CEDA member profile: Clayton Utz



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Rob Cutler, Chief Executive Partner, Clayton Utz

What are Clayton Utz’s top priorities for the coming year?

Our two critical overarching priorities are simple: focusing on our clients and our people. Within those two areas of focus in FY18 comes client service; legal project management and cost consciousness; innovation around technology led solutions; fostering an inclusive workplace by investing in training and development; community involvement, health and wellbeing programs; our diversity and inclusion initiatives such as Momentum and our LGBTI program, and our globally recognised Pro Bono practice.

How has the legal sector changed over the last five years? How has it changed over the last 12 months?

In the last five to seven years we've seen new entrants, mergers, the rise in sophistication of in-house legal capability and the emergence of the so-called “New Law” firms. What doesn't change is the fact it's a highly competitive market – for both clients and people talent. To prosper in such a dynamic market, we must proactively engage with our clients as to their evolving legal needs, make sure we have the right service mix, and attract and keep the best people. 

In the last few years, there has also been a lot of industry focus on innovation, which has become a bit of a buzzword. Our approach to innovation is a very simple one: how can we make change that adds value? We have an innovation program led by Director of Innovation, Brad Vann – a former partner and long-term CEDA supporter. He leads a team of Innovation Champions and Explorers, who have spoken at length with a number of our clients to understand what their frustrations are, and then take those insights and think about how we can develop solutions, either through our own efforts or partnering with another provider. We're at an exciting stage of the program and it will be a big focus for us in 2018. 

What have been key accomplishments or changes you’ve had or implemented at your company since starting? 

When I was appointed Chief Executive Partner in 2014, we moved to a shared leadership model with Kate Jordan (Deputy CEP – People and Development), Bruce Cooper (Deputy CEP – Clients and Markets) and Graeme Johnson (CFO/COO) forming the Senior Leadership Team. The team focused on our two most important assets – our clients and people – and developed and implemented targeted initiatives that have, over the last three years, created year on year growth.

How does CEDA help your company understand and meet the challenges and opportunities you or your clients face?

CEDA plays an important role in generating debate and discussion on issues that are critical to Australia's future, and to the industries in which we operate. By bringing together leaders from different industry backgrounds and experiences, CEDA gives us the opportunity to hear different perspectives and insights, which are valuable to us when we consider them in the context of our own business and that of our clients – how changes may impact them for better or worse, and how we can help them navigate those changes.