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Withers – igniting the annual partners meeting

Withers is an international law firm headquartered in London, with offices in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Caribbean. Since 1896 it has been trusted advisors to successful people and businesses with complex legal needs, in good times and bad. The firm has 180 partners, over 500 lawyers and more than 1,300 staff across its 18 offices.

In 2021, Withers, like many law firms, moved its annual partners conference online. When it wanted to hear how the Covid pandemic is affecting its clients and how that might change the relationship clients have with their advisors, it turned to Meridian West and its best-in-class research team.

The brief given to Meridian West was to design a one-off client listening programme that answered four business critical questions:

  • What impact has COVID-19 had on them and their business?
  • What are their short and long-term priorities?
  • What are their expectations and preferences of professional advisors generally?
  • How can Withers continue to support them going forward?

The Withers partner conference was scheduled for eight weeks ahead of the brief being confirmed, with all conference materials required in just six weeks.

“It was,” admits Meridian West’s Ben Kent, “a tight and unmoveable deadline.”

Meridian West, who has worked with Withers previously on more traditional client listening programmes, steered Withers towards an online survey rather than in-depth interviews.

Working collaboratively with Withers’ CEO Margaret Robertson and International Marketing and Business Development Director Nigel Sprunt, the Meridian West team developed the questionnaire framework and approach.

The survey questionnaire accompanied by a personal note from Margaret Robertson and achieved a 35% response rate and high levels of feedback.

“Having the firm’s senior management team driving this project was critical to its rapid turnaround and success,” says Ben.

Dashboard reporting

The results were collated and presented back to the Withers management team via the exclusive Meridian West dashboard, with the results collated into a slide deck for presentation to the firm’s global partnership.

It was a survey designed to encourage discussion and debate, with the Meridian West Dashboard showing segmentation of data by jurisdiction, corporate and private clients.

“It was a client listening project designed to engage and ignite the firm’s global partnership conference, and it did just that,” says Ben.

The research showed that nearly all (98%) rate Withers quality as ‘outstanding’ or ‘very good’.  However, clients’ needs are changing – they expect faster speed of response, greater transparency and are embracing technology.  The research gave Withers detailed insight into how they can continue to evolve their service delivery model.

Nigel Sprunt, International Marketing Director at Withers said: “I have worked with Ben and his team at Meridian West for a number of years and have always been impressed by their understanding of the High Net Worth market. Their extensive research and commercial insights have been instrumental in helping Withers correctly position itself both domestically and internationally. Their ability to turn quality work round fast is also greatly appreciated.

“The clarity of Meridian’s findings and presentation enabled us to quickly communicate to the partners our strengths and areas for improvement. This in turn was instrumental in shaping our future strategy with regards to client engagement, especially via the use of enhanced technology.”

Meridian West top tips

  • Think creatively when approaching partnership conferences or retreats – and even more so if delivered virtually.
  • Work in collaboration to management teams to ensure timely delivery.
  • Do not over-engineer a project – keep it simple.
  • Use interactive delivery and reporting tools.
Matt Baldwin
Matt Baldwin
Co-founder – Coast Communications

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