Some of the UK’s most progressive law firms have been recognised at this year’s 360 Legal Group Awards 2013 which took place on Thursday 3rd and Friday 4th October.
It is the fourth year that 360 Legal Group, which helps law firms across the UK manage and market their practices more successfully as businesses, has held the awards to find and recognise practices of all sizes who are not only adapting but responding to the fast changing conditions facing the legal professional and the challenging economic climate they are facing.
Robert Derry-Evans, 360 Legal Group chairman noted that this year’s winners were clearly meeting their challenges head-on, demonstrating to their clients that they were worth instructing and could add value to their clients’ businesses, whilst managing their practices profitably.
This year the categories included: Law firm of the year, 360 Legal Group member firm of the year, local law firm of the year, outstanding client service, niche law firm of the year, most innovative marketing idea and best use of technology in business development.
The winners were announced as follows:
Law firm of the year – sponsored by Lloyds Bank
Stephensons Solicitors LLP
Stephensons Solicitors LLP, which has nine offices in Altrincham, Bolton, Leigh, Manchester, St Helens , Wigan and London scooped the title Law Firm of the Year, for the second year running.
The judges were looking for evidence of a firm that sets itself apart from its competitors within a legal market which is constantly changing during the recession. Not only has Stephensons responded to these challenges, but the firm continues to go from strength to strength with a highly impressive 13% turnover and 36% operating profit increase in the year to April 2013. It has successfully branched out from its base in the North West by opening a London office in May 2013.
As well as adopting innovative ways to attract new clients and retain existing ones, Stephensons in partnership with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, have recently agreed to offer 100 legal apprenticeships to A level students and during 2013 they have opened up a 24 staff central client service centre to handle all telephone and Internet enquiries.
360 Legal Group member firm of the year – sponsored by 360 Legal Group
Gordon Brown Law Firm
Gordon Brown Law Firm has offices in Newcastle and Chester-Le-Street.
It was nominated by consultants working with 360 member firms for the way in which the firm has pursued a very clear strategy during the course of the year. The firm appointed the youngest female partner as its new managing partner and has undergone a massive change in the last 12 months or so, starting afresh with a completely new marketing and sales training programme and linking remuneration to performance and accountability.
The firm has shown significant growth in these difficult economic times and has grown its conveyancing volumes by 500% since 2006 after investing in and training its staff to use its Intelliworks case management system. It has also separated out its bulk conveyancing and probate office into a new Chester-Le-Street office while retaining its Newcastle office for its commercial and private client base.
Local law firm of the year – sponsored by Saffery Champness
Fosters Solicitors has eight offices across Norfolk and Suffolk.
The judges were looking for clear evidence of legal expertise and service delivery designed to meet the needs of the local community together with a willingness to engage with the local community and Fosters Solicitors clearly demonstrated their commitment to the local community.
There was a lot of competition for this award, but what made Fosters stand out from the rest was the variety of different ways in which they work within their locality. The firm runs a mock trials programme in local schools as part of their citizenship programmes and offers internships to University of East Anglian law students. It has also teamed up with one of the strongest local brands, Norwich City Football Club, by becoming official legal partner to the club with a 5 year strategy to develop joint brand awareness, in lauding specific offers to season ticket holders.
Whilst the firm had in mind exploring fresh opportunities to generate new work in these difficult economic times, they quickly came to realise that one of their greatest strengths lay in being local. The firm which has been based in its local Norwich community since 1761 has invested considerable time and effort in identifying, engaging and enhancing existing relationships within the community.
Outstanding client service – sponsored by Lexis-Nexis
Larcomes LLP has offices in Portsmouth and Hampshire.
They were recognised for having fully taken on board the requirements of the new SRA Code of Conduct to put client service and sound business management at the forefront of everything they do.
The firm started out as a small local family solicitors practice in Portsmouth over a hundred years ago and over the years, the firm has grown considerably and now has two offices but they have always maintained their local roots and service a wide range of local businesses and local people.
As well as adopting innovative ways to attract new clients and retain existing ones, they have a commitment to helping the most vulnerable people in society by offering access to justice to all parts of society, not just those who can afford it and in a bid to respond to the legal aid and recession challenges, Larcomes has implemented fixed price services across a wide range of legal services to give their publicly funded and private paying clients certainty and security.
During the course of the past couple of years, Larcomes has become recognised for going “Beyond the Standard”, achieving ISO accreditation, as well as retaining the Law Society’s quality mark, Lexcel.
Niche law firm of the year – Nigel Davis
Nigel Davis Solicitors has its office in Derbyshire.
The judges were looking for clear strategic vision and a clear focus within a firm that could show that they are doing something genuinely different. The firm showed clear evidence of being a highly specialised agricultural boutique that began as a sole practice in 2000 and has grown significantly over the years to enjoy a preeminent presence for its specialist agricultural advice in Derbyshire.
As a firm they have always been committed to the local community and they act for a wide range of clients such as, small tenant farmers, through to the landed gentry, blue chip companies, local authorities and charities.
There was a lot of competition for this award, but what made Nigel Davis stand out from the rest was that all of the team members at the firm come from farming backgrounds and have hands-on experience of rural agricultural matters. Also, their agricultural law profile on Twitter has over 7,000 followers and re-tweets such essential industry stories as “Drunken female sheepshearers in court after battle with 5 cops following farmers’ disco”!
Most innovative marketing idea – sponsored by Conscious Solutions
Matthew Arnold Baldwin
Matthew Arnold Baldwin has offices in London and Watford.
Matthew Arnold Baldwin were recognised for the most innovative marketing idea after the firm set up the Pharmaceutical Industry Networking Group (PING) in 2010 in collaboration with Watford Council and Watford Chamber of Commerce. Starting from scratch it now has 47 network members who generate work for each other with our winner of the award citing several instances of client wins coming directly from its membership of the network.
This firm started out with a clear objective to establish its home base in Watford as a centre of excellence for the pharmaceutical sector and the head of the firm’s Pharma and Life Sciences sector group has been recognised with an honorary masters degree for his contribution to the industry.
Best use of technology in business development – sponsored by Tikit
Dee & Griffin
Dee & Griffin Solicitors has offices in Gloucester.
The judges were looking for evidence of a firm that could demonstrate that they have successfully implemented technology to deliver an efficient, cost-effective, high quality service to their client base.
Dee & Griffin has used a Virtual firm case tracking portal to drive business development for their conveyancing clients and estate agent contacts. They have fully embraced the new technology and incorporated it actively into all their marketing strategies and materials. The case tracking IT provides an additional customer service touch point, and has led directly to the expansion of the team and to increased income and improved customer service.
For details of this year’s conference and to find out more about the 360 Legal Group, please visit: www.360legalgroup.co.uk .