Group intent was to harness the inherent economies of scale of a large group and establish central support services for member firms to draw on such as knowledge management, Black Economic Empowerment advice, skills development and bulk-buying power. However, with the growth of the Group, the model evolved to include strategic marketing, practice development, recruitment, new services areas and other support elements and partnerships, ultimately allowing member firms to benefit and draw from a wealth of shared knowledge and infrastructure.
Douglas Henney notes that “the size of the Group has allowed us to establish a truly national footprint of firms with a nearly unmatched directory of services from which firms can draw. This provides a typical medium-sized firm the ability to link with other firms and draw on services available within the Group even though not provided by that firm. Our ultimate goal is to help our member firms improve that which they are already doing well and to serve their clients even better!”
Group firms are required to meet set Group standards in respect of their firm, staff and clients. These standards are quite unique and geared towards not only a 360 degree measurement of a member firm, but also the development of the firm through Group best practices. The Group standards also include specific commitments by firms towards Black Economic Empowerment and transformation of their firms, demonstrating the seriousness of the Group and each firm to also contribute to the transformation of the legal sector.
“Our eventual goal with enhancing individual firm practices through our support services and infrastructure is to position our member firms as the firm of choice for their clients – a choice clients will make with ease where firms are dynamic and innovative and geared towards satisfying their clients,” Douglas Henney says. “This is the reason why the Phatshoane Henney Group is by far the largest association of its kind in South Africa and why each firm is an individual success story in their region. Without an association of this kind, it would be difficult for a medium-sized firm to achieve prominence and develop support services and business practices vital to allowing it to concentrate on the practice of law. The Group affords its members that luxury and ultimately allow firm clients to also experience the benefits of that membership.”