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This is the law’s fastest interview where the interviewee has to respond in fewer than 140 characters – just like Twitter!

Today’s latest interviewee is Andy Raynor, a non-lawyer who cut his commercial teeth in the world of accountancy.  Having recently left RSM Tenon Group PLC, Andy now offers strategic business development advice.  You can see his website here.

Andy is also an active blogger and really pushes out some interesting content.  You can see his blog here.

It’s time to take to the interview table and see what makes the man tick.

Brian John Spencer: What are you up to right now?

Andy Raynor: A wild (not a typo) variety of things from advising on a transaction to getting the motorbike out to wait for the sunshine….and wait….

BJS: Fancy explaining your career in fewer than 140 characters?

AR Welder/accountant that can sell/sold his business/then led and rebranded the buyer/tripled its size/advising on the truth of this new world

BJS: How have accountants been affected by the real economy and the rise of the digital economy?

AR: Not enough.  Take away electricity and they do what they did a century ago.  The world moved and most accountants don’t have the new address.

BJS: Are accountants keen on technology and the process/practice management software available?

AR: Keen, yes, but only for other people.  Process is most of what we do, embrace it.  The trick is in the whole experience, not just the product.

BJS: We’ve heard from the FT and numerous other commentators that client-advisor relationships are undergoing a fundamental change.  How have accountants adapted to the need for change?

AR: They have realised that clients have options, and they should be reforming the relationship to be based on real value.  Nothing else will do.

BJS: Law firms have been under pressure to move away from the billable hour model, become more commercially aware and to offer value added services.   They’re also coming under pressure from outsourcing and alternative business models.  So it’s all change in the world of law.  Has it been as bad for accountants and other professionals?

AR: Not yet.  Accountancy is mainly B2B, which gives some protection.  It’s temporary, and there is room for innovative new entrants, so look out.

BJS: To your mind, how good a job are accountants and accountancy firms doing with marketing and business development?

AR: OK, but no more…and BD is a polite term and should be banned.  All professions should learn to love the muck and bullets of selling.

BJS: What about branding?

AR: Generally awful.  All businesses must say in ten words or less what they stand for.  Most can’t, so the market says  ‘you’re all the same’.

BJS: I know you’re a member of the PM Forum and that you’ve had dealings with the Managing Partners Forum, but how much experience have you of working with lawyers and law firms – if at all?

AP: Most of my last year, all shapes, sizes, healthy and not, outsourcers and ambitious ABS contenders.  It’s crowded out there and fascinating.

BJS: What’s you’re prognosis for the small to medium sized firm in the UK or US thinking about trying something new?

AR: You’ll regret it if you don’t.  You must think – and analyse everything.  But don’t make it an excuse; this is not the time to do nothing.

BD: Social media for retail and commercial law firms – thoughts?

AR: This is how the world retails, so if you’re not there you don’t sell.  B2B….how many LinkedIn contacts do you get?  Are they all clients?

BJS: What about blogging and creating a digital footprint?

AR: It’s traffic, it’s links, it’s gravity…..and it’s effort and you have to have something to say.  So most avoid it….and you should do it!

BJS: Are you excited to see what the deregulation of the legal industry can do?

AR: If I wasn’t I wouldn’t be breathing.

BJS: Are there any law firms or lawyers who are doing exciting things in your eyes?

AR: I’m still waiting for a firm to stand up and say they want to be the Direct Line of retail law.  Now that would be exciting.

BJS: Do lawyers need to become less autocratic and more outward looking in terms of practice management?  More collaborative, creative and things like that?

AR: All professions need to take their collective heads from their backsides and do anything they need to do to make their businesses successful.

BJS: Words of advice for a law firm thinking of working with someone like yourself?

AR: Pick someone with the experience to tell you in minutes something you may never otherwise learn.  And don’t expect me to be housetrained.

BJS: Finally, what are your immediate goals and aspirations for the next 1 to 2 years??

MD: Apart from the date with Cameron Diaz?  To be non-executive director of the most progressive midrange law firm in the UK, whoever you may be.