Standards and best practices for member firms of Phatshoane Henney Group
Smith, S. C. M.
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In 2005 the Phatshoane Henney Group of Associated Law Firms (PHG) was established, which was a first for the South African legal fraternity. Today, it is the largest association of independent law firms in South Africa (Phatshoane Henney Attorneys, 2014). Over time, certain limitations within the group structure were identified, the main limitation being the absence of a central group philosophy. Such a philosophy in the context of this study refers to the values of the Group regarding the three core components of a law firm, namely practice management, client service and levels of staff satisfaction. It became evident that standards and best practices – guided by these values and implemented by each group firm – were necessary in order to ensure optimal and consistent levels of practice management, client service and staff satisfaction. Quantitative research was conducted through electronic surveys. The population and sample of this research project were limited to the directors of group firms. The sampling design that was applied was probability sampling, which is representative of the population. A positivistic approach was followed in order to objectively measure the levels of staff satisfaction, client service, and practice management in the Group. From the different surveys conducted it was found that group firms are not sufficiently differentiated from their competitors and staff and clients issues exist that need to be addressed by implementing relevant standards and best practices. This study develops standards and best practices on the basis of various surveys conducted at each group firm. Standards and best practices of this nature are unique in the sense that it is a first of its kind specifically developed for law firms in South Africa. By complying with the group standards and best practices, group firms will be better differentiated from their competitors and become the “firm of choice” in the respective regions.