Partners share reflections after a decade at gunnercooke

October 28, 2022

As gunnercooke celebrates its 12th birthday, partners who took a leap of faith to join the firm in its early years are reaching their own milestone anniversary of 10 years.

We caught up with four of these founding partners as they share reflections on how their lives, the firm and the industry have changed over the past decade, and their advice for those who are thinking about how gunnercooke could help them build a successful practice.

From a challenger firm changing the way legal services are delivered, to an award-winning market leader in corporate professional services, gunnercooke has quickly become the firm of choice for ambitious lawyers and consultants who want to grow a business and work collaboratively with a global network of talented advisors.

Jo Glass

Jo Glass is a Corporate Partner based in Manchester and was the eighth lawyer to join the firm in 2012. “Notwithstanding Sarah Goulbourne’s enthusiasm and Darryl Cooke’s optimism, I had little idea as to how my practice would develop or what support I would receive.”

“However, from the very start, the ethos of the firm was apparent to all the early starters and the enthusiasm encouraged everybody, and certainly me, to roll sleeves up and put everything into the development of my practice and the servicing and growth of my client base.”

Jo would go as far to suggest he would not still be in practice if he had not joined gunnercooke, having “the freedom from all of the restrictions (and headaches) of being a partner in a traditional practice.”

gunnercooke has grown from 8 to over 400 during Jo’s decade at the firm. “Obviously we’ve changed in numbers but by the nature of the structure we haven’t changed much. From the very early days it was clear that there was always going to be the highest level of back-office support and that has improved and not been diluted by growth.”

He shares his words of wisdom for those considering a move; “make sure that you are joining for the right reasons and that you have the ability to maintain and grow your own client base. You will get support from others, but you should not rely on it.”

Sofia Jorgensen corporate lawyer at gunnercooke

Corporate Partner Sofia Jorgensen was the first person to join gunnercooke in London 10 years ago. Joining a challenger firm in its infancy was always going to be risk. “Let’s just say the gamble paid off!” says Sofia.

“gunnercooke has changed in too many ways to mention, but the flexible and collegiate ethos has always been there. My favourite thing about this firm is my fellow partners and my team; working collaboratively is part of the DNA of my practice.”

She has her eyes set on the next 10 years at the firm too; “I want to continue to grow and support my team, to create value for those working on deals, and deliver more successful transactions to our valued clients.”

For those thinking about taking the leap, Sofia advises: “This is everything you could want from a career and more.”

Robert Ashworth, Manchester Property Partner, summarises the journey as “from big firm intrigue to high plains freedom!

“gunnercooke has changed from a concept to a reality of an unrivalled body of legal knowledge and experience that can turn its skilled hands to even the largest of corporate tasks. In our network there’s a trusted body of people who can help with any matter where I need a team.”

A change from the traditional firm was the biggest appeal for Robert; “no time sheets, targets or KPIs… just your own objectives set within an environment of executing your professional duty to your clients’ needs.”

“In the coming years I will now be able to retire gently and handover my clients to trusted colleagues in the knowledge this will continue to earn me an income from those inductions – a sort of second pension!”

When asked what advice he’d share with new partners to make a success at gunnercooke, he suggests: “have your own foundation of clients to work off and then interact their needs with the wide skill base available to you here.”

Helen Rooney, Manchester-based Litigation Partner, initially joined the firm as Legal Counsel. At first, she wondered whether she had made the right choice. “In the first week, I took over an ongoing matter from another law firm which was not far from a trial date. Ten boxes of level arch files arrived. I just rocked up with my laptop! (We didn’t have the same level of support during onboarding that partners enjoy now.) A paralegal and I worked late into the night preparing trial bundles.

“That being said, I had no regrets even in those early days. We were a small, close knit, bunch in Manchester then – most of us came into the office every day – it was a lot of fun. “

Helen has seen the firm’s growth first-hand as new colleagues have joined from almost every practice area, sector and expertise possible: “The firm has gone from strength to strength and is a force to be reckoned with. Now, there are so many more opportunities for networking and expanding your practice. There is hardly any query which cannot be dealt with by the wealth of experience which now exists.  And I have made some fantastic colleagues and friends along the way.

Flexibility was one of the biggest appeals to Helen and still benefits her way of working greatly.  “I love the autonomy which gunnercooke gives me.  I can structure my working week in a way which is best for me.  I work to my own targets, no one else’s and am even brave enough now to turn work down if the work or client is not a good fit.

It’s even given her time to do things for herself that she couldn’t have even considered at a traditional firm: “gunnercooke has allowed me the opportunity to take time to volunteer at my children’s school, helping children to read, as well as recently taking on the role of Governor.”

Helen also has clear advice for those joining the firm. “Don’t panic!”

“It is daunting moving from traditional private practice with the initial anxiety of an irregular salary and leaving a tried-and-tested model behind, but I wouldn’t, and probably couldn’t, go back now! 

“I am a firm believer that all will be well and new partners should have the confidence to trust in their own abilities and experience. Take the help and support which is available, use your colleagues as a sounding board as we are all in the same position and no one will judge you. Remember to work on the business as well as in it (something which I am still guilty of not doing).  Above all, enjoy the moment! “

Thinking of joining gunnercooke? Find out more on our Join Us page or get in touch with Head of Recruitment, Chris Ball, to discuss how we could work together.