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Understanding Leadership - Hugh James

In 2016, Cardiff Business School and Hugh James embarked on a programme of learning designed to equip 10 key figures in the Business (equality and salaried partners) with essential leadership knowledge to help develop them as leaders within a transformation organisation.

The background

Hugh James is a Top 100 UK law firm offering specialist legal and financial advice. They have over 50 years’ experience and are established as the largest indigenous law firm in Wales. Following a period of unprecedented change for Hugh James, the firm found itself in an exciting place in terms of its evolution and development.

They had undergone a brand and image refresh complete with a new vision and values that illustrate the company’s professionalism and ambition. They acquired MLM Cartwright, whose clients include SA Brain & Co., and the Celtic Manor Resort, confirming Hugh James as the largest corporate, commercial and property legal team in Wales.

The company announced the relocation of their headquarters to a brand new 100,000 sq ft. office space in Central Square Cardiff, near to the new base for BBC Wales, the Cardiff University School of Journalism and Media Studies and Cardiff Central Station, to facilitate links to London and beyond.

If that wasn’t enough, a new business strategy had been formulated and was beginning to be disseminated and interpreted by every member of staff.

The brief

To work in collaboration with Hugh James to further build on their successful approach to leadership development and transformational change, and to equip the senior team with the knowledge needed to lead the business through the organisation’s period of significant growth

The solution

We created the following programmes:

  • two Understanding Leadership programmes
  • Senior Leadership Continuous Improvement Masterclass
  • Continuous Improvement team training.

The programme

Understanding Leadership was built around four days, each of which had been designed to provide the expertise needed for individuals and teams to excel within the new Hugh James performance development framework. The programme covered the components of successful organisations, nurturing client relationships, high performance teams and business development. Emphasis was given to the process of embedding tools and methods throughout the whole organisation and cascading the learning.


Following the success of the 2016 Understanding Leadership programme, Hugh James and Cardiff Business School further collaborated on a 2017/18 leadership programme.

Our relationship with Hugh James is a positive one and continues to develop. They have delivered breakfast briefings for the School and participate in programme approval workshops designed to collect industry feedback about our courses.

Developing these relationships is a key strength of working with Cardiff Business School and Cardiff University. We offer fantastic access to our talent (students and academics), knowledge and resources and commissioning education and training initiatives is a great way to trigger these great relationships. Commissioning education programmes with us is a great way to initiate productive partnerships.

Cardiff Business School is the perfect fit – being able to enjoy the Executive Education Suite and all that it offers, and the access to the academics that we had, was real career highlight.

Pip Thomas, former Head of Learning & Development

Cardiff Business School is so well known, it’s highly ranked, and for me, the teaching was exceptional. It made us think about our own teams, and about our own business. We got there by ourselves – but with expert support.

Alun Jones, Managing Partner, Hugh James

The quality of the academics from Cardiff Business School was outstanding, they quickly established good rapport with everyone on the course, and very quickly established themselves as leaders in their fields.

Hugh James

Contact us

If you would like to speak to us about how we could design and deliver a similar programme in collaboration with your organisation, please contact our friendly team for an initial informal discussion:

Continuing Professional Development Unit