A group of 24 suited men are seated in the Muttley Dastardly LLP boardroom next to the penthouse office of Muttley Dastardly LLP managing partner, Matt Muttley. There are no women partners at Muttley Dastardly LLP. It is unlikely that there will be in the future. There are no female solicitors at Muttley Dastardly LLP.
Time is money and money is time. There is a hissing sound. A panel in the wall opens. Matt Muttley walks into the boardroom, followed by his PA, Eva Braun. She is dressed, elegantly as ever, in a Thierry Mugler suit and black court shoes.
Below is a transcript of the Partners meeting….
Muttley: Gentlemen, good morning. Turmoil continues in the legal world, to our advantage. The Coalition continues to scythe through perfectly sensible ideas in their ideological quest for small government. The Supreme Court, once ‘under review’ as a quango, appears to be spared. Legal Aid is a shambles and Ken Clarke may well preside over the biggest release of prisoners since The Great Escape.
“Law firms need to be ‘porous, virtual, multi-sourced, adaptable and agile”. – Gentlemen…these words were not spoken by some professorial guru on the make for his next gurubook on how to run law firms. These words were spoken by the Linklaters’ head of strategy and business transformation Rupert Egerton-Smith
I have spoken with Dr Strangelove, our beloved fellow Partner and head of strategy, and I agree with his analysis that these words mean that the big law firms are also concerned that the gravy train of the last decade, the stampeding bull run where even the most mediocre lawyers In The City could bathe in champagne, is coming to an end. Some of the leading law firms are even warning…. more of an apostatic gnashing of teeth than apostolic conversion or Damascene revelation… that there are too many lawyers. We would never suggest such a thing…. the maxim ‘never apologise, never explain’, is always a wise one when it comes to talking to the legal press. The fact that law firms are suffering will not gain much sympathy with the public. We do not give the public any information apart from strategically prepared disinformation and we only give people satisfaction when they pay for it… preferably on account or in advance.
Inevitably, the new sharp MBA suited brigade in the Law Schools are onto the matter…. never let it be said that we at Muttley Dastardly would be critical of law schools et al finding rich new sources of highly paid course design and consultancy work. The Law Society Gazette…I read it so you don’t have to…. reports… that these ‘porous’ law firms… whatever a porous law firm is….will have to develop a whole set of skills apart from law…..and I quote…“Their skill-sets will need to include people skills, coaching, mentoring, leadership, delegation, project management, sound financial acumen, time management – to name but a few, says Jason Maley, director of professional development programmes at BPP Law School: ‘They will also need the ability to think strategically and laterally to take advantage of new regulatory flexibilities and opportunities offered by technology.’
Given that many lawyers, let alone law students, are not known for their mathematical abilities, think that management is done in some back office by *Untouchables* and many have the bedside manner and communication skills of the lead character in “One Foot in the Grave”, this could be a most amusing entertainment to watch. The good news for us is that this will put further pressure on law firms at a time when money is tight because they will have to pay fantastic fees for this latest ‘gurudom’ and it will also cut into their billings time.
Gentlemen…. as you know, we have a very simple strategy at Muttley Dastardly LLP… Partners supervise, associates work, trainees assist and my team does the management. We call it ‘Focus on the Bottom Line’.
Gentlemen…, let me quote another passage from The Law Society Gazette article….which, I hope, will give you comfort for our future….
For those who feel their prospects are poor, training in business development and marketing skills is essential, says Professor Penny Cooper, associate dean of the City Law School: ‘The more clients you win and keep, the better your prospects, while knowing how to market yourself will ensure your prospects remain good.’
Other critical areas are strategy, people management and managing risk, says Colin Davey, director of business development at the College of Law: ‘They are potentially a passport to work elsewhere. Those who have had good incomes during better economic times may need to dig into their own pockets for worthwhile training.’
Is this not wonderful? Students are going to be encouraged to train in additional fields, lawyers are going to be spending time, at great expense, developing their skills, so they can work elsewhere when they get fired…as, ineluctably, will happen if the law firms can’t afford to keep them on. Think about it, Gentlemen… if you were running a serious business, would you want to hire a lawyer to operate in your business division who has half baked skills in business, who can barely count, and whose head is full of ‘guruspeak’? If we want our people to learn about business, we’ll buy Lord SirAlan Sugar’s new book and require them to read it on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
Gentlemen… a pleasure as always. That is all. I know that you have no questions…so all that remains is for me to bring proceedings to a close. Gentlemen… Strength and Profits!
Muttley turns and walks towards the wall. The hidden panel opens with a hiss and Muttley walks back into his office. His PA, Eva Braun, smiles at the Partners, turns and follows Muttley. The hidden wall panel closes with a hiss and The Partners return to supervise their divisions in the light of this latest Intel briefing.
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