LWBLAR15-LOGOJames Miller, managing partner at RPC, talks to Legal Week Intelligence about what makes the firm a Best Legal Adviser for 2017-18

How do you ensure the legal advice you are giving is commercially relevant? If you don’t understand your client’s business, you’re not going to be able to advise them. The days of just advising on black letter law absent the set of circumstances it fits in are long gone – it’s got to be seen in a commercial context. We champion internally those who are exceptional at this, so we use a lot of internal role models and we try and recruit with that in mind. While obviously people have to have the correct academics, we go into quite a lot of depth and detail about their wider commercial understanding when we’re interviewing. Unless you understand your client’s business, you’re never going to be able to put the advice into context.

In what ways are you innovating to improve client services? We innovate when it gives our clients an advantage. Every business we work with is different, so it is really about demand. For example, we’ve developed an in-house 24/7 cloud-based management information system, which can collect and display a client’s claims history in real time. We’ve also provided a significant online database resource for general counsel, with common issues they face in their roles. And the most recent thing we have introduced is for cyber breaches, which puts in place for clients a technical solution, a PR solution and if they need a legal solution then we’re there to do that; and we’ve got that running in Europe and Asia.

How do you seek to deliver clients value for money? For me and my experience with clients, it’s all about achieving the correct commercial outcome, and value and price does play a very significant part. Sometimes you get a matter that’s worth a relatively small amount in terms of monetary value but it’s very important to that client for other reasons; conversely it might be worth a lot of money but they don’t want to spend a lot of money on it because they can offset the liability somewhere else, so commercially we say have we delivered what they hoped we would achieve. If you’ve got a £10,000 dispute which to rectify will cost £30,000, you have to have that conversation upfront because the worst thing you can do is to surprise clients – if you surprise them you’re in difficulty, so it’s all about communication. It’s all a bit like a marriage: if you communicate openly and regularly then 90% of the problems don’t occur in the first place.

What clients like about the firm: 1. Excellent understanding of insurance market, good relationship with associates and partners. 2. Understanding of our business, responsiveness, commercial. 3. Excellent communication and good quality legal advice. Go above and beyond to help in any way that they can.

RPC’s top scores: 1. Communication and responsiveness (4.7) 2. Quality of legal advice (4.7) 3. Partner-level contact (4.6)

For more information visit: www.rpc.co.uk

The Best Legal Advisers Report will be published in February 2018. For more information email lrosenthal@alm.com or call her on +44 (0) 203 868 7545 .