When Livingston Leandy Inc (LLI) moved to its new premises in La Lucia Ridge’s Glass House Office Park at the end of August, it was the culmination of a two-year strategic plan not only to re-locate but also to re-envision this historic Durban legal firm.
“We are proud of our reputation for delivering expert and efficient legal service to our clients for almost 130 years, but the environment in which we operate has changed,” reflects Subashnee Moodley, LLI’s managing director. “There used to be this perception that the best location for a law firm was within walking distance of the high court. And while that was probably true in the past, nowadays it is more important to be easily accessible to our clients,” she adds.
When Durban’s business hub began to migrate north of the uMngeni some years ago, LLI opened a satellite branch in uMhlanga to service its outlying clients. When the migration became an exodus, LLI responded by expanding its presence in the northern suburbs. LLI was already located in the Glass House Office Park, but inconveniently spread over two floors and “tucked away” from public view. “We needed room to grow,” comments Moodley. “Not just geographically, but a new space in which to expand our business.”
LLI’s new premises are on the ground floor of a modern, glass-fronted building that opens on to uMhlanga Rocks Drive. “It looks the way we would like our clients to view us,” says Moodley. “Fresh and forward-looking, easily accessible and transparent.”
LLI’s transformation runs far deeper than its attractive contemporary decor and brightly-coloured coffee area. The firm has long been committed to promoting racial equity and – in a profession that is traditionally male-dominated – has actively pursued gender equality. “At a professional level we have more women than men in the office,” observes Moodley, “two of whom are directors.” She need not add the obvious – that she herself is paving the way as the firm’s first woman managing director.
Technological transformation is another aspect of LLI’s move to meet the fast-paced demands of modern business. “Clients are looking for a quick response to their needs,” says Moodley. “This does not negate the important role relationship plays in our dealings with our clients, and many still want to meet face-to-face, but on the whole clients want swift, commercially-practical advice and this requires up-to-date technology and the skills to operate it.”
While LLI has always provided a broad range of legal services, the directors keep abreast of developing business trends in order to remain relevant to its broad client base. The firm has accordingly re-established its shipping department, strengthened its labour department, expanded its commercial division, and are also cognisant of the need to develop expertise in social media law.
Rather than remaining rooted in the past, the directors of LLI have chosen to use the firm’s solid foundation as a springboard to propel them into the future. Today, LLI remains value-driven and client-centred but the focus is forward, striving to remain relevant in an ever-changing socio-economic and political climate, not only locally but globally.
031 536 7500La Lucia Ridge, law, Livingston Leandy Inc