From keen observer to satisfied customer
What happens when a business manager without legal expertise is hired to lead a bunch of professionals whose field of expertise is to argue and advocate their opinion? The law firm Ræder suddenly found itself without a general manager and made the unconventional choice of hiring an interim manager. Here the chairman of the board at the time recaptures the proceedings.
Erling Opdal of the law firm Ræder was chairman when the CEO – after 16 years in the role – resigned in late autumn of 2018. Opdal had two months to find a new leader, one who from day one could address the comprehensive reorganization project the firm called "Kulturløftet".
Took his own medicine
As a business lawyer, Opdal had recommended Interimleder AS for his own clients in similar situations before, but now he stood there himself – with unresolved tasks and very little time.
The board had decided to proceed with a managing partner model, but gradually realized that they wouldn't have sufficient time to achieve the overview and control of the business- and change processes they needed in just a few months.
– Since I knew Vegard Rooth (CEO Interimleder) and had recommended Interimleder AS to clients, it seemed appropriate that I too would seek advice from him, Opdal says.
Got candidates the next day
Opdal says that Rooth immediately challenged them on what they needed; an office manager who would leave the proper management tasks to the partners, or a general manager who holds that expertise and would get the space it requires?
– Vegard quickly made it clear that we needed a general manager, and the very next day, he had three candidates lined up for us. We chose to meet two of them immediately. Both the board and the management team were part of this process, and it was interesting to see that all the candidates were desirable to us, but that one of them had a profile that clearly pointed in our direction, says Opdal.
Six months as an interim manager turned into two years
– Thanks to the quick reaction from Interimleder AS and the candidates' suitability, we managed to get one month of overlap before Odd Nymark took over the helm with us. An excellent choice, it turned out, as after the original six-month agreement was over, we extended the contract 4-5 times. We ended up with Odd working with us for two years before the firm switched to a managing partner solution, says Opdal.
Odd Nymark was named interim manager of the year in 2020 for his interim assignment at Ræder.
Nymark has worked with knowledge-based companies his entire working life and has the necessary experience of working with and managing competent professionals. Be it real estate agents or, as in this case, lawyers.
– For over 20 years, I have led various companies as CEO and know that I am good at the job. I am particularly fond of assignments that entail change and was motivated by the idea of being able to demonstrate that I can make a difference and create results, Nymark states.
Experts in argumentation
Like most other industries, the law industry has its characteristics. These are professionals who make a living giving managers and organizations advice on corporate governance, finance, and organization.
– It takes a particular person with sufficient self-esteem to lead such a group. Moreover, the person must have the ability to take the ball and run with it immediately. Miss the ball, and it may prove difficult to gain control later down the line, Opdal says and adds:
– As it turned out, Odd had all these qualities. He had extensive expertise and addressed the processes already in motion and that we were depending on being completed. Throughout Odds's period with us, we have had good reason to be very satisfied. The dialogue with Interimleder AS has also been terrific. Interimleder AS has been on the ball all along and followed us up in a fantastic way.
- One of Norway's leading law firms, with broad business law expertise
- Customer portfolio from SMEs to listed companies
- Ranked in international legal surveys
- 22 partners and a total of approx. 75 employees
Situation and challenge:
- The general manager had resigned, and the firm had three months to get a new one
- Board decided to switch to managing partner model
- In-house processes already in progress that needed to be completed
- In need of a person with confidence and weight to step into a general manager role amongst lawyers
Solution and results:
- A new organization of the business and changed role for the management team
- Handled the administration and switched almost all of this
- Addressed processes that were already in progress and completed them
- Resourcing of the existing IT solutions and outsourcing most of them
- Changed liquidity from drawing on cash credit to sitting with money in the account
- After two years with an interim manager, the firm now continues with a managing partner model