Professional staffing challenges

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Working with a “magic circle” law-firm shows interesting twists on the standard challenges of developing staff and experience (see HR gets dynamics with examples and models). Professional firms need ‘leverage’ – many juniors per partner – so would prefer a wide, flat pyramid. But that is only possible for easily replicated services, and smart clients know they can buy those cheaply … so top firms try to offer high-value services, but those depend critically on small numbers of specialist staff.

The trick these and others professional firms would like to pull off is to “proceduralise” specialist, high-value work so that less-skilled juniors can do it … delivering high fees at low cost. Key to this is codifying and deploying that specialist knowledge, which we know how to do! The impressive thing with this magic-circle firm is how deeply they understand all the many issues in this simple principle, and how sophisticated are the systems and processes they use.

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