Take 5 with Stuart Fuller
We chat with Stuart Fuller about his current role as Global Head of Legal Services at KPMG.
We chat with Stuart Fuller about his current role as Global Head – Legal Services at KPMG.
|Time with KPMG||March 2018 – Present|
(as of December 2019)
|Global Head of Legal Services|
Stuart Fuller was appointed Global Head of Legal Services at KPMG earlier this year – the first time an Australian has been selected for the global role. Since joining the firm in March 2018, Stuart has served as both Head of KPMG Law in Australia, and is also the Asia Pacific Regional Leader for Legal Services for KPMG.
You spent 27 years at King & Wood Mallesons, how did you see the legal services landscape change over this time?
Over that time, law firms went from being largely domestic firms with domestic clients, to regional or global firms with a more international client base. The balance of power also changes from law firms to clients, resulting in increased competition, the rise of in-house legal teams and a drive for efficiency, and lower legal costs. That time also saw the emergence of the use of technology in law firms and a focus on innovation, although compared to KPMG, law firms innovate at the edge where as we see it as core to our capability and our solutions for our clients.
As Global Head of Legal Services at KPMG, how would you describe your leadership style?
I hope the GLS team sees me as engaged, energetic and involved, and with a strong sense on our strategy and how we execute against it. I also hope they see me as a good communicator, inclusive and available to help them. The role of GLS is to help our colleagues in KPMG win more work, and my role is to give the GLS team the right platform, access to the right teams and opportunities in KPMG and all of the support they need to succeed.
How do you see the future of traditional law firms, particularly now that legal services are provided at top-tier professional services firms?
Traditional law firms will continue to do what they do well – legal advice and transactions, and with a target buyer of legal counsel. Professional services firms are focussed on the market for legal services – which is much broader – and which includes “Core Law”, where we offer legal advisory and execution to our clients as part of an integrated KPMG offering, as well as “New Law” where we offer solutions and products which include legal technology, legal operations transformation consulting, flexible legal resources and managed services. The market is big enough for both types of organisations to survive and succeed, even if we compete in some areas and collaborate in others.
What do you perceive is the biggest challenge in your role?
GLS offers legal capability in 79 jurisdictions with over 2,400 lawyers. It is one of the largest legal platforms in the world, and offers a depth and breadth of coverage that is unmatched by traditional law firms. The biggest challenge is to get that message out there, and increase our brand and profile both within KPMG and with our clients and the market.
What’s a typical day for you?
If I am in Sydney, my day starts at about 4.30am with an hour walking my dog, Buzz. Then it is time to clear the overnight emails, get into the office and start the usual meetings and calls with the Americas and ASPAC colleagues, work closely with the core GLS team to advance our business plans, meet with some clients or push some clients and market activity myself, and then finish up the day quite late with calls with Europe, or with the global leadership across Tax & Legal. And that is before the regular travel, which has a pretty similar schedule other than walking the dog…
What would be the highlight of your career to date?
I can’t think of just one - leading KWM and now leading GLS at KPMG are two key highlights; but also the ability to transition from client practice into leadership and retain some of both, as that keeps you “real”; I am also lucky to have some amazing experiences with business leaders, politicians and government officials across the world, as well as with my colleagues. But after 18 months at KPMG, it is getting more and more difficult to say that it is not the highlight!
Given its competitive nature, what advice would you offer to someone starting out in law?
Find an area of business and law that you love, and go hard at it; always come up with a solution, not a problem; and remember that clients are people too, so engage them at that level. And be open minded - law is a great platform for many careers, as it teaches you to look at things in a different way and bring different insights, and to think, write and speak well – all of which are enormous skills to have in the rapidly changing world in which we live.
The best piece of career advice you’ve ever received?
Tony D’Aloisio, who was the CEO of Mallesons for 14 years, told me when I became the head of the banking group: as a leader, always look positive and confident. People watch their leaders. Even if you have the biggest problem to solve, look positive and confident and lead your team forward. I often remember that.
Favourite place in the world?
Home, with family and friends – and that dog!