Transcript - Stuart Popham, Senior Partner, Clifford Chance LLP

Nicholas O’regan, Professor of strategy and innovation talks to Stuart Popham about the current recession and how it’s affected business strategy.

Nicholas: Stuart thank you very much for coming down to Bristol. This Recession, unlike other recessions has had adverse effect on professional services, to the extent they are making redundancies. Did you see these problems on the horizon or were you caught by the events?

Stuart: I think we certainly saw that the markets were cooling down. One of the advantages of being of an international firm is that we can see a global view, and in America it was slowing down.

But did we expect that the precipitant slowing down in Europe that the falling off a cliff, no I don’t think anybody saw that, so we were to some extent prepared, but then ultimately shocked if not surprised.

Nicholas: Do you systematically scan the environment, the external environment?

Stuart: We do, and we do that in two different ways. Firstly we spend a lot of time talking to our clients.

Because we want to be where our clients want us to be. We want to know where were going and what they’re going to want. Infact Nowadays, I think we try not to anticipate what they want but almost predicting. So we listen to them a lot.

We also actually commission surveys, we play out scenarios and sometimes we get that right, sometimes we get it wrong. But we are looking to see what’s happened. And the more so today as a consequence of the recession we’re a bit more cautious.

Nicholas: What do you see as the impact on the current experience on your future strategies?

Stuart: We’ve reviewed our strategy in the light of the last 18 months or so, we’re confident that the strategy we were adopting remains fundamentally the correct way. What I think we’ve noticed is that the centre of economic gravity is moving eastwards, faster.

So what we might have expected to see happen in ten years time has in fact happened over a two or three year period. So we’ll have to focus more on Asia, more on the central and Middle East, and were going to have to that little bit more efficient and more, insuring that we demonstrate to our clients true value for money.

 It’s not that we didn’t before less that suggests otherwise. But I think everybody is more aware of the need to insure that they get good value for what they pay for. And lawyers are no exception.

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