SG: To start, for those that might not know very much about Bexley, Beaumont, what makes you different to other boutique law firms out there?
KB: Well, our unique structure and proposition allow us to attract the very best talent. This allows us to focus on quality support and team culture and work collaboratively together. We have been described as the best of both worlds and we couldn’t have said it better ourselves because we really do bring together the best elements of the traditional law firm and the best elements of the fee-share firm in a strong culture of working together in collaboration. Our model means that our lawyers always have control and autonomy, but within Bexley, Beaumont, it’s more than that. They get their support and the rest of the team, the lawyers, the essential support team and help work together to form the boutique law firm that is Bexley Beaumont. One of our values that’s often underrated is enjoyment and we love to have fun together. We love to celebrate together. We really do share successes and bring the team together to feel part of something and get to know each other and trust each other and work together.
There are also lots of opportunities to have a say in the voice of Bexley Beaumont. We share what our plans are, we share our initiatives, we share our vision and everyone in the team gets a chance to be part of that and have their say and share their views and their vision. So it really is a supportive and collaborative environment.
SG: It’s so important all of that stuff isn’t it? You know there’s the there’s the progression element and and the business side of things, but work is also where we spend a lot of our time. So to be working within a team that’s so collaborative and as you say shares in each other’s successes, I imagine makes it a really good place to work.
Since setting up the firm in 2020, you and your Co-director Anna are being very careful to grow the business sustainably. What do you look for in a potential Bexley Beaumont lawyer? Are there certain personality traits or characteristics that you would look for?
KB: We have a real strategic approach to who joins the Bexley Beaumont team. First and foremost is cultural fit. All Bexley Beaumont lawyers have a willingness and desire to be part of a team. We tell people what’s expected; they have to want to be part of that inclusive and collaborative team environment, they have to have a desire and willingness to get to know each other, to work together, to support each other and support each other’s clients together.
Our unique proposition and our boutique culture allow us to attract that top talent and that top talent wants to work together, they want to be together. We have no desire to be the largest firm by the number of partners, so we do have that sustainable strategic approach to who joins Bexley Beaumont. What we want to be known for focusing on, is that niche, that quality, and providing a superior level of support to all the lawyers within the team, either by the central support team or by the wider team.
SG: So it’s not about being the biggest, but it’s about being the best.
You’ve recently taken on your first solicitor apprentice. Can you tell us a little bit about that and why you feel it’s important for Bexley Beaumont not to just consider lawyers that perhaps have trodden the more traditional routes to qualification?
KB: We’re really passionate about evolving the profession and bringing something different. Bexley Beaumont brings something different to the profession. To create a sustainable and diverse profession going forward, we have to embrace the difference, we have to embrace all the routes into the profession. That allows us all and everyone to have the opportunity to join the profession, so the profession is meaningful and sustainable going forward.
Also at Bexley Beaumont, we’ve got a real focus on talent and on nurturing talent and allowing our lawyers to grow and develop. Why wouldn’t we take full advantage of the talent pool? Why would we limit ourselves in any way when it comes to that talent pool? It’s fair to say that Harry Jenkinson, our current solicitor apprentice is very much a shining example of us taking advantage of the wider talent pool. It’s been fantastic to work with him from being a paralegal through to a solicitor apprentice and to support him on the rest of his journey.
SG: Brilliant. It sounds like he’s thriving and he’s at the right place and that’s great to hear. I think more and more firms are being more open I think to those that are coming from less traditional routes. Firms that aren’t looking at this now are going to have to do so in the future, aren’t they? So it’s great that you’re kind of ahead of that curve.
Similarly, at Realm, we’re really passionate about helping lawyers and legal talent reach their potential within their legal careers and help them get where they want to be. How do you support your lawyers to help further their careers at Bexley Beaumont?
KB: At Bexley Beaumont, we treat all our lawyers individually and we’ve got a real focus on that tailored support. Each lawyer comes to us with different experiences, different backgrounds and are at different stages of their journey. One of the things that we find is most of our lawyers, if not all of them have come from traditional law firms and they’ve been told what success looks like. They’ve been told what good looks like. They’ve been told what their career will look like in a very structured and supportive way. And that’s fantastic, but, at Bexley, Beaumont, they get to set their personal goals. They get to set their own professional goals and decide for themselves what good looks like and our role is to support them in achieving those goals and achieving that professional and personal development. What those goals are will depend on the work type they want to handle, the sector they want to work in, how they want to manage their clients, and essentially what they want to do and what they love.
As part of that, the Bexley Beaumont team is the biggest support. That’s the whole team, there’s central support in the form of the other partners. There’s also a provider, a professional network, there’s coaches. We work with each partner to work out what their success looks like and how we can support them.
SG: Amazing. That tailored and bespoke approach seems obvious doesn’t it, but it’s not the approach that every law firm takes, so that’s really refreshing to hear.
And in terms of your own career development (if that’s the right way to phrase it as the CEO of a law firm!), in 2022 you were elected to the Law Society’s Council to represent women lawyers. Can you tell us a little bit about that and what it is that the council does?
KB: It is part of my development! Anna and I had a vision to create a different type of law firm, to create something different to offer lawyers and clients and bring a change to the profession. The opportunity arose to stand for the Law Society Council and to bring that different type of law firm to a wider voice to represent differences within the profession within the council. It’s fantastic to be able to work with and hear from the council members, which are really diverse. They’re from different types of law firms from all over the country, covering different sectors and different specialisms. I’m really loving the opportunity to get to know and work with that wider council and am also gaining a greater understanding of what the Law Society does and being part of that shaping of the profession going forward. My role is to attend council meetings eventually, you know, be part of committees and be part of the strategic development and policies of the Law Society Council. I’m one of five elected representatives who represent women lawyers, so another part of my role is to ensure that the council represents the diversity we have within our profession.
SG: It’s really interesting to hear, thanks for telling us more about it. It’s really great that that exists and that you’re an ambassador for women working in the legal sector.
As a fee-share firm, Bexley Beaumont has that alternative business structure and offers the legal market something a little bit different as an employer. Do you think that this helps create a more inclusive culture at the firm?
KB: Yes. Our structure has all the benefits and all the opportunities we could afford to everyone and they’re all afforded to everyone equally. Everyone gets that opportunity, everyone gets that control and they get to choose where they work, how they work, who they work for, doing the work they love. And that allows them to fit their work around life, it’s not separate from work.
Everyone has different commitments, different priorities and different ambitions but at Bexley Beaumont, control is more than that. Control is more about than how you work and when they work, it’s our ambitious lawyers who set their objectives, set their goals and get that development personally and professionally again to suit what works for them and that really inclusive way of what works for them and what they want good looks like to them. I mean fundamentally they get to be the lawyers they want to be and they get to do the work they love with the clients they love to work for. So it is fair to say, you know, it is a fully inclusive and supportive environment where the same opportunities are afforded to everyone but the model and Bexley Beaumont itself can break down some of those perceived barriers that have traditionally been there in the profession for some that can make the profession less diverse.
SG: Absolutely. I guess it’s that flexibility, isn’t it, that caters to the modern lawyer and the modern family with a modern personal life going on in the background.
KB: Yeah. And just you know the lawyers want to work they want to grow their ambitions but they want to do it in a way that suits them. They want to do the work they love without any sort of traditional structure of progression or talks about what what what success looks like. They get to choose what success looks like for them. Our lawyers are all ambitious, they all are hard-working and they all want to do the best for their clients and support each other. But they get to do that in a way that helps them achieve their ambitions rather than set ambitions.
SG: Yes absolutely, so choice and freedom. And the model’s working because you guys have been recognised now you know by loads of regional and national award bodies. So Bexley Beaumont has been shortlisted at The British Legal Awards, The Lawyer Awards and won recently at The Legal 500 Northern Powerhouse Awards. So you know you’re you guys are being celebrated left, right and centre for what you’re doing. What does it mean to you in the firm to be recognised externally by these bodies and organisations?
KB: We know Bexley Beaumont has quality, talented lawyers. so you know it is a testament to everyone in the team and ultimately the clients as well who support the Bexley Beaumont team. It was a particularly special moment for everyone when we were awarded the award for Legal 500 Boutique Law Firm of the Year. The comments as we accepted the award on the night included that we have a progressive culture and are further innovating the fee-share model and we couldn’t say it better than ourselves, so we’ll take that one! But, in all seriousness, to have external respect and credibility does mean a lot to everybody, particularly when we’re pushing boundaries, we’re doing something different. We know how fantastic the Bexley Beaumont team is, so it’s fantastic to have this external credibility of that team. And as I mentioned, we love celebrating and sharing successes, so any opportunity to get together and come together as a team and celebrate with everyone within the team is fantastic.
SG: Absolutely, pop the champagne cork and give yourself a pat on the back for sure. Brilliant. It’s been absolutely lovely talking to you today Karen, and finding out more about Bexley Beaumont and who the right lawyers are for you and who you’ll be the right firm for. So thank you very much for joining us, we wish Bexley Beaumont every success and I’m sure the next 12 months are just going to be just as bright as the last.
KB: Thank you. Thank you for your support. I appreciate it and your time today. It’s great to meet you.