Walking into a ready-made referral network

February 6, 2023
Simon Williams


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Simon Williams is a Corporate and Commercial Partner with around 20 years’ experience.

Like many of gunnercooke’s Partners, his previous role was at a traditional law firm where he found his needs in terms of a career and ambitions were not being met.

Simon found that joining gunnercooke meant he could create a practice with an established referral network that was quick to deliver growth opportunities for his business.

Here he discusses how he grew his practice rapidly within his first few months and why he’s never looked back.

The times they are a-changin’

gunnercooke’s consultancy model allows Partners to thrive in an environment where they are provided with strategic, operational and administrative support, yet can run their own practice as they wish.

They have the autonomy to choose when and how they work, and in a culture that doesn’t measure success based on profits per partner ratios.

Simon explains why he thinks gunnercooke is the future of law.

“I worked at a traditional law firm in the North West, and I could see the legal landscape changing. I had two options… let the environment control me…or control my environment.

“I wanted to be part of something more exciting, something bigger. Effectively be able to plug in and play, not be bogged down and pulled back by lots of trivial management considerations and issues.

“One of the key things was being able to add value to clients, innovate and spend more time with them. I think that’s a lot more difficult in a traditional firm.

“That was probably my key driver for moving over to gunnercooke. I haven’t looked back since.”

Immediate referrals

It’s not uncommon for those considering joining gunnercooke to have some questions and concerns around whether they can make the leap and start building their own business.

But most Partners at the firm highlight that, despite those initial concerns, they really wish they’d joined us sooner.

Central to this is how the internal referral network and strong networking opportunities support new Partners.

“I cannot emphasise enough what a fantastic experience I’ve had with other Partners making referrals. I was passed a large share deal a few weeks after joining and immediately saw the value the internal market brings to your practice, and what you can do for others too.

“The biggest new business opportunity is forging a network with colleagues in different practice areas, across the UK and internationally. Coupled with your external third-party referees, it really makes for a tasty symbiotic pie.

“gunnercooke’s networking opportunities are endless and they’ve actively encouraged myself and my team to get to know other Partners.

“It works both ways too. As soon as I joined, I had some work that wasn’t my discipline so I reached out to gunnercooke and they introduced me to a number of different Partners who it would be suitable for. I was able to share that work with them and develop that relationship.

“Everyone understands ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’.”

Scaling up to meet your needs

Each Partner joins gunnercooke for their own reasons and with different aspirations and goals. Some want to operate on an individual basis. Others like Simon create a team to scale.

The decision and approach are entirely in the hand of our Partners. They decide what suits them and can adapt their strategy and approach to suit changing aspirations or life circumstances.

For Simon, he needed to scale after only four months.

“I’ve found everyone has a different gunnercooke journey, but for me my ambition is to grow a renowned niche corporate and commercial practice operating from the North West.

“I knew I wanted to build something bigger that I was proud of, and about four months into joining I realised that I was getting incredibly busy. This involved working very late, which was not why I established my own practice. I needed to bring somebody in.

“Despite having a number of offers from national traditional firms on the table, Alex Connah joined me as an associate.

“He joined because he could have the best of both worlds…joining a niche corporate commercial law practice but with the infrastructure behind him to support success. It’s like a firm within a firm. I know he’s extremely happy.”

Building the foundations

Simon’s practice continues to go from strength to strength. He has a clear vision for how entrepreneurial lawyers can scale their practice in gunnercooke.

“Sometimes you need to take a step back and look at where you are in relation to your business plan and use that as a marker for how you get to the next stage within your desired timeframe.

“I you’re looking to grow your practice, you’re busy and you back yourself…then it’s a question of when you make your hires.

“You need to do careful due diligence on bringing in the right people who match your ethos, morals and values.

“And they must have similar traits in terms of work ethic and being bright and good at their job. Fundamentally they must want to go on a similar journey to you. That, for me, is vitally important.”