Business development
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Vision 2020 - Matt Rushton November 2012

Vision 2020

November 2012

Name: Matthew Rushton

Current role: MD – JAMS International

Previous experience: Former journalist, published author, entrepreneur and founder of an online brokerage site for mediators, arbitrators and legal counsel.

1.     The pearl: What is the most valuable bit of wisdom you have gained during your career?

The most valuable insight I’ve been offered comes from negotiation theory and plays out in many of our mediations. It’s simply this: if you want to persuade people - if you want them to change their minds - logic, rhetoric and adversarial argument are useless. It’s not about you, and the rightness of what you’re arguing for. It’s all about them: let them talk, let them be the focus of attention, and let them talk themselves round.

2.     What do you consider the biggest frustration, working within Professional Service Firms?

Often the biggest frustration is the partnership structure, which when numbers exceed 20, becomes a very inefficient decision-making vehicle. We’re fortunate in not being lumbered with that at JAMS International. Among our biggest challenges, though, is working with people from professional services firms to transition them from case fighters (litigators) to case settlers.

3.     What is the biggest change in professional marketing in the last 5 years?

It’s hard to overstate the significance of the Internet in marketing. It’s been a devastating decade for print media, with falling advertising sales, the expectation that content should be free, and competition from specialist bloggers. Conventional channels - PR, directories, advertising and promotion - are now much more about social media, blogging, SEO – and these are rapidly-changing fields.

4.     What are your priorities for the next 12 months?

Continue to work with multinational corporations and multinational law firms to leverage JAMS’s market leadership position in the US into the UK and European markets. Resolving cross-border disputes has been the major thrust of our practice since opening; over the next 12 months we will be cementing our position in the UK market.

5.     Any red herrings – marketing ideas and initiatives that are not going to deliver on the hype?

Come what may, the fundamentals of marketing are the fundamentals of human nature, and aren’t going to change. For that reason people are rightly sceptical about social media, however, the 99% of businesses that can’t afford blanket TV, billboard, and print advertising – disruptive marketing – are going to be better off investing in making their services visible when people are searching for them. I think we’re past the point where it was a gimmick, and predict that it is a long-term, inescapable trend.

6.     Any organisations you admire - and why?

As a former journalist, I first ran into DLA Piper when the firm was called Dibb Lupton Broomhead first in Leeds, then Sheffield. Watching that firm’s rise to become a major global player when everyone thought it was impossible, has been an interesting lesson in strategy and good management and shows what can be achieved in a relatively short period of time.

7.     Market achievement that you are most proud of (individual or firm level)?

When, shortly after opening in London we were appointed to handle a major multi-jurisdictional dispute with parallel proceedings in South Africa and the US, involving parties from 6 different countries – which is what we’d opened the office to do, was a very satisfying moment.

8.     Where do you think firms in your sector will be investing most in 2020?

I daren’t speculate. Things are moving very quickly in the legal sector – the impact of the Legal Services Act (2007) has been muted so far, but its implications might yet be profound. That, coupled with the Jackson Report on legal costs, might see major changes in our field, which only the brave or the foolish would dare to predict.

9.     What is going to be the most exciting industry sector in the next 5 years?

Personally I’m excited to be working close to the legal sector: English law is one of our most successful exports; our judiciary is one of the most successful institutions in public life, and being in a place to capitalise on the two, while resolving costly and distracting disputes for businesses, is an exciting place to be.

10.  What global region do you think will fly?

Across many sectors, growth is most obvious in the BRICS economies. How sustainable that growth proves to be will be an interesting question.

11.  What will happen to marketing and BD salaries?

Unfortunately most firms succumb to the temptation to cut marketing and BD budgets as margins are squeezed, when being competitive and increasing market share will only come from greater focus in these areas. That needn’t mean raising salaries, and a more attractive option might be flat salaries, and bigger bonuses dependent upon measurable performance.

12.  And finally …when I am not at work I like to …

Break my fingers playing cricket (most recently August 2012); a round of golf if I’m lucky. Even half an hour with a newspaper feels like a treat when you’ve got two young kids.