An Edinburgh law firm claims to have become the first in the UK to embrace full employee ownership of the business.
The new employee-owned company, Fox & Partners, gives all of the firm’s 10 staff an ownership stake in the new entity, as well as full representation within new management arrangements.
The firm specialises in claimant employment and equality matters, and all legal work will be carried out by the separate independent law firm Fox Solicitors (formerly Fox Cross).
Fox & Partners is also joining a family of employee-owned businesses under the umbrella of Baxi Partnership, a company that helps to fund, establish and support such companies.
Fox & Partners will be run by a management board made up of representatives from every area of the business, ensuring that legal, administrative, and support staff all have a say in its direction and strategy.
Founder Carol Fox, formerly of national firm Thompsons and Newcastle-based Stefan Cross, said the move is “a natural extension of the firm’s core values – respecting and valuing employees, a passionate commitment to equality, and fair reward for hard work”.
“Employee ownership is a bold new way of working within the legal profession… We are going an extra step to ensure we practise what we preach by promoting equality and good employment practice.”
She said that even if Scotland’s rules on alternative business structures had been in force, they would not have suited the firm’s approach given their requirement for majority lawyer ownership.
Ms Fox described it as a “charter for everyone to work hard because they’ll get the rewards of it”, adding that the plan is to expand out of Edinburgh given the shortage of dedicated claimant employment lawyers in Scotland.
The firm has consulted closely with the Law Society of Scotland throughout the process and the structure won the endorsement of its president, Austin Lafferty. He said: “The Law Society of Scotland welcomes this exciting and laudable initiative. The legal profession is at a cross roads in an ever changing world which presents many challenges. Those with the vision to embrace new opportunities will survive and flourish and we are delighted to support this development.
“Employee ownership is a groundbreaking opportunity to take the legal profession in a new direction. It is commendable that Fox & Partners wishes to embrace this new model which allows everyone in the firm to share in their success – where everyone has a voice and a stake in their future.”