New US COO from Eversheds Focuses on ‘Value’ and Connection
Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP
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(Reuters) – Eversheds Sutherland last week became the latest major law firm to add a new C-level operational position in the United States
US chief executive Dwight Floyd said he is looking to establish connectivity between the various business departments he will oversee, from HR to technology and information services. The ultimate goal? “It’s all about value,” he said.
The former biologist-turned-lawyer and executive was most recently US price and value manager at the global 3,000-lawyer firm, which emerged from a 2017 merger between London-based Eversheds and Sutherland Asbill & Brennan, founded in Atlanta. Eversheds Sutherland now has eight out of 74 US offices around the world.
Atlanta-based Floyd spoke to Reuters about how best to harness the knowledge and power of the mega-company.
This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.
REUTERS: How do you think your background, which included project management and legal knowledge positions at other companies before Eversheds, will help you as a COO? And do you expect others with similar backgrounds to continue in COO positions at a law firm?
FLOYD: I’m definitely not your traditional COO of a law firm or a large corporation. I was a biologist before I was a lawyer, I was a litigator for years. What I did as a litigator was that I was always attentive to technology and technological issues. Probably, partly because of my scientific background, I have always been interested in looking at the problems through these different lenses and across the company and trying to solve, not only the problem that was right in front of us, but sometimes the bigger problem that it was part of.
To respond to your [second] question, I think there is a demand for this, because as businesses have evolved, customers have increased their expectations of businesses to address these types of multi-level, multi-faceted, and multi-year. And I’m not just talking about solving legal issues in front of them. I mean help them with their business, which is not a one-time solution, as they [already] expected that from their law firms. Law firms need to react to this and have a much bigger picture of how to do it. And that includes leveraging the resources at our disposal, the experts we have among our professionals, in each of their distinct fields to bring together all that knowledge, information, data, answers, to put them to good use for our partners, and ultimately , our clients.
REUTERS: What else are you paying attention to in the evolution of the relationship between law firms and their clients?
FLOYD: It’s all about value. Value is not just what something costs. It’s what you get for what you pay for. So [there’s] demand for increased value from clients, whether it is to make their law firm more efficient, or to do more with less, or to have different prices for different types of solutions, or to have strategies to longer term consistency for particular types of problem businesses. These are all things that are not just reactive from a law firm. It’s not just that a client comes to the law firm and says, “Can you fix this? And the law firm says, “Yeah, I’ll do it for X dollars an hour” and then they try to figure it out. It is much more complete than that. And law firms have had to adapt to that.
REUTERS: Is there something at Eversheds that you could focus on to leverage new technology to bring that efficiency or collaboration?
FLOYD: We’re thinking about what we call “the law firm of the future”, or where we’re going to be in three years, five years, 10 years. We need to improve internal communication and collaboration.
We need to make better use of our space. With the pandemic, there have been all kinds of questions in all markets about how the industry is going to use space in the future. And this is also true within a law firm. And it’s one of our biggest expenses, our space, our physical footprint.
And then, of course, it’s just the data itself that now permeates every facet of the law firm, and really any business. With the data that is there, [there are questions of] how we can leverage the data of the past, how we can better manage the data of the present and the future, again, to bring good answers and effective answers to our customers.