“Breaking the Glass Ceiling” … What ceiling?
Clare Travers spoke with Anna Beaumont and Karen Bexley about breaking with tradition and their exciting new venture, Bexley Beaumont.
We love to hear about new and innovative law firms, so we were excited to interview Anna and Karen to learn more about them and their firm.
Formed in 2020, Bexley Beaumont have a vision to create a boutique law firm of exceptional quality and talent. Founders, Karen and Anna believe success is achieved by true collaboration and they work as one team to grow Bexley Beaumont with transparency and honesty.
Over the last 2 years, we’ve seen a significant rise in strong influential female Lawyers, what inspired you both to pursue a career in law?
Anna: I most definitely fell into law. I finished my medical sciences degree but in the last year I decided I didn’t want to follow that route for a career, so I spent many hours/days researching careers and courses in the library at the University of Birmingham. I came across the PGDL course and decided to give it a go!
Karen: I decided at a young age I wanted to be a lawyer and never changed my mind. As I child I was told that I always had an answer for everything and that I should be arguing in a courtroom! My dad was a trained printer and spent his career managing factories. He was made redundant a couple of times in the 90s recession and frequently told me he thought having a profession such as lawyer or accountant was a more stable career choice.
Tell us more about the Bexley Beaumont story, how did it all begin?
Anna: We both were looking to join a law firm which would work for us and our clients and whilst there are many great law firms, we just couldn’t find a firm which suited us, so we decided to create one! We had a clear vision of what we wanted to achieve and how it would be structured to benefit both clients and lawyers. Plus, if you have ever spent time with Karen you will know that her personality and zest for life is infectious, so I found the perfect person to be a friend with and a business partner also. We combine both pretty well and we even have a laugh along the way, long may that continue. Enjoyment is one of our core values.
Karen: As Anna said it evolved from us both thinking we can’t be the only people who are struggling to find a law firm that suits them. I had previously thought of setting up a law firm but didn’t have the full range of experience or desire to do it on my own. With Anna I found the perfect person to do it with. She is a fantastic experienced business leader with so much drive and ambition. Anna and I are great friends and a total balance to each other. Her previous experience is invaluable to the running of our firm as is our ability to be totally honest with each other.
Bexley Beaumont is blurring the lines between your traditional firms’ structure; how does it compare working with this kind of innovation?
Anna: We are creating a boutique law firm of exceptional talent. We are challenging not only some of the traditional law firms but also some of the fee share models that have been formed over the last few years. We are both hugely passionate about offering a different way of working, we encourage freedom and flexibility and the lawyers can work in a way which best suits them and their clients. However, most lawyers still want to feel part of a firm so at Bexley Beaumont we nurture and encourage a team environment and team culture. Our lawyers still feel part of a firm and we regularly hold socials and events, we are ambitious and committed to growing but we will always remain a boutique and we are focused on quality and providing excellent client service.
Karen: We are adapting to the changing needs of society. Clients and lawyers both want to do things differently. Technology allows us to connect with each other and clients so easily but also sometimes means that physically people aren’t connected. We believe in building trusted relationships with each other and our clients, so we prioritise aspects that are important to those relationships. Our lawyers are able to use their flexibility to strengthen client relationships by spending time with them at their premises and understanding their businesses or alternatively they have time to manage their work and personal life, so they never miss an important family event.
What is your favourite thing about being part of the Bexley Beaumont family?
Anna: Wine Wednesdays!.... Honestly, I love the fact we are creating a genuinely lovely team culture where we work with likeminded colleagues who all want each other to succeed and who help each other. We have ambition, passion and drive as a team and we also have fun and show kindness - kindness is contagious.
Karen: The energy and passion we all have and watching that develop in the new members of our family. We love it when our Partners come to us with ideas for initiatives or suggestions on how they do things. We genuinely believe that together as a family we can help Bexley Beaumont grow. I also love the fun and wine we have along the way!
Where do you see the firm in 5 years’ time? What areas of growth would you like to see?
Anna: 40 Partners based out of the Manchester Office providing a full servicing offering to our clients and maybe 20/30 partners in our London office doing the same. We also have some exciting news to come about our General Counsel offering and how we are looking to work with in-house lawyers and teams - we have a plan to implement a product which we believe no one else is offering right now which is hugely exciting. Would love to see this developed and working well in 5 years’ time. And I hope that someone else sets up a slightly different model law firm to us and pushes the boundaries again in the legal sector by creating a different offering – this will challenge us which is good - I love it when people and firms try different models as it’s the only way we will continue to create innovation in the sector.
Karen: Anna and I share the same plans for growth, so her reply covers it. I want to see growth in the legal community as a whole with lawyers being proud of themselves and our profession.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself as a former Trainee Lawyer and do you have any pointers for the 2020 qualifiers?
Anna: Not sure you can print them! Keep smiling, laughter is infectious, don’t take yourself too seriously, it can be tough yes but it’s a fabulous career and it can lead to so many opportunities, oh and you don’t need to drink so much Anna before you even get to a black tie event! Say yes to opportunities, you can figure out how you do the job later! Perhaps not the time to say I’ve definitely done that in the past! Who knows where those opportunities will take you, and if someone else thinks you can do it, then be brave and go for it! Enjoy life, be kind, we are all just trying to do our best and smile every day!
Karen: I would tell myself not to take myself too seriously and back myself more. Unlike Anna, I didn’t drink much at black tie dos and missed out on some fun along the way! I wouldn’t change my journey as it has made me who I am, but I wish I had backed myself earlier in my career. The decision to become a consultant 7 years ago was the best decision I ever made.
For 2020 qualifiers, I would say believe in yourself and be proud to be a lawyer. AI will change your role more than it has since I was a trainee but focus on your relationships as AI can’t build them.
As a lawyer said to me the other day, I have lost my mojo. Unfortunately too many people in our profession have lost their mojos, so if you think you have lost yours do something to find it again- whether that is changing firms, changing practice areas, going in house, becoming a consultant… something before you give up on the profession you have worked so hard to join.
We conducted this interview before the Government put the present restrictions in place to counter Covid 19. I think we can all agree now that a business model such as BB will surely become more and more popular.