Farewell to a Friend: How Paul O’Byrne Changed the World

VeraSage Sr Fellow, Paul O’Byrne, of CA firm O’Byrne & Kennedy, passed away today, Nov 16, at his London home surrounded by family. His passing was not unexpected, but is no less saddening.

Paul was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in mid-2007, which he fought admirably and gracefully. His last year was considered by him as “bonus” time and he spent it doing the things he loved. You can read Paul’s journey, here, and laugh and live with him as we have.


Many years ago, Paul and his business partner, Paul Kennedy, made the Firm of the Future a reality. Pricing in advance and focusing on creation of value for their clients, they also culled the client-base to make sure the could serve the remaining clients fully and well. Quality over quantity. Quite the opposite of most firms’ mantras.

Quality over quantity applies to Paul’s years living, too, he was merely 51. And the legacy he’s left us with is much greater than he ever could know.

After a visit with Paul (POB) and his family just 10 days ago, Ron Baker and I had the honor of dining with Paul Kennedy (PK). PK shared with us that early in their business venture, POB had told him that he wanted to personally change the world. Several years later, POB told PK that he realized he would never be able to accomplish that, and that he would be satisfied with changing things on a smaller scale (I am paraphrasing).

It may be ironic, then, but I see POB has having significantly changed the world. Not just our small group “Team VeraSage” but Paul did the amazing: he both practiced what he preached, very successfully and innovatively, but he literally traveled the globe, to the farthest reaches, helping professionals learn how to first improve what they do for clients, and then improve their own lots in doing it. To read the comments on his blog, from all over the world, one realizes he did, in fact, accomplish his goal.

If you have been touched by Paul and if he changed the world for you and/or your business, please consider sharing your story here. We’d like to hear about it and, together, we can celebrate the many ways in which Paul did, indeed, Change the World.

As Paul wrote in his last blog post: “Life IS beautiful, and life is for living, so never stop carpe-ing!”

Goodbye, friend.


  1. Odd, but not! After posting this, I read a message on Paul’s blog posted today by his kids and they talked about…quality over quantity. It’s a touching message from the kids and it further shows how much this his life meant to him.

  2. This is very sad news. Paul and I shared some drinks a little over a year ago here in Brisbane, Australia. We had both delivered presentations on Pricing to the Queensland Law Society. We had planned on doing more together but never formalised anything due to our hectic travel schedules. A wonderful person who will be remembered fondly.

  3. Its not often you meet someone and your world is changed forever-for the better. Paul O’Byrne was that someone for me both in a professional and personal sense.

    I met Paul a little over 3 years ago in Sydney just before he was due to present the following day to a bunch of lawyers and law firm managers on “The Firm of the Future” at the Australian Legal Practice Management Association Annual Summit!

    I had little idea what the firm of the future was but within 24 hours I was a convert.After over 25 years as a partner/managing partner/CEO of Law Firms all of a sudden I met someone who so passionately,eloquently,amuzingly and genuinely was able to put some of the missing pieces of the jigsaw in the right places. Where was Paul 25 years ago when I was struggling through the billable hour maze-just because everyone else was?I knew there had to be a better way-I just didnt have anyone to guide me in a practical and pragmatic way at the time.

    Paul came out to Australia probably 5 or 6 times over the ensuring couple of years presenting,speaking, teaching, workshopping and pleading with professional services firms to move away from “The Almighty Billable Hour”.The impact Paul has had both on the legal and accounting professions in Australia is truly remarkable and it will be an impact long remembered.

    But this business side of Paul was just part of the man. Increasingly it was the personal side of Paul that allowed us to become close friends and colleagues and our families to become as one at times.We spent time in each others homes-“just dagging about” as Paul would say-and with each others friends.

    To have been able to spend time with Paul and his family a little over 2 weeks ago was one of the most joyous and saddest time of my life-the joy of again sharing experiences, stories,laughter and tears with a most remarkable human being-and the sadness of saying goodbye for the last time.

    Paul may not have changed the world-but that is ONLY because he didnt get to meet everyone in the world.

    Farewell mate- the legacy you have left will continue to inspire us all to keep up the good fight and to spread the good word.


  4. I do not have the words, but fortunately, I know someone who does, A. E. Housman.

    To An Athlete Dying Young

    THE time you won your town the race
    We chaired you through the market-place;
    Man and boy stood cheering by,
    And home we brought you shoulder-high.

    To-day, the road all runners come,
    Shoulder-high we bring you home,
    And set you at your threshold down,
    Townsman of a stiller town.

    Smart lad, to slip betimes away
    From fields where glory does not stay,
    And early though the laurel grows
    It withers quicker than the rose.

    Eyes the shady night has shut
    Cannot see the record cut,
    And silence sounds no worse than cheers
    After earth has stopped the ears:

    Now you will not swell the rout
    Of lads that wore their honours out,
    Runners whom renown outran
    And the name died before the man.

    So set, before its echoes fade,
    The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
    And hold to the low lintel up
    The still-defended challenge-cup.

    And round that early-laurelled head
    Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
    And find unwithered on its curls
    The garland briefer than a girl’s.

  5. The story really sounds very sad.I would like to wish good luck to his family for their future.I would really like to read his last blog about life.Thanks for sharing.

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