An interview with David Wright – Senior Practice Manager
28th May 2015
It’s easy for a set of chambers to talk about adding value and providing excellent client service but here at Tanfield Chambers it’s a cornerstone of all that we do. We talked to some of our Practice Management team and asked them to explain their approach.
David Wright is part of the senior practice management team with responsibility for chambers’ Banking & Mortgages, Commercial Disputes, Employment and Professional Negligence practices.
What does ‘added value’ mean to you?
For me, it means going above and beyond the client’s expectations in everything I do. Most importantly, I believe practice managers have three clients on each case – the barrister, solicitor and lay client. Adding value to each case, for all clients, is something practice managers at Tanfield Chambers strive for.
What top three things do clients say mean the most to them in terms of the service we provide?
In the current marketplace, the knowledge of the law is expected – saying you are an expert in a certain area just doesn’t cut it anymore – clients expect more from their legal teams, now.
What sets Tanfield Chambers out from other sets in terms of client service?
I think there are three key areas where we lead the way. First, the responsiveness of practice managers in finding the right solutions for the client. Second the way that we work hard throughout the case to be as approachable as possible – and to make our barristers as accessible and approachable as we can. Finally, our flexible and understanding approach to agreeing fees.
How do we demonstrate added value to our clients?
Added value sits at the heart of client care. It means putting yourself in each client’s shoes and having an understanding of the level of service they expect. Some of the ways we demonstrate this include responding to emails and telephone enquiries quickly and efficiently and maintaining an open line of communication between the legal team. Hosting seminars and in-house training, prompt fee note production and dealing with day-to-day admin issues promptly are also ways practice managers add value.
The bottom line, however, in adding value, is demonstrating genuine empathy and understanding of clients’ needs and going beyond what is expected.
What’s the nicest thing a client has said to you about the value we’ve added?
It’s great when clients tell you you’ve done a good job but it isn’t something we seek. I was pleased, like many of my colleagues, to have been singled out for a mention in Legal 500:
David Wright, is ‘commercially sensible’, and deals with fee issues ‘quickly and sensitively’.
What are the biggest challenges you face in doing an excellent job?
Like any job that involves working with people, the biggest challenge comes from meeting people’s expectations in a rapidly changing market! This makes it more important than ever to have your eye on the ball and keep on top of deadlines, as well as changes in the legal landscape. Whether my client is a solicitor or one of our barristers making sure I am anticipating and adapting to their needs, whilst also keeping up to date with the day-to-day clerking duties can sometimes be a challenge.
A happy and well looked after ship is more likely to provide a better service to its clients. This means making sure members and staff are happy in their working life.
What are your predictions for the future concerning the service barristers and clerks need to provide?
It’s very difficult to predict but in ten years people may be buying legal services from Amazon or Google and the role of an old-fashioned barristers’ clerk may be redundant. In fact, with the rise, and need, for Practice Managers, Business Development Managers, Directors and CEO’s within modern, forward-thinking chambers, many might argue that day has already come.
The Legal Services Act 2007 has opened the market completely. Although we do an increasing amount of Direct Access work there is still a lot of potential for further, commercial developments and new services as the industry changes and grows. Paperless services and green policies will be on the rise as society’s needs change and technology evolves.
Studying Leadership & Management is giving me fresh ideas and inspiration and has helped me to understand and develop in my role, which in turn enables me to understand added value and what is expected from clients.