“Sharing the wealth” – Firm donates all profits to charity

Healy: We believe there is a better way

Corporate law firm Aria Grace Law has pledged to give all of its profits to charity and other good causes forever as part of a commitment to “share the wealth between clients, lawyers and society”.

It has also become the first law firm in the world to undergo a ‘Circulytics’ assessment, which helps companies measure their contribution to the ‘circular economy’.

Aria Grace Law is a dispersed law firm set up in June 2018 by Lindsay Healy, a former City lawyer and general counsel. It now has 30 partners and aims to hit a turnover of at least £2m in its current financial year.

It has more than 260 clients, ranging from the Mibelle Group and Smart Pension, to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and Antarctic explorer Ben Saunders.

Aria Grace Law is unregulated and we first reported on it last year when it received a waiver from the Solicitors Regulation Authority so that the partners could practise as solicitors. They can now do this without a waiver since the introduction of the Standards & Regulations last November.

The lawyers retain 90% of their fees – compared to 70% typically at other dispersed firms – and from this month all profits it generates will go to charity. This is currently Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Up until now, the lawyers kept 85% of their fees, and whatever was then left after overheads was redistributed back to them, less 5% for charity.

The new model – which Mr Healy said was supported by every lawyer at the firm – should mean charitable donations of at least £150,000 this year should the financial target be met.

Mr Healy, who is paid in the same way as every other lawyer at the firm, said: “Our model, when you boil it right down, is to spread wealth, with clients, lawyers and society as one ecosystem. We want to get away from the typical law firm triangle where the people at the top make the money and the people at the bottom do the work.

“We believe there is a better way, and through working together and sharing more, we are creating more. I am not surprised to find that plenty of top-quality lawyers agree, particularly at a time where businesses need to prove their principles with deeds rather than words.

“It is integral to the ethos of Aria Grace Law that we play our part. Our clients enable us, and we thank them by providing top-notch services at great value. Everyone wins: clients and lawyers, and because of our model, society and the next generations.”

Lawyers are not required to have client followings to join Aria Grace Law, and there is no requirement to pay to join, as is common with other firms. It is putting in place a mentoring scheme to help junior lawyers develop their practices too.

“We want to create a pathway for the next generations into firms like ours,” Mr Healy said.

He added that the firm has received more than 100 applications to join since lockdown began.

Its wider societal commitment extends to planting a tree for every transaction the firm completes – 300 so far this year alone – and becoming the first law firm in the world to go through the Circulytics assessment designed by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Companies including BASF, Ikea and Unilever helped to develop it.

The Circulytics assessment helps companies measure their contribution to the ‘circular economy’, a fast-growing global movement based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. Aria Grace Law received an ‘A’, but identified further steps it can take.

Aria Grace Law is also working towards becoming only the third law firm in the UK to secure B-Corporation certification after Bates Wells and Radiant Law.

B-Corps balance purpose and profit, and are required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment.

Aria Grace Law is also working as part of a team led by partner Nick Gould on behalf of several sub-postmasters appealing their convictions in the Court of Appeal as a result of the Post Office scandal recently documented on BBC’s Panorama. Paul Marshall, a barrister at Cornerstone Barristers, is acting as well.

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