• Keith Wells

About time law firms had a different PEP in mind

Does anybody really think it's still a good idea, to boast about how much money Partners make? (Was it ever, come to think of it?) We don't see how claims of being 'client-led' can be squared with publicising how much you're making out of them. And on the basis of "what gets measured gets done", what do PEP figures say about firms' priorities?

Just as importantly, we suspect that this myopic approach highlights the fact that law firms are badly out of step with the way the wider business world, and society as a whole, are moving.

We're talking to more and more people about what a journalist familiar with our work described as "noble virtues". Ideas like purpose, generosity and courage are now giving modern dimension to core principles like integrity. Leadership is therefore more important, and more complex, than ever - and much more difficult.

Which is why we thought of the other Pep. Being successful in football still comes from the same basics it always has: score more goals than the other team, you'll win; rack up more points than all the other teams, you'll be champions. Teams have to include a goalkeeper. The goals are still the same size, the penalty spot still the same distance away, the pitch is more or less the same as it's always been. Arguably, it's harder to innovate and develop with so many common givens. Which shows that true innovation is more about attitude than reliant on technology.

Let's consider some of Pep's views on what being in charge of a team means.

"People usually think it's the coach's job to take the lead all the time. That's not always the case." How many Managing Partners are elected, and behave, with that insight and generosity and shy confidence?

"The player has to understand he is part of a team with 10 other players. If everyone wants to be a jazz musician, it will be chaos." No talk of 'rainmakers' and 'stars' there.

"I'm not dealing with footballers, I'm dealing with people." Work-life balance, diversity, social concerns - they're all important to individuals in individual ways. Any organisation that fails to recognise that, and tries to force-fit people into an old template, will fail.

And failing, of course, is not something immediately associated with this Pep. "21 trophies in 7 years says it's good".

And there's perhaps the biggest difference, and the biggest shift many law firms still have to take. PEP should be a result, not a driver. Pep is a driver, who gets spectacular results.


The Charisma Index 2019