Cooney Lees Morgan

Legal survey results whet the interest of Tauranga law firm

  • Cooney Lees Morgan

    Chris Mayes, practice manager at Cooney Lees Morgan.

Cooney Lees Morgan is a high-profile Tauranga based law firm, eight years shy of its centenary. It has been part of the development of the Bay of Plenty since the population of Tauranga was just 2000.

Today it is one of New Zealand’s top 20 law firms with a number of specialist divisions including commercial, employment, rural and dairy, property and land development, dispute resolution, family law, trusts and asset planning, and public law and resource management. With deference to its location, the firm also has a strong appreciation of matters relating to the region’s kiwifruit industry.

The firm was first established in 1918 when schoolteacher ‘HO’ Cooney opened his first law practice in Te Puke, then 12 years later opened the Tauranga office. Today, three of his grandsons are partners in the family practice.

Practice manager, Chris Mayes says “maybe it’s because we live and work in the beautiful Bay of Plenty, but Cooney Lees Morgan always has had a point of difference – old-fashioned family values of honesty, integrity,and judgement.

“But we’re progressive as well. The way we practise law is to keep things simple for our clients – looking for the practical, cost-effective way of achieving the outcome they want.  And, by always employing the best of the nation’s young legal talent, we maintain the firm’s freshness and vitality.”

Although the firm is not an accountancy client of Markhams, it recently employed the services of Auckland director, Sam Bassett, as a facilitator in his capacity as head of the Markhams Legal Business Development Unit (LBDU).

Sam joined the firm’s 11 partners in their recent annual planning day to offer insight into the most recent survey conducted by the LBDU, in particular significant findings relevant to medium sized firms such as Cooney Lees Morgan.

Chris spotted an article about the key results of the Markhams 2009 Legal Practitioners’ Financial Performance Survey in a legal magazine.  And while the survey results are specific to the Auckland region, Chris says they were interested to learn the relevance of the information in the Waikato / Bay of Plenty market.

“We were very keen to see how and where we would rate against the survey participants and to learn what made these Auckland firms successful. “In particular we were interested in the concepts and methods Auckland firms were using to improve their leverage and how this in turn could increase profitability for our firm. The article piqued our interest and we wanted to explore the topic further,” says Chris.

He added that Sam’s insights and knowledge regarding the success and growth of small to medium-sized law firms proved invaluable to the firm. “The partners were all very much satisfied with the results achieved at the planning day and were very happy with Sam and his approach. He had great insight into our business, offered fresh ideas and has the same values about good client service. “We did learn that a lot of what we do is right on track, and it is great to get that vindication, but there are always areas for improvement and now we are looking towards formulating actions for the future.

“We will be keeping in touch with Sam and are likely to use him as a facilitator in the future,”says Chris.

*Markhams acts for a significant number of legal firms and barristers and can assist small to medium sized legal firms with: advice on firm mergers, partner admissions and retirement; law firm valuations; litigation support; and audit and forensic accounting.

The Legal Practitioners’ Financial Performance Survey has been conducted annually since 2006 to compare practitioner’s Key Performance Indicators. Check out our Legal Practice Survey here.

Published Winter 2010.

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