Interview: Sam Marchant, Director of Global BD, Watson Farley & Williams

May 11, 2020

For a few weeks we have all been facing a difficult challenge – dealing with Covid-19. In the meantime, companies, employees and the general public have learned how to deal with the unusual situation and its effects.

But what decisions have law firms made in the meantime and what strategies are they pursuing for the future? How do you plan in the medium term? How will the market change? And could one even draw any possible positive conclusion from the crisis?

Our network deals with these and other questions. Dirk Lohberg, Associate Director at Carter Murray in Germany, has conducted a series of brief interviews with professional services experts and executives that will be published periodically over the coming weeks. These give you an insight into the extent to which companies are dealing with the current situation and show what challenges we could still face.

We start our interview series with Sam Marchant, Director of Global BD at Watson Farley & Williams.

How has your company been working from the home office since the outbreak of the crisis? How long has your team been working from home and have you noticed a change in output since then?

WFW already had the necessary infrastructure and guidelines for regular working from home before the crisis hit, and the global BD team was familiar with it. So when the crisis hit, it was a relatively smooth transition to working from home.

Our colleagues in Hong Kong and Singapore were already impacted, while colleagues in other parts of the world were only occasionally working from home based on our guidelines. Like many other organizations, we initially split our team so that individual employees could either work from home or in the office. After closely monitoring various global measures, we then switched to working from home completely.

The BD team has been incredibly busy since the onset of the crisis and we have even seen increased output.

How is your team performing under the current circumstances? Are you shifting your marketing or BD focus in a specific direction?

I am very impressed by our team, our resilience and collegiality. Everyone is working very well together in these challenging circumstances and we have adapted well. Some colleagues live alone, others have young families and some live in shared apartments or houses. Each individual faces their own challenge. In order to support each other in the best possible way, we remain flexible in our corporate policy, organize regular team meetings and hold virtual team quizzes or virtual drinks together after work.

In general, our strategic BD and marketing focus remains the same, but of course potential changes in implementation are being considered. There is an increased need for digital content that needs to be tailored to our customers, their industries and current challenges.

Have you had to make personnel changes within your team? Are you still hiring new employees in your team?

We’ve made similar changes to many other organizations within Professional Services and have realigned some positions within the team. We are still considering new candidates for key positions, but currently anticipate a longer hiring process.

Have you moved to webinars with event cancellations? How high is the need here?

The use of webinars and any kind of digital technology is currently essential and another way to interact with our customers and contacts. Like many other companies, we are seeing a significant increase in online activity.