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.