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People power: Building a team to deliver strong sustainable growth

Chambers has achieved a lot in its time since Inflexion bought into the business in 2018, from transitioning to a digital offering to opening its first overseas office in New York. Underpinning the success has been the people powering it, with a talent roadmap ensuring it’s got the right people at the right time.

Lawyers know they’ve made it when they’ve cracked Chambers. The legal rankings business was founded in 1989 and grew to become the sector’s ‘Who’s Who’. Its reputation was firmly underpinned by its thorough research, as it is today, which today is conducted by 200 dedicated research analysts.

As a data-led business, it had lots of potential yet to unlock in March 2018, when Inflexion acquired the business from its Founder. There were new growth areas to explore as it built on its excellent reputation, but success would require the right people.

For businesses to grow sustainably, you need the right people in the right roles at the right time. Getting all of this to align is crucial, which is why Inflexion has a dedicated Talent Director, Cordelia Dolan, to support portfolio companies.

The Chambers Board worked with Cordelia to help support the succession planning and team build. 

We worked with a Former MD from Chambers who had strong knowledge of the business but also enough distance from it to provide context and add value. The talent roadmap was developed, with an HR Director the first hire appointed to help build out the c-suite further and ensure it was aligned with the clear strategy. We then appointed a new CEO, Tim Noble, who has deep research, data and information experience and who was already part of the Inflexion network. Together they worked to bring on a new Chair with experience in information businesses as well as fast-growth companies.

Tim noted, “It’s not often that a CEO helps to appoint a Chair, but Inflexion wanted to ensure it was a good fit. They’re big proponents of investing in management teams. They’ll say we need a certain role and that identification is very valuable and done in collaboration. Recruiting people is difficult but their Talent Director was very helpful in knowing which executive recruiter to work with and even which consultant within that firm to work with in particular.” He adds that Inflexion are involved in the interview process and often help to get a candidate over the line.

Depth and breadth of talent

That Inflexion is strong in talent was a blessing for Chambers since the roadmap was a long one. “In a business that hadn’t evolved much over time, we needed a financial structure to ensure the growth was going correctly, and people to drive the specific agreed areas.” A CFO, Chief Commercial Officer, Chief Product Officer and Chief Strategy Officer were all appointed to align the team with the strategy. “It’s about bringing in the right DNA to help the business grow.”

It has been a real team effort over the last 12 months firming up the medium- and long-term strategy for the business, garnering input from all levels to leverage the Chambers research and data alongside external information to agree a plan. “The whole value acceleration team have added significant value to Chambers as we grow,” Tim enthuses. For example, the Digital team helped Chambers to shift to a digital delivery format to replace its decades-old hardcopy model – a move which proved invaluable when the pandemic catalysed remote working. In the wake of the pandemic Inflexion’s Commercial Strategy team supported a pricing review. . They also worked with the business to develop a subscription price model and explored new products as well as enhancements to existing ones.

People powering progress

 

The main achievement of the business since the new team was established has been Chambers’ growth and investment in technology all supported by Inflexion. Recalls Tim, “There was very little tech when Inflexion acquired the business, and our CTO has worked to great effect with Inflexion’s Digital team.” The progress here has played two parts: firstly it’s enabled the employees to be more efficient and effective. He admits the rankings and editorial were always of utmost importance, but perhaps prioritised to the detriment of a focus on tech and product. Secondly, Chambers have moved to a totally digital offering on a revamped platform. “That’s enabled some excellent opportunity for analytics, which is good for our clients. This has all been accelerated by the pandemic. Having all this digitally meant we could send our offering to people anytime, anywhere.”

 

“We feel we have some excellent organic growth opportunity and a clear strategy, and we will look to very targeted and selective M&A where we feel it may accelerate that strategy and growth,” he says. Indeed in June 2020 Chambers and Partners acquired Top 3 Legal, an emerging online platform that assists businesses in managing their relationships with external lawyers and law firms.

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