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The Inside Track With: Karen Bexley | Partner | Bexley Beaumont

  • January 31, 2024

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Karen Bexley | Partner | Bexley Beaumont

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

Although we’re still in winter, Mondays are very much the same regardless of the season or the weather. I enjoy starting the day and the week with a get-together with our central support team, we find it really helpful to have this time together so we understand how best to support each other through the week.  Driving into the office, I’ll be thinking through our priorities. It’s always quiet time well spent, clarifying strategy in a way which is often difficult when you’re at work.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

Over the last year we have seen growth, in terms of the services which we’re able to offer, partner numbers and – of course – revenues. We have greatly expanded our presence nationwide but, despite that, we have been able to retain the team culture which we believe is one of our real strengths. We’ve done that by organising many events – either social or more structured professional get-togethers, including guest speaker events, coaching sessions and training sessions – throughout the country, based both on location and practice areas. They really have helped create a very strong bond, knowledge and respect between our partners, wherever they are and whatever they do.

Another very welcome indication of our growth has been the perception of those outside the business. In March, we were named Boutique Law Firm of the Year at the inaugural Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse awards. It was totally unexpected, not least because we only opened our doors at the start of 2020 and so it shows the very rapid impact which we have made. We have received a number of other awards and nominations but don’t take any such recognition for granted, given that having a positive reputation is often a factor in the thinking of clients and prospective colleagues alike when it comes to deciding who they want to work with.

The coming year will see us start another important process in our development; namely, the journey to B Corp status. Certification shows that we will have met certain high standards in terms of our social and environmental performance, transparency, and accountability, not just our track record as a business. It’s something which we believe is important in helping us achieve our ESG commitments.

We will also be launching a foundation and new initiative – BB Elevate – to support the development of our lawyers. There is a lot happening and we’re immensely excited to see how much we can accomplish.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

When I was still at school, my mother suggested that professional services might offer the prospect of a stable career. She was very much well aware of recession during the 1980s. That coincided with her telling me of her time as a legal secretary, so I became fixed on a job in law.

Whilst I began my degree wanting to change the world as a human rights lawyer, the Working Time Regulations came into force shortly after I started my training contract, so I became immersed in employment law instead. I qualified as a corporate and employment solicitor but I was so captivated by what was happening in employment law that I never did any corporate work.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

Without a doubt, my biggest professional satisfaction has come from launching Bexley Beaumont in January 2020 with my co-founder, Anna Beaumont after months of preparation and planning. Like any new business, we have experienced both highs and lows, even without the challenge posed by the pandemic. We believe ourselves to be fortunate to be heading into our fifth year in a strong position and with the passion that we had at the start still very much intact.

Out of the office, I enjoy watching my two daughters grow, making their own decisions but having the occasional nudge and encouragement from Mum along the way!

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

As a professional and businesswoman, I’m inspired by anyone who has built a company while staying true to themselves and their vision of how that business should be. I know just how much commitment, resilience, patience, determination and a sense of humour is certainly needed at times.

I’m also inspired by my children on a daily basis too. Thanks to the pandemic and the necessity of homeschooling which it created, they have been part of the Bexley Beaumont journey in ways that none of us could have foreseen!

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

My reading matter at the moment tends to reflect my professional interests. Currently, I’m immersed in a book called ‘The Culture Code‘ by Daniel Coyle because it is very much in keeping with one of my focal points at Bexley Beaumont; that is, building successful and safe group office cultures. It’s fascinating to consider the theory alongside the real world examples.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

Arguably the most important would be to believe in myself and enjoy the professional journey, no matter where it leads. I would also encourage my younger self to trust her instincts. Change really has been a constant over the course of my time in the law industry. Being open to and able or willing to adapt to it rather than fearful of it is another important quality.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

It has changed in so many ways, yet there is much more to do. When I became a lawyer, roughly 60 per cent of those entering the profession were female. The percentage of female partners was significantly lower. Reading SRA statistics on diversity more than two decades later, I found that women make up the majority of lawyers in law firms but still account for only one-third of partners. The way in which law firms operate has certainly undergone transformation and I feel proud that Bexley Beaumont has played a part in that. We have been called a “hybrid” and the “best of both” because we combine the most effective elements of traditional law firms and fee-share firms. Legal 500 recently remarked how we have an “innovative model” and a “progressive team culture”. It is really heartening to have those outside the firm pick up on elements of what we do that we want to be known for.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I like to remain active, so start my weekends with a park run but it’s good to watch my children keep active themselves at their various hobbies. Having said that, it’s also nice to switch off and settle down as a family at home or take a trip to the theatre with my children.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

Steven Bartlett is a favourite.

 

Bexley Beaumont is an award-winning boutique law firm with offices in London and Manchester, established in 2020 with a keen focus on delivering excellent service to their clients. Passionate about taking law to the next level, Bexley Beaumont is a firm where collaboration, support and innovation are part of the culture. They have also recently been named Boutique Law Firm of the year at The Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards.

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The Inside Track With: Tina Khanna | Conveyancing Director | RG Law

  • December 27, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Tina Khanna | Conveyancing Director | RG Law

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

It has been a busy Monday morning catching up with the team and setting out some clear goals for the week. I love to set some goals at the start of each week and have a plan.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

We have just completed a recruitment drive and we are getting all our new starters trained up and ready to go! It has been an interesting market over the last few months and we are excited to be launching a number of marketing campaigns to drive business and continue our very positive business growth.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

I decided quite early on, during the last years of school, that I wanted to be a Lawyer. I was always very inspired by the usual legal TV programmes involving the law and showing the clever use of strategy and convincing arguments to present a case in a particular way. This interest continued into my A-levels, as I studied subjects built around interpretation and analysis, such as Psychology, History and English Literature. Analytical thinking and application has always driven my interest in the Law and the ability to have a real impact in assisting people and making a difference.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

It was a very proud moment for me when I was offered the role of a Director at RG Law. The company embodies all my own personal values and is hugely committed to progressing its people. It has been amazing to be part of a company that has acted as a springboard in the careers of many legal professionals who have then gone onto start their own companies and become hugely successful. I think interacting with so much talent and helping them fulfil their full potential has been a huge accomplishment during my time as a Director at RG Law.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

Most definitely my parents. They ran a successful business for many years and taught me the importance of driving and shaping your own future. Being a parent myself, I always draw inspiration from them and how they managed all priorities in life so equally. They have always been my biggest ambassadors and I try to make them proud on a daily basis.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I really believe in the power of laughter. I love to laugh out loud. I have always loved watching ‘Friends’ and my absolute favourite character is Chandler, played by Matthew Perry. I was very upset after his recent passing and have started to read extracts from his book and plan for that to be my next read. His huge contribution to comedy is something I will always admire and continue to enjoy.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

I am quite analytical and can be hard in my critique of myself. I would tell my younger self that you learn something new every day and you don’t need to know everything on day one. Self development is a journey and you should enjoy every day and ask lots and lots of questions. No question is a silly question and there is a huge amount of knowledge and learning to be gained. I try and pass this learning onto anyone that asks me for advice when embarking on their legal career.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

I do think Covid has changed the industry and stopped people connecting with each other as much as they did before. The best way to form a relationship is to pick up the phone and talk. That’s how you can best understand the expectations and priorities of your clients and email is not always the answer. Connecting with our clients and with each other continues to be an area the industry needs to focus on.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I love working on my health and fitness. This gives me a boost of energy on a daily basis and I love to include my family in this by taking long walks to get my steps, but sharing new experiences and journeys with them on the way!

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

Simon Sinek ‘A bit of Optimism‘ and Steven Bartlett ‘Diary of a CEO‘.

 

RG Law is a successful and award-winning law firm, providing comprehensive Conveyancing, Wills and Probate Solutions with offices in Sidcup and York. Founded in 2007 and working with clients across England and Wales, RG Law is a growing team of 50 with an aim to ensure every customer, receives a level of service that exceeds their expectations.

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The Inside Track With: Allan Sumner | Partner | Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand

  • November 27, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Allan Sumner | Partner | Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

I am an early bird. I always start early when the office is quiet. I can get my thinking and drafting done while it’s quiet and without interruptions. So this morning I’ve been looking through an option agreement.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

It’s still incredibly strong.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

No! When I finished University I wanted to do something with wildlife but my Mum told me that was a hobby and not a job and that I needed to ‘knuckle down’. Thirty years later I am still knuckling down…

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

I think I’ve generally done OK over the years in helping clients achieve their objectives. I’ve been lucky to be involved with trainees too and I’m always pleased to see them come through and prosper. I would also like to think that I’m OK to deal with on the other side of transactions.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

Probably like a lot of people my parents. Their work-ethic, honesty and how much they cared.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I moved into crime fiction a few years ago, because it’s so easy to read. So at the moment DI Nick Dixon in Damien Boyd’s ‘Dead Level‘ on the Kindle.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

You grow up and develop through stages of your career both as a person and in the job. I have tried to stick with what I think is right, so the advice would be just that. Be yourself and treat people as you would like to be treated.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

It’s changed hugely since I first started and Covid accelerated some of those changes. Obviously, technology has been a huge driver and will continue to be so. Lockdown projected many firms into more modern working practices. On the downside, we spend far too much time behind computer screens and less face-to-face.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

Wildlife and the natural world. I got into running a while back and that’s been great, I’ve had some really great adventures with friends and family.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

Not sure I get much time for these but sports-related ones, cycling, rugby, and football. Really enjoy cycling’s grand tours, so those especially.

 

Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand is a full-service private, corporate and commercial law firm with offices in Lancaster and Kirkby Lonsdale. With over 200 years of legal expertise, they have been providing legal services with the highest level of legal skills and guidance across the North West & further afield, making them one of the most well-known and highly sought-after law firms in their area.

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The Inside Track With: James Bell | Partner & Head of Department | Kingsley Napley

  • October 27, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: James Bell | Partner & Head of Department | Kingsley Napley

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

Very busy! Reviewing incoming new client enquiries and meeting with our Practice Support Lawyer to set ourselves some key objectives for the next 12 months.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

The department and the firm generally is firing on all cylinders. Staff morale is very good and the new offices here at 20 Bonhill Street are a great environment for us.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

After a short period as a work placement paralegal at a busy criminal law firm I realised that law was my vocation. It took a few more years before I specialised into personal injury and then again into clinical negligence.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

In terms of casework, my proudest moment was a case for a young man who was assaulted by a police officer during a riot in Trafalgar Square. He suffered a fractured skull, epilepsy and a very disrupted education. The previous solicitors had lost legal aid funding and the case was very close to being struck out. I took over the case, re-interviewed witnesses, obtained additional CCTV and BBC footage and took the case to trial – where we succeeded. The Metropolitan Police appealed the judgement but we won again in the Court of Appeal. It was a case where I feel I personally made a difference by going the extra mile and not being afraid to take a risk.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

Lord Denning – who often managed to adapt the law in inventive ways to help those that he considered had suffered an injustice.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

In Praise of Shadows by Junichirō Tanizaki, following a recent trip to Japan.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

Don’t be afraid to take risks with hard cases.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

Working from home is probably the biggest change – overall I feel it has been a force for good in law and has not had the negative impact on client care or productivity. I still prefer in-person court hearings, however.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I enjoy park runs, gardening, cooking and long walks in the countryside.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

I’m quite a fan of unsolved true crime podcasts – so anything in that genre!

 

Kingsley Napley Solicitors is an internationally recognised London law firm with top-ranked lawyers who provide the highest quality legal advice and services across a wide range of industries and practice areas for over 80 years. While they are well-known for their Criminal Litigation, they also offer expertise in corporate and commercial, dispute resolution, employment, family, immigration, medical negligence, private client, public law, real estate & construction, and regulatory law.

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The Inside Track With: Neil Williams | White Collar and Regulatory Solicitor

  • September 26, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Neil Williams | White Collar and Regulatory Solicitor

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

As with many mornings, no matter how much has been planned, unexpected matters crop up which require priority, so it has been a case of triaging the most important items to get through first. Other days, things can run smoothly and the list of tasks which have been crafted can usually be completed.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

The effects of the pandemic are still being felt in criminal law, as well as the strike by the Bar. Delays still pervade the court system, so uncertainty remains as to whether cases will be heard before the courts, no-matter what their history. That being said, progress is being made, both with resolution to long standing investigations, as well as trials waiting for a court to hear the case.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

I suppose law was always going to be something which I was going to be a career path I was going to tread, as a number of my relatives are police officers. I nearly followed the same route into law, but a last minute change of heart meant I decided to pursue a degree and qualification as a solicitor. I didn’t think criminal law would be the area where I would focus and specialise, however given my family history, it was perhaps inevitable.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

There have been quite a few successes over the years, each of which have their own highlights in terms of accomplishments. Some will have attracted main stream media interest, others would be viewed as low level, but all will have equal importance to the client. I am fairly tenacious when I am dealing with a case where I feel a defendant is being let down by the prosecution investigation and evidence gathering, so I will leave no stone unturned to present the defence case as accurately as possible. This has helped to secure acquittals where the outcome has looked bleak from the outset.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

Aside from close family members, I don’t really have a single inspiration figure. That being said however, I will always take inspiration from individuals who overcome adversity to succeed, or overcome a life defining challenge. I enjoy reading about the lives of historical figures as well as individuals who appear in contemporary news who fit that mould.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I’ve just started to re-read the DI Thorne series by Mark Billingham, so Sleepyhead accompanies my bedtime cup of tea.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

Always stay true to your principles, and don’t allow yourself to be swayed by others to make decisions which you don’t think are right. I have luckily been able to stay close to these throughout my career, and it is advice I provide to junior colleagues as I have moved into supervision and management.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

In criminal law, there is a stark reduction in newly qualified lawyers embarking on that as a chosen career path, which will be a concern in years to come. More generally, there has been a marked increase in lawyers from very different backgrounds, which is a trend I welcome, to ensure the legal profession is as diverse as the society it represents, to ensure fair representation for all.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I enjoy watching a varied diet of sports, but rugby and football are the staples. I like to travel as much as possible, and am happy with a typical tourist break, as long as I can balance it with a very untypical adventurous trip.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

Anything by Peter Crouch, a true man of the people….

 

Neil Williams is an experienced White Collar Lawyer with extensive experience in fraud cases involving individuals and corporates. Most recently head of the Complex Crime team at Reeds Solicitors, Neil is frequently instructed on large scale cases being investigated by the SFO, HMRC, NCA and other investigative bodies, and regularly represents those facing allegations of fraud across the energy sector and financial services.

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The Inside Track With: Victoria Weinrich-Cooke | Head of Costs, Associate | MRN Solicitors

  • August 28, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Victoria Weinrich-Cooke | Head of Costs, Associate | MRN Solicitors

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

Today was a very exciting day actually. After starting as usual at about 6.45am working through emails, planning the week and dealing with case allocations, I drove to work in my scruffs as the whole team were due in for office painting day! We worked out a way that we could take advantage of our being together as a team with an activity that wasn’t work related (even though we kept up with that through the day) whilst in the process, achieving another important benefit – a rejuvenated working environment.  I have to say it was a roaring success.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

Business is really good at the moment. The office morale is high as we look to build and strengthen our relationships with each other and our Clients. The firm as a whole has undertaken a review to assess improvements to its internal structure, introducing the Associate hierarchy to encourage staff incentive to achieve. The firm has also restructured its benefits systems to ensure it remains competitive and staff-orientated, listening to the needs of the individual.

At the start of the year I worked on business planning for the office, focussing on efficiency strategies, individual staff development and well-being and targeted local business growth. There are reforms waiting in the wings and I am finding my creative side is really enjoying the opportunity to innovate in these new business areas. I am fortunate to work within a team of very talented and motivated people who offer support and collaboration on new ideas to benefit the business and our Clients.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

In fact, I was a Fine Art major, so not really. In all honesty, I felt the law was out of reach for me but I landed a temporary job in a law firm in Huddersfield as a Records Clerk working in a basement. I guess you could say I literally worked my way up, becoming a Legal Secretary, trainee draftsman and finally a Costs Lawyer.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

There are lots of moments I have been very lucky to experience and am grateful for them all. However, representing a Client in the Supreme Court was a real career high for me. I took a moment over the lunchtime break whilst sitting in the courtroom alone under the coat of arms and had to pinch myself as to how I found myself here from where I had come from.  Also, more recently winning the ACL cup and finishing top in my class was something I never imagined I could do.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

I find inspiration can reveal itself in the strangest of ways. Although very rare, negative experiences have driven me on to think “I bet I could do that job, what do I need to do to achieve it?” I am also very lucky to have a supportive partner in the same legal field who pushes me to achieve more. My family have always been there to cheer me on, especially my parents and my son. I am also very fortunate to work for a great family orientated firm which recognises its employees as individuals and the talent upon which the firm is built. They took a chance on me when the Head of Costs role came up in the Leeds Office which demonstrated a lot of faith in me and I am very thankful for that.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I love crime fiction and have recently worked my way through the Stephen King series leading up to the Outsider tv show. Having completed the “Mercedes” trilogy and have moved on to a stand-alone novel “If it Bleeds” which isn’t quite as gory as it sounds!

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

I would remind myself to think without limits. Hard work almost always pays off and not having natural talent or affinity for certain skills doesn’t mean that doors are closed to you.  They weren’t to me.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

In costs it has changed considerably and is set to change yet again. Its a feature of the industry that keeps things so interesting. The increasing prevalence of mediation in the law in general in the last few years prompted me to study this more closely.  As a qualified mediator, I am keen to see where this will take us in terms of costs and wider litigation in general.  Keeping up to date and dealing with so many new procedures such as the introduction of costs budgeting, costs management, QOCS and various fixed costs regimes provide ample opportunities to work closely with our clients to assist them with new challenges.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I love to keep fit and have recently taken up hill walking with my partner. We did 30 miles over 2 days – a tall order but a great experience for us both. I am also getting into yoga and I am a season ticket holder at Sheffield United with my son so looking forward to some premiership football next season.

I also love sketching, painting and spending time with my son who makes me proud every day.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

I am rather ashamed to say I haven’t yet caught the podcast bug so I am still a bit of a novice. Always happy to take recommendations!

 

MRN Solicitors is an award-winning firm, with offices in Manchester, Leeds and London. Providing comprehensive legal costs services for over 20 years, the team at MRN serve clients both nationally and internationally, ranging from Top 10 City firms to smaller single partner practices, covering a wide spectrum of legal issues. Services include: Costs Plans, Costs Budgets (Precedent H), Bills of Costs, Negotiations, Advocacy, Mediation, WIP Valuation, File Audits, and Seminars.

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The Inside Track With: Zaeem Khan | Director | RMZ Law Offices

  • July 23, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Zaeem Khan | Director | RMZ Law Offices

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

I had a meeting at 10am, following which I was busy supervising a couple of completions that were lined up for today (approving payments etc.)

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

As a real estate lawyer, business could get better if the interest rates come down and cost of living goes back to normal levels – hopefully we can see these changes sooner rather than later.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

Always! I’ve been studying law since I was 16, I opted for it in A Levels and went on to do the LLB, LPC and LLM before commencing my training contract. I’ve never cheated on the law!

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

I have been lucky enough to work for some of the largest and most respected real estate teams/firms in the country, which gave me the opportunity to get involved with very large transactions for industry leading clients. However, my greatest achievement is that I have been able to create job opportunities for young people and training them to have the skills needed to be able to excel as a lawyer.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

My kids! They inspire me to be the best version of me. Being a role model for them is of paramount importance to me.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

The Establishment: And how they get away with it by Owen Jones.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

Knowledge of the law will come with time and experience, now is the time to develop habits that will serve you well in the long-term. Habits such as diarising, networking, speaking to people (rather than sending emails) and being a reliable trainee or paralegal. If I had to choose, I would prefer working with a reliable trainee than a knowledgeable one who is not as reliable as the other.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

The legal sector has become increasingly challenging for smaller firms to thrive in. It is easy to forget that law firms are also businesses, and a challenging environment for any business is also a challenging environment for a law firm.

Energy costs, increasing rents, competitive fees, rising wages and escalating insurance premiums have made matters worse for smaller high street firms. However, my mentor (Mr Martin Jinks) once said to me, “If you are good enough, you will always have work on your desk”.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

My two boys – one is 4 and the other arrived less than a month ago! They keep me busier than clients do

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

The Rest is Politics‘ which features Alastair Campbell, whose book ‘Winners and how they succeed‘ is worth recommending to young professionals.

 

RMZ Law Offices is a full-service law and consulting firm established with a client-centric focus with dedicated lawyers who provide specialised services across the UK. Practising in multiple areas of law, RMZ has been providing legal services from their Manchester office since 2015 and, due to continued success, have recently opened a London office too.

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The Inside Track With: John Chesworth | Executive Chairman | Harrison Drury Solicitors

  • June 26, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: John Chesworth | Executive Chairman | Harrison Drury Solicitors

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

Trip to the gym first thing, then the usual email checking followed by a Teams call to a client about a possible investment opportunity.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

We recently announced a raft of promotions and it is great to see our people progressing through the firm in particular, our new partner Jack Stephenson, who joined the firm as a trainee solicitor. Also, we are managing to attract some really talented people into the business who are much needed to deal with the strong flow of new instructions despite the pessimism that seemed to be in the air around new year. We have just finished the first quarter of our financial year ahead of target after a strong 2022, so business is pretty good.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

When I was 8, I wanted to drive a tipper truck. I achieved this objective by 18 when employed during my gap year by Kiernan Construction (now a client), however, Pat Kiernan told me I was the worst driver he had ever employed, so I had to think again. I studied History and Economics at university and had thoughts of going into business management after that, but received some wise counsel that I should consider the professions as an alternative. I decided on law, so after graduation, I did the conversion course which was called the Common Professional Examination – now the GDL. In the end, I did end up managing a business here at Harrison Drury.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

As you move into a leadership position, the accomplishments in your career are the accomplishments of the business, and these are down to so many people other than yourself. I think what I have managed to do is to set the direction of travel for our firm, and successfully build a team that are committed to take the firm in that direction.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

My dad is my greatest inspiration. He was hardworking, had a sense of duty and got on with everybody. When I was considering leaving my job as a partner in a very well respected regional law firm to take on Harrison Drury, which at the time was a very small high street practice, he told me to back myself and I never looked back. I learned from him that you get the outcomes your hard work deserves, you do right by people and they will reciprocate and that if something is important to you, get involved and make a difference.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I’m re-reading “The Infinite Game” by Simon Sinek. For me this is the bible for anyone who wants to build a sustainable business that isn’t swayed off course by short-term thinking.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

I would tell myself that the most important thing is to fully understand what my client is trying to achieve, and that time spent getting to know your client whether it be a business or an individual, will pay you back many times over.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

The two changes that are really affecting the legal sector now are the relationship between firms and their people and also data/information management in firms.

On the people side, the “one size fits all” mentality that many firms adopted to their staffing models, simply will not work in the future, flexible working is here to stay. However, firms have to appreciate that fundamental drivers for retaining your people are the relationships they build with colleagues, and the working environment needs to facilitate these relationships. Relationships are built and maintained much easier in person than over a daily Teams call, getting the balance right is the key.

With regard to data and information management, while there has been a lot of talk for over a decade about how AI might affect the provision of legal services, I think we are now on the cusp of seeing this mobilised into software that will transform our sector.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

I’ve always been a keen sportsman. I played rugby at Preston Grasshoppers for many years, and I am a member of the club’s management committee now. Being too old to play rugby, I now get my exercise through cycling, and this is probably the best stress relieving activity you could do, getting out into the glorious Lancashire countryside.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

I really like listening to Matthew Syed’s podcast “Sideways“. Brilliantly presents ways of seeing the world differently.

 

Harrison Drury Solicitors  is an award-winning solicitors based in Lancashire and Cumbria with offices across the North West. Founded in 1901, and after multiple name changes, the modern day firm now provides a range of legal services for businesses and private individuals including commercial property services, commercial dispute resolution, business sales and purchases, residential conveyancing, civil litigation, family law, employment law, and wills and probate.

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The Inside Track With: Pauline Rigby | Managing Partner | Forbes Solicitors

  • May 24, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Pauline Rigby | Managing Partner | Forbes Solicitors

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

Very productive, gym session at 5.45am, bit of breakfast, reviewed my to-do list that I prepared last night, dropped the kids off at school and have been productive in the office so far from 8.30am. It’s a Friday today and the atmosphere is lovely in the office, feels like everyone is ready for weekend!

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

Business is good, financials are healthy and there’s plenty going on around the firm from a culture perspective and also charitable perspective. The executive group are working hard at implementing new processes to create further efficiencies and increase output. We’re also in the business planning phase as we approach the end of this financial year and the start of the next.

Exciting times for Forbes!

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

Yes, it has. I did however at the start of my career wish to be a criminal lawyer, therefore qualifying as a Corporate lawyer was a far cry from my original intentions.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

Landing a training contract at Forbes. Self-doubt, imposter syndrome and all those similar type issues led me to believe that the day would never come. It was a very tearful joyous day and one I’ll never forget when I found out I had been successful.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

There are a number of people I would place into this category, my parents, my partner who is an incredible businessman, previous Managing Partners of the firm and finally and most importantly my children who inspire me every day to be the best version of myself.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I’m love a fiction book in the evening and a non-fiction audio book in the car. I’m reading “Lessons in Chemistry” at the moment which is the Forbes book club ‘book of the month’  – and a No.1 Sunday Times and No. 1 New York Times bestseller.

Non-fiction wise, I am currently listening to “Traction” on audio. Written by Gino Wickman, it focuses on  The Entrepreneurial Operating System ‘ESO’ and practical advice for achieving success when running a business.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

To have more belief in yourself and bring your true self to work.

The moment I started believing in myself and bringing my true self to work my career started to flourish.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

It’s changed hugely! Mainly due to advancements in technology and also in client expectations. Legal service providers also come in many different shapes and sizes now as opposed to just traditional law firms. There has been and will continue to be globalisation within the legal sector which has led to a very buoyant M&A market. Clients have become more sophisticated due to the use of technology which has led to a shift towards more client-centric approaches and pricing models.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

My family, I adore spending time with my family. I also love spending time with friends and getting out in the fresh air as much as possible. I’m also a keen gym goer and try to commit to at least 4 sessions in the gym a week. I find it helps me in so many areas of my life.

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

I’d have to pick two…Steven Bartlett “The Diary of CEO” and Boss Babe.

Legal 500 Top Tier Firm Forbes Solicitors operates nationally, with offices in Lancashire, Manchester, Leeds and London. The Firm offers the full range of legal services to commercial clients, individuals, and in a number of specialist sectors.  

 

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The Inside Track With: Christian Butler | Partner | Hay & Kilner LLP

  • April 24, 2023

Every month we speak to prominent professionals working in, around, and for the legal sector in the UK, uncovering their greatest inspiration, what makes them tick in a work capacity and out, and their own career paths and journey to the top of their game.

Interview with: Christian Butler | Partner | Hay & Kilner LLP

WHAT HAS YOUR MORNING LOOKED LIKE?

5.30am start, readied myself for the day and then rallied my three children out of bed to start to get ready for school. I arrived at work just after 7.30am and after a quick catch up with my colleagues, I planned my work for the day and considered work flow for the week for both myself and my team. I then responded to e-mails received over the weekend before preparing for and then attending a client meeting at 10.00am taking me through to lunch.

HOW IS BUSINESS AT THE MOMENT?

Busy. In family law this is bittersweet knowing that more people are experiencing difficulties in their lives, but at the same time, I am grateful that they are trusting me and my team to help them.

HAS IT ALWAYS BEEN ‘LAW’ AS A CHOSEN CAREER?

No, growing up I dreamt of being an actor or a doctor. Whilst I enjoyed acting, I never followed the dream beyond some am-dram and I’m sure there are some videos of my “acting years” floating around which would amuse many of my friends and colleagues, plus a realisation that I am not a huge fan of blood in my late teens quickly ruled out a future in medicine!

My love of the ocean and diving saw me undertake a degree in Marine Biology. I soon realised, unfortunately, that spending all my time on boats was not ideal as I get seasick. Lab work was also not for me. I worked for several years throughout my undergraduate degree in the hospitality industry and flourished in customer service and people management roles. I found myself particularly adept at dealing with more difficult customers.

My experiences ultimately led me to returning to university to study law. After university, I envisaged that I would work in corporate law and that area still interests me, particularly given the work that I now do often acting on behalf of clients with their own businesses and interests in companies. Throughout my wonderful training contract however, I gravitated towards family law.

Looking back I believe this was due in part to my own experience as the child of divorced parents. I saw first-hand the difficulties faced by my parents, and myself and my sister, as children, going through the process. Clients’ problems resonated with me and I found I was genuinely able to assist them in times of great turmoil. I was able to utilise my years of training in applying the law and at the same time use my honed communication and empathy skills, along with what some may call my tenacity in dealing with particularly problematic situations. I found this greatly enjoyable. In retrospect, given my life experiences, forging a career in family law was perhaps an inevitability.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR?

I have been fortunate enough to be able to help so many deserving clients over the years, which is why I come into work each day, but my greatest personal accomplishment is returning as a Partner to Hay & Kilner, after completing my training contract at the firm. I relish in leading a team of brilliant lawyers and I am so excited for the continued growth of both my team and the wider firm.

WHO WOULD YOU SAY IS YOUR BIGGEST INSPIRATION?

I appreciate this is cliched but my mother is my biggest inspiration. She has endured more than most in her life but, through hard work, determination and courage, she led a successful career and was always there for me and my sister. Everything she does is done with love and passion and she exudes eternal kindness. I would not be in the position I am today without her sacrifices and commitment to me and I aspire to be more like her every day.

WHAT ARE YOU READING AT THE MOMENT?

I bought my wife Michelle Obama’s The Light We Carry as a Christmas present. She raced through it in two days and passed it on. It is a thought provoking read which encourages the reader to “illuminate the richness and potential of the world around us” and to “work through fear, find strength in community and live in boldness”. I would encourage all to read it.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE YOURSELF IF YOU COULD GO BACK TO THE START OF YOUR CAREER IN THE LEGAL SECTOR?

Just be yourself; you are enough! Be open-minded, keep growing, keep reading and keep trying to understand who you are and doors will open that you never knew existed.

HOW HAS THE LEGAL SECTOR CHANGED IN RECENT YEARS?

In family law, the biggest change is in respect of the Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020 bringing about so called “no fault divorce”. This, coupled with the reduction in Legal Aid and the services available to parties going through separation and divorce, has meant a large increase in litigants in person and DIY divorce jobs. There are very real reasons why expert advice is needed in a lot of these cases and I am concerned as to the repercussions of not taking, or having access to, advice.

More generally, the way in which traditional law firms operate is changing. It is important that law firms move with the times, be it in respect of structure, non-fee earning functions and technology.

OUTSIDE OF WORK, WHAT MAKES YOU TICK?

My family. Despite a busy and forever growing workload, I try to spend as much time with my children as possible – whether that is walking to school, attending sporting events or being a monster ridden around the living room. When I am not with the children, I love watching a good film with my wife which takes me away from the thousands of thoughts I have running through my head!

AND FINALLY, YOUR GO-TO PODCAST?

Grounded with Louis Theroux. I find his style of questioning and his ability to get people to open up about deep and personal matters, be they public figures or not, brilliant. This often makes for thought provoking, inspiring and comical listening.

 

Hay & Kilner LLP  is a full, service law firm with a long-established reputation and with offices in Newcastle & Wallsend. Founded in 1946, Hay & Kilner offers a variety of legal services to both individuals and businesses including Residential and Commercial Property, Family, and Inheritance Disputes, as well as niche areas including Agriculture and Veterinary Practices.

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