On a recent revisit to Birmingham Jason Nottage got the chance to sit down again with Karen Bexley and Anna Beaumont to discuss the latest happenings at Bexley Beaumont and what life looks like for a Bexley Beaumont consultant solicitor.
Great to see you again. Anna, my LinkedIn news feed has been very busy with so many great Bexley Beaumont news stories. Can you tell us what has been happening at Bexley Beaumont in 2023?
AB: This year has been another memorable one in terms of adding strength in depth, both in terms of the individuals who have arrived and the breadth of services which we can offer clients. Eighteen partners have joined in the last 12 months and in addition to launching a private wealth team, we're now able to offer Construction, ESG, Commercial Technology, and Intellectual Property support. What has been particularly rewarding is that we have managed to incorporate all that change while remaining committed to our uncompromising approach to quality and our intention of being regarded as the leading fee-share firm of choice for the very best legal talent. Our focus is not only attracting lawyers of the highest calibre but making sure that they feel part of the team. Over the course of this year alone, for instance, we have organised more than 60 events designed to bring everyone together - regardless of geographic locations or practice areas - to foster a genuine team spirit.
Karen, having worked with you and Anna since the very start, I know that you value having a team culture. How are you managing to maintain that even as you grow?
KB: Since we launched, we have kept one phrase - "Grow the Team, Keep the Culture" - in mind at all times. We enjoy an open dialogue with our partners and associates. There are lots of opportunities hosted centrally to come together, to share ideas and initiatives, to support each other which all helps with feeling connected. We also keep everyone aware of how the firm is progressing and often ask what they need to support them and their clients. That's not a generic exercise but involves lots of direct communication, so that what we do better reflects what is necessary. About this time last year, for example, they suggested more small group events, so that's exactly what we've put in place this year.
This year, Bexley Beaumont was named Boutique Law Firm in the Northern Powerhouse Awards, which was organised by Legal 500. What makes your firm so special?
AB: The evening on which we picked up that award was one of the real highlights of 2023. Being named ahead of so many other great businesses reinforced our own sense that we are doing something right in determining a particular approach and staying true to it. We weren't able to nominate ourselves. The shortlists were drawn up as a result of research carried out by Legal 500 itself, speaking to our peers, clients and contacts. That's what made the award truly special.
If I was a solicitor working with a traditional firm structure reading this article and had no prior thoughts about life as a consultant solicitor, how might you best explain the differences?
KB: As a consultant, you certainly have far more control over your career. You can determine your own goals and targets as well as deciding how, when and where you work. At Bexley Beaumont, we reckon that the way we operate is something of a hybrid, representing the very best of both the traditional and fee-share firms. By that, I mean that we offer the autonomy of the fee-sharing model together with a strategic approach to recruitment, approach to quality and infrastructure more associated with traditional firms. Bexley Beaumont is not a platform firm but a boutique law firm with a very clear identity and focus on talent, support, team culture and collaboration. Our structure also presents the opportunity to enjoy substantially greater financial rewards without the same sort of targets set by traditional firms.
From a recruitment perspective, I know that deciding to leave private practice and become a consultant can be more difficult than a move to another traditional firm. Would you agree?
AB: I do. In my experience, there are perceptions about salaries at traditional firms as offering a sense of security. However, I would say that there is no greater security than taking control of your own career. For someone who is self-motivated, our structure provides the ideal way to do just that. I know that lawyers contemplating this kind of move might take more time to be sure that clients and work will follow. It often comes as a surprise to those who do join us to find that in addition to being able to determine their own direction, they actually have more time to concentrate on looking after their clients. We have a very effective central support team which can be a great reassurance and certainly helps make the process of transition easier.
How else do you support candidates wanting to make this type of move but who might lack the confidence or self-belief to do it?
KB: For a start, Anna and I both talk to all potential Bexley Beaumont partners and associates. It provides an opportunity for them to interview us as well and ask about how it all works in practice and the plans for the future. We also arrange for them to speak with at least one other lawyer at Bexley Beaumont. Those conversations are often more powerful than what Anna and I might say in setting out the merits of the firm. We have also invited potential partners to some of our events, so that they can meet other members of the team before they make the decision to join. Away from an interview environment they often get a better sense of the culture which is so important to us. In this kind of relaxed setting, they can talk with individuals who might have had exactly the same thoughts before making the move themselves. We also think that it’s sensible to consider the numbers. Considering what they need to bill to have the same take-home pay is always a very positive discussion! I made the move from an international law firm to becoming a fee-share consultant so I can also offer my firsthand experience of how the journey worked for me and my clients.
We are sat here in Birmingham. You already have offices in both Manchester and London. Could you see Bexley Beaumont opening another base in this city or, say, the East Midlands?
AB: We are driven by a team culture, so it is only natural to consider further locations in additional places as we grow. Like everything else, that is a process which will be led by the lawyers at Bexley Beaumont. All Bexley Beaumont lawyers have access to meeting rooms across the country. That was in direct response to feedback from our partners and is typical of the way that Karen and I respond to the monthly discussions which we have with them. We leave each of those update sessions with a clear idea of what needs to be done to support partners and their clients.
After another exciting year of hires, growth and awards, what can we expect to see in our LinkedIn news feeds in 2024?
KB: We are arranging our charitable and fundraising initiatives slightly differently in 2024, so you will see team members raising money together through their hobbies or interests. We have started the lengthy but extremely helpful process to become a B-Corp, further demonstrating our commitment to our ESG Framework. We will mature, develop and evolve all aspects of Bexley Beaumont, doing the right things for the right reasons in the right way. We are excited to launch the BBFoundation next year and also a structured personal development programme both of which the lawyers can choose to be part of. We hope to continue to attract top talent right across the UK, expanding our client offering and, in particular, strengthening our presence in Birmingham and London. Our central support team will also expand with further hires to underpin that process. Most importantly, we are looking forward to seeing what we can achieve together in 2024!