Edinburgh and Glasgow-based Law At Work (LAW) has vowed to clean up in employment law south of the border as it targets expansion in London.
The firm, which also specialises in workplace health and safety, says it’s firing a warning shot over the bow of lazy London law firms as it plans to grow its client base in the UK capital.
LAW, which has steadily grown its income year-on-year since its management buy-out in 2012 by challenging traditional billing and service models, says it’s targeting larger businesses as it looks to further grow its London market share.
It already works with a number of significant London-based brands including dance brand Pineapple Studios, Alpha Plus Group, feelunique.com, and the British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL).
The company is also celebrating its first anniversary with one of the world’s largest independent facilities management firm client, City Refrigeration Holdings PLC.
It breaks the mould of traditional legal firm billing by guaranteeing a flexible, all-inclusive fixed-price service, which is underpinned by an insurance indemnity that picks up legal defence costs and nearly all employment tribunal awards.
Unlike fixed-fee firms, LAW’s client base has access to a named employment lawyer for their account and access to the wider team of fully qualified staff ensuring a quality and responsive service.
Jane Wright, LAW chief executive, said: “We are pleased to be winning most of our business from traditional legal firms.
“Business owners no longer want to be billed for every six minutes spent thinking about their case; they want and need access to quality advice, with a strong commercial focus and delivered quickly.
“Our business model is attractive to a wide range of businesses, from SMEs to PLCs, as it enables them to better plan budgets without losing access to high-quality legal professionals.
“LAW provides everything you expect from a top law firm, but at a fixed and all-inclusive fee, and in a personal, friendly way.”
As firms increasingly seek to outsource HR (human resources) and health and safety to better manage costs, LAW has grown its customers base to now service more than 300 retained clients throughout the UK across every sector.
Wright added: “The fee structure at a traditional law firm of paying by the hour may work well for large corporate transactions, but it drives the wrong behaviours for routine risk management around staffing and safety issues.
“The client calls in the lawyer at the very last minute to keep the fee low, and the lawyer has no incentive to carry out the work quickly.
“At LAW we drive very different behaviours in our staff. By rewarding proactive and timely attendance to client requirements, we find that clients engage with their team at LAW earlier and, in the vast majority of cases, this helps us resolve any potential issues before they develop.
“This proactive approach, coupled with direct access to qualified staff, means that LAW’s clients are not only compliant with all necessary legislation but have more efficient processes, which equals happy clients.
“Our recent annual client survey told us that nearly 80% believe they get a better, more responsive service from LAW, than they did when they previously used a law firm for their employment law needs.
“This innovative way of working is producing solid financials for the growing outfit. LAW’s last financial figures showed a third continuous year of growth, income is up by 3.5% year-on-year to £2.2m in the financial year 2015/2016 whilst pre-tax profits remained steady.
“The numbers come following a year of intense investment including a bespoke IT infrastructure which will benefit LAW’s clients and with the expansion into larger premises in central Edinburgh to accommodate a growing head count, now at 33 across both offices.
“Last year, we focused in investing in our systems and people ahead of our push this year to grow our market share.
“We wanted to be in a solid place to be able to deliver our award-winning customer service in line with our growing UK-wide footprint.
“It’s clear that businesses want the high levels of service and expertise that traditional law firms used to provide, but for an all-inclusive fee.
“This isn’t just true in Scotland, but across the UK and across business sizes – from SMEs to PLCs.
“We are seeing a growth in all our service offerings – businesses increasingly turn to us to provide solid and dependable employment law advice, to support their internal HR resources and ensure that they comply with all current and future health & safety regulations.”
LAW chairman Magnus Swanson added: “Fixed-fee pricing is no longer just aimed at SMEs. Obtaining high quality legal and health and safety support, on an all-inclusive fee basis, has seen us increasingly attract clients from larger, even PLC level, businesses.
“Our unique customer-centric attitude, coupled with staff who are experts in their field, has also struck a chord with businesses in London and the south, and growing our footprint there in the next financial year, both with clients and also by acquiring suitable businesses, will remain a key priority for the business.”