In recent editions I have mentioned that, for a variety of reasons, the Law Management Section committee has been very short on members; I am delighted to report that we now have a full complement.

The response to the advert for new committee members was very encouraging, both in terms of numbers and quality. Deciding among them was a difficult task, but the new committee members are: Barry Davies, Ann Harrison, Meena Kamari, Ian Hopkins, Nadia Biles Davies and Jonathan Beck. My congratulations to the successful candidates, and my thanks to all those who took the time to submit applications.

Paul Bennett, chair of the Small Firms Division, has also been co-opted to our committee. Similarly, as chair of the Section, I have been co-opted to the Small Firms Division committee. This, we hope, will lead to a mutually advantageous working relationship between the two communities.

Annual conference

By the time this edition of Managing for Success is published, the Law Management Section’s Annual Conference – our flagship event of the year – will only be a couple of weeks away. As we did not feel that there was a standout theme for the profession this year, we have decided instead to concentrate on a range of what we believe to be the most important topical issues in the legal marketplace.

Alan Hodgart has agreed to be the conference’s keynote speaker.  Alan is a highly experienced and respected legal consultant, and his session will no doubt be extremely thought provoking. Catherine Dixon, the new chief executive of the Law Society, will deliver the first plenary, followed by David Gilroy, director of Conscious Solutions, who will deal with strategy methods, targets, and successful marketing tactics in the second plenary. The third plenary focuses on managing the firm, a topic continued in the first two breakout sessions. Patricia Wheatley Burt heads the third breakout session, which deals with identifying and maintaining talent. Richard Burcher heads the first afternoon plenary, and will discuss best practice in pricing. The final plenary looks at strategic partner succession, and will be lead by Clare Murray.

The conference is, in my view, one of the highlights of the legal year, and I very much hope to see you at Chancery Lane on Thursday, 21 May 2015.

To whet your appetite, we have featured two of the speakers in this edition of Managing for Success. As part of a special focus in this edition on strategy, Alan Hodgart looks at the importance of strategic planning for SME firms – other articles on this topic cover practical projects and new firm strategy. And David Gilroy writes on how to get client relationship management right in law firms.

Financial benchmarking survey

I am also pleased to report that the Section’s Financial Benchmarking Survey for 2015 has recently been published. The Survey is the most comprehensive survey of a variety of key performance indicators for the small to medium-sized part of the market, and I know that many firms have achieved a significant improvement in their financial performance as a result of having studied the survey. The 2016 survey is now also open for contributions. I would encourage as many of you as possible to complete the questionnaires. They only take around one-and-a-half hours to complete, and are completely confidential. All participants will receive a free copy of the 2016 survey.

By the time I write my next comment, the summer will virtually be over. I wish all our members a thoroughly enjoyable summer and continued success in dealing with their respective challenges.