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Award-winning former law firm Managing Partner

Jonathan Watmough is an award-winning former law firm Managing Partner and principal consultant at HelpingLawyersThrive

I help law firms 
win the war for talent



I am help law firms win the war for talent through leadership, teamwork and culture: 

I help law firms build leaders, leadership cultures and high-performance teams

I help law firms build environments in which lawyers can thrive

Law firms are uniquely complex places in which to drive sustainable high performance.


We tend not to properly understand ourselves or connect all of the dots. We tend instead to be too busy doing what comes naturally to focus on some of the less natural things which are equally important. We struggle to get the best out of ourselves, let alone help get the best out of our colleagues. On most measures of long-term success we will underperform even if we financially compensate in the short term by overachieving. I did this myself to a degree, I’ve watched many others do this and I still watch many others do this. But the cost is high and usually personally unsustainable.


Most of all it prevents us achieving what matters most - winning the war for talent. The game of commercial law over the long term is won by those who are best at attracting, developing, channelling and retaining the talent that matters most in their market. The clients, and other talent, will always follow the talent.

The common thread that runs through all of my experiences is that the fine margins between those that win the war for talent and those that take what's left over, always lies in some combination of the behaviour of the people, the quality of the relationships of those people and the quality of the leadership of those people. This holds true across all industries, cultures and generations, but commercial law firms are the paradigm example. And this will only be emphasised further as artificial intelligence impacts, competition increases and our world changes.

But I’ve observed many individuals, teams and even some entire firms pick their way through this successfully and thrive. In my work, I encapsulate, and help lawyers, leaders of lawyers and law firms to emulate, what I’ve witnessed those people, and the leaders of those people, doing differently.

The surprising truth is it’s not that difficult. No person, team or firm makes a conscious decision not to thrive. Commercial law firms are overwhelmingly populated by nice, normal people doing their best in sometimes trying circumstances, but who can sometimes inadvertently tend to press the wrong buttons for themselves and others. But we’re all here by choice and we can all choose to make better decisions about what we do, who we work with and how we behave. If we make better choices individually, this will translate into us making better choices collectively.


This takes leadership, teamwork and trust in the culture to deliver what the team needs to perform. 

My role is to help law firms win the war for talent through high-performance leadership, teamwork and culture. And sustainable growth is the natural consequence.

I'm here to cut through to what matters and help so do please contact me and let's discuss. I'm very happy to invest some time to get to know each other and see whether we might work well together.


M&A lawyer, managing partner, technologist and author

Jonathan Watmough was born on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales but raised in the Sussex Downs. He has been a lifeguard, gardener, dishwasher, hotel porter, humper in a meat factory, pilot, fruit farmer, decorator, builder's mate and bartender.

He qualified as a Solicitor in The City of London at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain in 1993. Practising in M&A and equity capital markets, he became a partner at thirty, managing partner at thirty-eight and spent the next ten years helping to transform RPC from a London insurance firm into an international, multi-disciplinary professional services business.

The firm delivered five consecutive years of double-digit top and bottom-line organic compound growth when the rest of the market stagnated following the Global Financial Crisis, won Law Firm of the Year three times, won the Managing Partners’ Forum’s strategic leadership award and was named five years running as Best Legal Employer. Jonathan was also twice-named within The Lawyer’s Hot 100 lawyers in the UK.

After ten years as managing partner, he retired from the firm in 2016 to help lawyers and leaders of lawyers cut through to what matters and emulate the simple things successful people do differently in private practice. No theory, no platitudes, just practical common sense guidance on what matters most in the real world of commercial law, why and how to do it to get ahead. And in 2024 he encapsulated this in his book How To Thrive In A Commercial Law Firm.


He has also combined his entrepreneurial streak with his passion for understanding people and relationships and co-founded Quintillion, a technology group that develops cognitive and behavioural analytics. Quintillion’s flagship product, myTeamRadar, uses next-generation human factors visualisation to help reveal, diagnose and resolve hidden performance and wellbeing problems in teams.

"Under managing partner, Jonathan Watmough's leadership, RPC has become one of the most vibrant and best-run firms in the mid-market."

Jonathan Watmough was twice named in The Lawyer's HOT100 lawyers in the UK


"Cultural integrity and a move upmarket sees RPC named Firm of the Year."

Under Jonathan Watmough's leadership RPC won The Lawyer's Law Firm of the Year in 2014


"Praised by judges for its strong financial results, being 'innovative' and for 'really looking after its staff', the firm impressed on a number of levels. But what particularly impressed the judges was not its financial performance but the steps RPC has taken to position its business for the future - and the efforts it is taking to keep its staff happy."

Under Jonathan Watmough's leadership RPC won Legal Week's Law Firm of the Year in 2015


"If you keep your people happy, then your clients will be happy too. Led by a Managing Partner who has no office and the same desk as everyone else who works in this open plan office, RPC achieved outstanding financial results in 2015, and has earned recognition as Best Legal Advisor by Legal Week for the last 5 years. Innovative initiatives to support employeees, a well-developed social-inclusion plan, and an unrelenting focus on understanding the needs of clients, have earned recognition as Best Legal Employer over the same five year period."

Under Jonathan Watmough's leadership RPC won MPF's Strategic Leadership Award in 2016


How To Thrive In A Commercial Law Firm is Jonathan Watmough's 2024 book about people, relationships & leadership in law firms, book cover

For those who want to know how lawyers, leaders and law firms can thrive in a changing world

Whether you're an aspiring associate or a managing partner, how good you are at people, relationships and leadership will determine your personal, professional and business success.

These are skills which are not taught at law school and which many firms preach but few practice.

Jonathan Watmough led an award-winning City law firm for ten years.

He lifts the lid on what makes lawyers and law firms tick.  Why people, relationships and leadership are fundamentally important for lawyers, lawyer careers, law firm success and life.  Why they matter more than ever in a changing world.  And how to master them.

Winning the war for talent through
high-performance leadership & teamwork

The most successful law firms, and businesses in law firms, can only ever be the product of creating and operating long-term systems to develop, retain and attract the top talent in their chosen markets. In our world, this is, arguably, everything.


But we are only able to perform at our best when we are able to overcome the contradictions and paradoxes inherent to most talented commercial lawyers and which blunt our performance and that of our colleagues. It is natural for most of us to tend to focus on client work and the short term, do what is necessary to get client work over the line, do things for ourselves, think like lawyers too much of the time and avoid difficult conversations, especially around performance. But the inadvertent consequences can be lack of focus on important long-term issues, inattention to our own wellbeing and that of our colleagues, inattention to our own personal and career development and that of our colleagues, and inattention to our interpersonal skills and the quality of our relationships.


Some commercial lawyers overcome these contradictions themselves but most do not and it prevents us winning the war for talent.


It is perfectly possible, however, to overcome these contradictions collectively through leadership and deliberate teamwork. It is the way every successful organisation, society or even civilisation works - individual commitment to common goals enables people to do things together that they cannot, or would rather not, do by themselves.

Those law firms, or parts of law firms, which are able to reap the benefits of genuine teamworking, therefore, have a significant competitive advantage over most others. My role is to help you achieve that. The type of help I can provide includes: 

Talent spotting & sourcing leadership potential

Assessing internal leadership potential, where necessary by sourcing specialist assistance from colleagues in psychology.

Finding, attracting, assessing and recruiting external leadership potential, where necessary with specialist assistance from colleagues in psychology and recruitment.

Preparing new leaders

Understanding leadership of lawyers and partners.

Understanding law firm businesses.

Understanding partnership politics.

Understanding themselves.

Defining the boundaries of their role.

Developing existing leaders

Building 'savvy' - focusing on what matters most and how to get things done.

Influencing skills.

Communicating, storytelling and presenting.

Understanding others.

Delegating and building the right support systems around them.

Helping leaders look after themselves

Keeping it in perspective.

Rolling with the punches.

Controlling the controllable.


Their health and wellbeing.

Helping leaders build strategy and strategic team alignment

Understanding strategy, differentiation and competitive advantage.

Analysing where their business is now.

Defining their ambition.

Planning & prioritising.

Building alignment and a team mindset.

Forming, storming, norming and performing as a team.

Helping leaders build team cohesion

Mapping teams and fit.

Multiplying themselves by inculcating widespread leadership.

Selecting in the right people - defining a compelling recruitment narrative, recruitment strategies, creating good candidate choice, selling, selecting and diligencing, deal structuring, making deals happen and integration.

Selecting out, in the right way, those that no longer fit.

Attracting, assessing and recruiting A-Players, where necessary by sourcing specialist assistance from colleagues in psychology and recruitment.

Leadership & teamwork

Culture - building environments in which lawyers can thrive

Culture eats strategy for breakfast” is an oft-repeated phrase in the legal press. It originates from management guru Peter Drucker, and is the common sense that you can have the best plan and the best people, but they will be defeated if the culture and all of the enabling systems do not allow those people to implement that plan.


I’d go further. It could even be argued that “Culture is strategy” in most commercial law firms. So many firms have similar capabilities that the difference between most firms is whether they reach their potential, and the arbiter of that is culture. Culture is the oil which lubricates the law firm wheels. High-quality oil liberates the wheels to spin freely, express themselves and perform at their best. Low-quality oil means friction, inefficiency, loss, underperformance and the need to keep pressing the buttons of overachievement to compensate.

Organisational culture is the values, attitudes, behaviours and standards that people experience day-to-day at work on the ground. How people are treated, the sense of purpose, how decisions are made, expectations around how people work, and how people communicate with each other. Culture is not what is written down but the lived and felt experience in practice, in the real world and under pressure.


Most people’s experience of culture in a law firm is inconsistent because it is at a local level where the variations between people and businesses manifest themselves in practice. Different types of people without a common business focus are unlikely to identify as a team, so they will tend to do their own thing and there will be inconsistency in approach. Each person’s approach is also likely to be episodic because the typical commercial lawyer tends to drop their mask, revert to type and change their behaviour for the worse under pressure.

If a leader is on their way to alignment in strategic business direction and cohesion between the people, they are on their way to creating a team. In that case, no reason or excuse exists for these variations or episodes. These variations in approach and episodes of adverse behaviour drag the team down. They represent the fine margins between a team, and its members, misfiring and reaching their potential. The felt effect on the ground will be significant, and the result will be underperformance.

I help leaders iron out these variations in approach, reduce these episodes of adverse behaviour and thereby add the final element of consistency and trust in a team's culture in order to create the package of conditions for a high-performance team in a law firm. This includes:

Focusing on delivering on their lawyers' professional needs

The tools to do the job.

The support to do the job.

Professional safety.

Focusing on delivering on their lawyers' career needs

Career clarity.

Opportunity & challenge.

Training & development.

Focusing on delivering on their lawyers' personal needs





Clarity of objectives.

Reward & recognition.

Formalising all of the above

Writing down all of the above in detail in a top to bottom career framework, including partners, specifiying all of the attitudes, activities and behaviours expected of team members.

Generating buy-in to, and alignment behind, the formal representation of what is expected of team members.

Measuring adherence to all of the above

For example, by using Quintillion's myTeamRadar technology tools. myTeamRadar is the tracker for workplace risk. It uses next-generation visualisation analytics to find and resolve hidden risk and governance problems in the workplace.

Find out more at

or watch this short introductory video.


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