Before we set out to build gunnercooke, we spoke to over 50 CEOs, FDs, financiers and heads of legal and asked them, first of all, what they would do if they were setting up a new commercial law firm. How to design a firm around what was best for the client but also what was best for the lawyers who worked in it. It was amazing how closely those ambitions came together.
The responses to this question helped us to build our model.
Firstly, we were told that the greatest value was from the involvement of experienced lawyers or ‘partners’. It was the experience of those lawyers that delivered the most value and when work was passed to a more junior lawyer this value was often lost. Our response was to only recruit lawyers with 10,000 hours of experience – often referred to as the number of hours practice it takes to become an expert at something. Of course, it isn’t solely the number of hours that are important but what you do with those hours. Our view is that our lawyers should all become trusted advisers. They deliver wisdom. Wisdom is a combination of knowledge, experience and common sense – and it is with this outlook that we aim to recruit the best lawyers into gunnercooke, to guide and support our clients.
Secondly, we discussed the charging model. Surprisingly, clients did not complain about the size of fees, but in fact their main concern was the lack of certainty around fees and that a quote from a lawyer is rarely consistent with the final bill. In a business where there are budget tensions and demands on the purse strings this makes financial planning very difficult. Our response was not to run our business on time recording. gunnercooke lawyers are not measured by hourly billing targets and they are free to fix fees at the outset of a matter (which we strongly encourage). There are certain situations where time recording is necessary or requested by the client – though the important factor is for our lawyers to give certainty over costs and to work closely with their client to manage the budget without nasty surprises or a rolling clock.
Finally, and most surprising of all, we were told that lawyers were the least commercial of professional services advisers. In context we were told that whilst they were very good at what they did, they operated in a very narrow remit and rarely understood the needs of a business. When advising businesses, it is crucial that you understand how business operates. Our response was to ensure that our lawyers would have a much more direct financial benefit from the rewards of their work. gunnercooke lawyers are remunerated directly according to the completion of work for clients. If they’re not working, they do not get paid. If they are not efficient, strong communicators, good at project management, on top of their client service, they do not get paid. As a result, this makes all gunnercooke lawyers totally aligned with the aims and ambitions of their clients.