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Technical expertise and billable hours are common metrics for success in professional services firms. But there’s another key result area that high-performing firms pay close attention to. That is: to what extent do our people and projects embody our firm’s values?

Australian specialist IP firm FB Rice says values are “fundamental to the firm’s long-term growth and success”. The firm recently won three Client Choice Awards – a result it has achieved for two years in a row – so it’s hard to argue with the approach.

“We cannot serve our clients to the level we do without aligned values,” said Brett Lunn, Managing Partner at the firm.

“Our core ‘CHAT’ values underpin everything we do; we choose to Continuously grow, Help others, be Approachable and work as a Team. These values are the bedrock on which I lead the firm.

“Our values also support our commitment to diversity and inclusion, which positively impact our client experience. Our team are aligned with these values which helps generate our work culture, this in turn enables us to deliver a superior service.”

The Client Choice Awards are the only professional services awards globally that are judged by the feedback of clients, rather than industry experts or judging panels. Tens of thousands of client feedback ratings are submitted to Beaton, and the winning firms are those that receive the highest client satisfaction levels among competitors of a similar size and profession.

In the 2023 awards, a record number of more than 270 firms entered for judging and Beaton analysed more than 17,000 pieces of individual client feedback. FB Rice claimed an impressive three gongs in the categories of Best Specialist IP and Related Services Firm, Best CX Firm: Specialist IP & Related Services, and the Most Innovative Specialist IP & Related Services Firm.

Lunn acknowledged the awards, and the professional services market generally, were becoming increasingly competitive each year.

“While we have won these awards consecutively, it doesn’t make it any easier. We operate in a highly competitive market, with most IP firms placed well above average in client service measurements such as the Net Promoter Score,” Lunn said.

“Because the Client Choice Awards are the only client-voted awards it demonstrates authenticity. It’s all very well to say you offer a great client experience, but when your clients are recognising this, there is no better affirmation. “

Working in such a competitive environment, Lunn said it was important for firms to find unique strengths that can help differentiate their service from others. One particular strength of FB Rice, he said, was investing in a diverse workforce that felt empowered and could genuinely connect with clients from a variety of backgrounds.

“We recognise that diversity is one of our key strengths. Because of this, we are continually striving to empower our people by recognising and embracing their differences,” Lunn said. “We were proud to be recognised by the Diversity Council of Australia for our work in this space. 

“Our attorneys are well rounded – not only do they have the necessary technical and legal skills, but they understand the real-world relevance of the advice they provide, and the communication skills to ensure a great client experience. Our attorneys are encouraged to continually grow and achieve industry excellence at every point so that IP strategies are optimised. We invest in our attorneys through providing regular our in-house training, coaching and mentorship programs.”

In a profession that so often focuses on technical expertise, Lunn said it was vital to recognise the “other skills” and attributes that increase performance.

“We will continue our balanced development programmes to ensure our staff have the technical skills, commerciality advice and communication skills to ensure our team are well-rounded. We will focus on nurturing our existing clients by forming deep relationships that are beneficial to both parties.”

FB Rice was named winner of Best Specialist IP and Related Services Firm (>$20m revenue), Best CX Firm: Specialist IP & Related Services, and the Most Innovative Specialist IP & Related Services Firm in the 2023 Client Choice Awards.

These awards are presented in partnership with ICON and the Australian Council of Professions, and with association partner Australasian Legal Practice management Association (ALPMA).

Enter your firm for the 2024 Awards here.