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.