Matt Meyer, chief executive at Taylor Vinters
Matt Meyer is CEO of Taylor Vinters, a globally influential next generation law firm with offices in Cambridge, London and Singapore. Taylor Vinters is positioning itself as an elite law firm operating internationally in the areas of technology, investment and private client business.
Matt Meyer leads a team of 220 highly entrepreneurial practitioners and was part of the management team that won the 2011 Managing Partners Forum award for ‘Best Strategic Leadership in a European Professional Services Firm’. A trained executive coach, he also supports lawyers, managing partners and senior in-house lawyers internationally.
1. You have opened in Singapore; what is the extent of Taylor Vinters’ global aspirations and will we see more international offices?Opening in Singapore reflected our clients’ aspirations as much as our own. It was clear that many of our key clients saw their growth in Asia and we wanted to remain relevant to them. Our approach isn’t to open token offices in interesting locations, whether in the UK or abroad. International remains a strong growth area for us and we will be putting a lot of effort into the US market in particular this coming year. We don’t have any plans for new offices at this point. Cambridge, London and Singapore all require further investment and that is my priority.
2. How important is it for a law firm today to have a physical presence in territories targeted by clients rather than relying on partners in network organisations?My view is that clients need trusted relationships in the territories they trade in. In the world we all operate in now, no single organisation can provide all the answers. A physical presence is useful if it helps build those varied relationships. That’s partly a practical consideration and partly about showing commitment to a region. We work on average with about 50 different law firms around the world each year on behalf of our clients. Our model is to do the heavy lifting on finding the right partners, investing in the relationship and coordinating their advice. It’s a huge commitment but has really helped us gain ground in the market. As far as physical presence is concerned we take a regional view. That is why it was so important to show commitment and credibility in the S.E Asia region.
3. Do you think the Cambridge cluster will become increasingly international?The Cambridge Cluster is already incredibly international. We expect to see increasing foreign investment in early stage businesses in Cambridge and that’s why we are working with organisations like Cambridge Capital Group and UKTI on overseas events designed to showcase the Cambridge Connection. We are also seeing more young businesses targeting foreign markets as their primary markets. That is why we have invested so heavily in international and why I ignore our competitors who try to suggest we have lost interest in the Cambridge market. The truth is we have a better grip on what the Cambridge market looks like in the future than most and we are absolutely committed to being fit for purpose.
4. Is Cambridge as an economic entity fulfilling its potential in the global arena?It would be easy to say yes but the truth is that it isn’t. When I see other clusters which have clear focus, brand and government support I can’t help thinking we will lose ground. How we solve the eternal problem of leadership, public and private coordination and investment in Cambridge seems to have fallen off the radar a bit as we all work through the current economic challenges. We need to get it back on the agenda and think global.
5. What could be improved to make Cambridge an even more significant player on the world stage?Confidence and a bit of vision in the private sector. In the public sector we need a ruthless commitment to the long term and a willingness to back winners whatever the short term political cost. Nothing too tricky then!
6. You seem to have shaped the practice as a business in its own right rather than any old professional services firm. What differentiates Taylor Vinters from its contemporaries in local legal circles?You should ask them. I would be interested to hear what they say. Two things stand out for me. Firstly we have a clear vision of what we want to be and absolute commitment to that within our partnership. It’s not without risk and challenge but we all believe it will make us the best we can be. For most businesses that would be a given but in professional services it’s not the norm. I worry that some of our contemporaries lack that clarity and commitment. Secondly we have really great people. I am constantly told by clients that my lawyers are special as advisers and individuals. That’s why we have put personality at the heart of our strategy.
7. How has the firm evolved since you first joined?I joined a very successful and well managed business in 2005 from Eversheds. We have gone from strength to strength since then despite the economy. The greatest changes are the cultural ones. We are more aligned than ever, we have a strong sense of who we are and why we are in business. That all makes for greatly increased confidence. It’s that stuff that will ensure our success more than the new offices.
8. Have companies recognised the value of involving lawyers in key areas of their own growth strategies?If we are talking generally, I think that successful businesses recognise the value of using good individual lawyers more than law firms per se. Lawyers bring some really valuable perspective, experience and networks to their clients. Used in the right way we can have a much bigger impact than simply managing legal processes. One of my partners sits on the board of 30 of his technology clients to help formulate their commercial strategy. That answers the question for me.
9. Since you and Ed Turner fashioned the ambitious growth strategy for the firm have you hit all your targets or are there boxes you still want to tick?Of course we haven’t! There are plenty of boxes left to tick. We are entrepreneurial in character so we are also good at creating new boxes to tick. I am not expecting to sit back and enjoy our success in the near future.
10. What avenue of progress at Taylor Vinters has afforded you the most satisfaction to date?Personally I love the fact that we have taken a different path, taking a strong regional law firm and putting it on the international stage, standing nose to nose with the global law firms. I was in New York this week seeing clients and had one of those moments when I thought “we did this.” Equally I have a team in Singapore who have just won a huge assignment in Hong Kong that will deliver real value to us next financial year. If we hadn’t sat down in Merlin Place in 2009 and decided that we would take a chance in Singapore and continue to invest in international we wouldn’t be celebrating that. For me it’s a validation that we are more than capable of taking ambitious ideas and turning them into jobs and job satisfaction for a great group of people who back our belief. It’s all to play for.