This article appears in the March issue of our International Corporate Structures Newsletter.
In the early days of LCN Legal we ran a campaign based on family photos, with images provided by our friends at Word of Mouth (who also design this newsletter).
We chose a family theme for two reasons. One is that the members of a corporate group are like members of a family. Although they have common ties, they also have distinct interests which must be respected, and this needs to be reflected in the way that the relationships between them are managed. This is usually the first issue that we look at, whenever we’re considering any proposed Intercompany Agreement or group structure. If it does not make commercial sense for each member of the group, then something probably needs to change.
The other reason was more personal, and goes to the heart of why we set up LCN Legal in the first place. If you’re familiar with the work of entrepreneurship guru Michael Gerber, you’ll know his saying that “Every business is a family business.” Meaning that every business depends on the personal contributions of its members of staff. And those members of staff, in turn need the support of their families and friends, in order to contribute to the wellbeing of the business and its customers.
I believe that this is true, whatever the size of the organisation concerned. In my experience, it’s particularly true in the corporate and professional world which often requires late nights, frequent travel and demanding deadlines. Maybe you’ve come across the book “Lean In” by Cheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. It’s a very powerful account of what it takes to succeed in a corporate career, especially as a mother. Personally, I found it almost unbearable to read – not because I disagree with anything she said, but because of the sheer determination she needed to fight against a prevailing culture, and all the micro-decisions that seemed to be required on the way.
When we first set up LCN Legal, part of our vision was to create a genuinely family-centred company, without sacrificing the quality of our work or the quality of the clients we serve. That’s still the case as we’ve expanded. We now have the good fortune of a having a team with skills and pedigree which far exceed my own. Each of our core team has children, and each of us wants to be fully involved in family life. It’s not easy to make this vision a reality. But it’s certainly a goal worth working for. This is not about trying to demand superhuman effort from part-time workers. It’s about creating an environment in which everyone is in safe hands.
We don’t pretend to have all the answers, but, for example, we encourage everyone in our team to raise any issues they have. The concept of “everyone in safe hands” also drives our strategy of focusing on a narrow range of areas - notably Intercompany Agreements and international structuring. So not only are we confident we can do a “good job”, but, more importantly, our clients know that our assistance will be grounded in experience of working with a number of clients with similar circumstances.