What do you currently do?
I am the Managing Partner of Blacks Solicitors LLP, a 15 partner law firm based in Leeds. We provide a wide range of business, property and personal services to owner managed businesses and private clients. I have worked for Blacks since 1994 and became Managing Partner in April 2008. In October 2011 I was delighted to be named ‘Managing Partner of the Year’ at the Yorkshire lawyer Awards.
As a dynamic firm which continually evolves, I’ve played a key role in expanding the business and looking for new services and sectors where Blacks can offers its expertise. Only last year we launched our Music, Media and Entertainment (MME) department – a team of experts offering legal support to bands, musicians, managers, record labels, television personalities and others working in the MME sector.
What is your inspiration in business?
The best thing about my role is the fact I meet and deal with lots of people week in, week out. Everyone is different and that variety makes my job both interesting and inspiring.
Of course, I am also driven by a desire to succeed and to continue the groundwork established by my former partners over the last 20 years.
Who do you admire?
My father instilled a strong work ethic in me that has stood me in good stead throughout my career to date. On a day-to-day basis, I admire any business owner who is willing to drive on through this recession, especially if they can keep a smile on their face at the same time!
Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
I wish I had spent more of my time as a newly qualified solicitor networking with my peers. This is something I really got into once I became a partner in 1997 and has been both beneficial and enjoyable ever since.
I suspect I missed a few opportunities in those early years mainly due to a lack of confidence. It’s not a huge regret but certainly something I would do differently; I now encourage all our recruits to network from the day they join the firm.
What defines your way of doing business?
I feel we are the ‘go to’ law firm in the region due to our approach to every client we work for. The team is straight talking and transparent throughout – we pride ourselves on being responsive to client needs, delivering trusted expertise and, in most cases, doing it all with a smile on our faces!
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
I have three pieces of advice for aspiring solicitors:
1) Get into the habit now of ringing your clients back promptly. That is how most clients will judge your quality of service; they will take it as a given that you can deliver the advice.
2) Don’t believe your own hype. You are working in a service industry so don’t forget who the customer is.
3) Dress smartly and wear a tie under that collar!