A fee-share practice has become what is thought to be the first corporate law firm to become a not-for-profit community interest company (CIC), ensuring it donates all profits to charity.
Aria Grace Law first pledged to give all of its profits to charity and other good causes in 2020, as part of a commitment to “share the wealth between clients, lawyers and society”.
Becoming a CIC, which includes adopting new articles of association, locks in this commitment. CICs are regulated by the Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies and have to produce an annual report which details the benefits they have provided to the community.
It is not the first law firm CIC – there is London criminal practice Commons Legal, Norwich private client firm Not for Profit Law, and North London employment and immigration firm Saltworks Law, set up by charity the Anti-Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit.
Aria Grace Law is not a regulated law firm but its lawyers are individually regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
They retain 90% of their fees, significantly higher than other fee-share firms. All of the net profits go to charity after the overhead costs have been met. The firm is on track to donate at least £200,000 this year to its charities including AGE UK and the Trussell Trust.
Founder Lindsay Healy, a former City solicitor and general counsel, said clients were motivated by this too – Aria Grace recently advised Send Technology in its £9m Series A investment raise. The firm made a £3,000 profit from the deal, which Send Technology matched so as to make a £6,000 donation in total. He said other clients were doing the same.
Aria Grace now has 58 lawyers generating overall revenue of around £4m and said the number of corporates served by the firm has quadrupled since 2020.
Mr Healy said: “Becoming a CIC shows that our commitment to practising with purpose is more than a tick-box exercise. The regulator puts our feet to the fire and requires us to show what we’re doing, how we’re doing it and how we can get better next year.
“We are all about sharing the wealth – our lawyers get a huge 90% of their fees, which means they can afford to charge clients less and yet still earn way more than our competitors and society benefits from the ever-greater profits we can donate to charity.
“We are unashamedly about making more money for our lawyers because that feeds into the charity pots, but the model means they do not have to flog themselves into the ground to achieve it. We don’t talk about work-life balance at Aria Grace; we talk about life-work.”
Among Aria Grace’s new recruits are Louise Wolfson, former Allen & Overy corporate partner, and Elena Cooper, former head of EMEA for employment at Duane Morris.