Nice place to work
We are based in North Norfolk, the coastline for which is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Both of our offices (Fakenham and Holt) are within a 15 minute drive to the beach. Both towns themselves are lovely places to live and work, with Holt in particular being a popular shopping and tourist destination. We plan to base ourselves in North Norfolk forever.
Our offices in Fakenham and Holt provide for lawyers to work in their own room. Occasionally two lawyers will share a room. We find this kind of layout is much better than open-plan offices, partly because it creates a quieter working environment, and partly because our lawyers can go see each other to talk through their work without disturbing too many others. Our lawyers probably chat to each other socially too, which we don’t mind.
We try to encourage everyone to work from the office post-Covid19 (the main reason being that we just like to see everyone again), though some of our lawyers work better at home and some need a bit of flexibility to accommodate things like childcare. We are happy with that, and so long as the arrangement works for everyone we will go with it.
The existing lawyers are currently a healthy mix of people who trained at the firm, trained at other regional firms or trained at large city firms. We have historically been (and still are) picky about the lawyers we recruit, and as a result everyone at the firm is well-respected and knowledgeable.
Good reputation and clients
Given the calibre of the lawyers we have recruited over the years, we now have a very loyal client-base and an excellent reputation locally. We also have some very good clients from elsewhere in the country.
Our private-client team, for example, routinely acts for estates with a value of £1m+, our commercial and commercial property teams act for a variety of businesses, our residential property team routinely deals with properties that are worth £1m+, our litigation team regularly deals with major high court disputes and our family team deals with complex financial settlements, often involving foreign property and high net worth individuals. Across the firm we act for a lot of the local estates, farms and developers. For our clients, there is no need to go further afield for their legal services.
We have what we think might be one of the most generous discretionary bonus schemes in Norfolk (and perhaps beyond).
Relatively relaxed targets
We like our lawyers to meet target, and we don’t want them to be working evenings and weekends to do so. Realistic targets are part of what makes our bonus scheme so attractive.
Healthy work-life balance
We would much prefer that everyone works their contracted hours, and no more, and does not work weekends at all. Indeed, many of our lawyers live by those rules, and we have a culture that encourages it. We find that our clients usually prefer it that way too. Occasionally, if there is a deadline to meet, we will allow our lawyers to work late if they feel appropriate but it is the exception, not the rule.
We give a minimum of 25 days holiday (pro rata if part time) to all staff, which increases to 27 days for associates and 30 days for salaried partners (plus bank holidays). Importantly, we encourage our staff to take all of that holiday and to not work during their holidays. Some of our lawyers do not take their smartphone with them, and don’t check their emails until they get back (we find that some, though, just can’t resist). We have enough confidence in our respective teams that all of our clients and matters will be properly dealt with whilst we are away.
We also close the office over Christmas and New Year and give an extra day or two of holiday to our staff in order to do so.
Training and development
It should go without saying that we will pay for continuing development courses as required.
In some cases, we will pay for more substantial development. We have legal executives at various stages of their career, we usually have at least one trainee solicitor and we additionally pay for some lawyers to go through additional training, such as training to become a Fellow of the Agricultural Law Association or the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists.
We are keen to ensure that our lawyers can provide the very best service to our clients.
Good lawyers at the firm quickly progress to associate and senior associate.
For those who want to get involved in the management of the business, and are able to demonstrate exceptional ability and effort, partnership prospects are very much available. Our current partnership has an average age of close to 40.
Diverse and inclusive
78% of our lawyers are female. 60% of our equity partners are female.
Salary and benefits
Salaries are competitive, at least locally. We don’t pay less than others just because we have a better work-life balance, achievable targets and a nice place to work. Indeed, including bonuses, our lawyers are often paid more than their peers across the county.
We also offer the kinds of benefits that other firms offer, including death-in-service benefits, a fair sickness leave policy, a pension scheme, referral incentive scheme for all staff, staff discount scheme and regular social events.
We also pay for many of our lawyers to have a North Norfolk parking pass, which gives free parking at almost all car parks in North Norfolk (including Fakenham and Holt, where our offices are, but also including car parks in Wells, Sheringham, Cromer, etc). We do not restrict that pass to business use.