14th September 2023
Writing for The Business Exchange, which is celebrating a decade in print, Thrings Managing Partner Simon Holdsworth answers questions about the firm over the past 10 years.
As it happens 2023 marks ten years in in my role as Managing Partner. In that time the firm has successfully extended its geographical reach with new offices in Hampshire and more recently in the Wye and Severn Valleys. We are also continuing to cultivate the services we offer and the areas of law we have expertise in and are proud to be able to support our clients, both through the lifecycle of a business and at all the important points through their lifetime. Most recently, this has seen us develop and strengthen practices across fields such as clean energy and tech investment. What has been particularly gratifying to see is how people have forged their long-term futures with the firm – a number of junior lawyers in 2013 have gone on to become partners and are now bringing on the next generation of partners. This approach has helped to give the business a real sense of long-term stability – focusing on evolution rather than revolution.
In a very crowded legal market, it is all about how you differentiate what you do and how you do it. Understanding what our clients truly want from us as a firm has always been a major priority and this has never been more prevalent than when we undertook our “Different Way of Looking” project. By looking at everything we do from the other end of the telescope to take the clients’ perspective, we underwent a near complete restructuring of the firm to deliver a more holistic service through our sector focus. This concerted focus on those markets where we feel that we have a strong reputation for understanding the relevant industry has helped us in tailoring legal advice to the needs of our clients.
Every deal is a key to our clients and we’re proud of the work we have done within the SME market to enable all businesses to grow and be successful. Over the years we have had a number of significant transactions for big £100M+ companies and have worked with organisations such as Truespeed and Lovehoney from their infancy to becoming household names.
Much of the last 10 years could be perceived as being turbulent – from the outcome of the Brexit referendum to COVID and more recently the profound impact of the war in Ukraine and the cost of living crisis. It has been a significant period of uncertainty but consequently we have become more comfortable with change as we learnt to be nimbler in our decision making and as flexible for staff and clients as possible.
We would like to think that we’ve always had a strong culture – a positive place to work with good people who care about each other as well as their clients, regardless of department, team or office. What has evolved is undoubtedly the way in which people work – more flexibility and more trust has allowed people to feel more empowered in their roles and more encouraged to show appreciation and consideration for those around them, valuing working as part of a team as well as achievement both personally and collectively. We have continued to focus over the past year on further developing and enhancing our staff in ways that benefit their personal and professional growth. This has included
enhanced training on equality and diversity, nurturing our junior staff to reach their potential alongside their peers and developing a strong and diverse internal comms culture.
It would be wrong to single out particular individuals. We want everyone at the firm to feel that they can contribute more than just their jobs – that discretionary energy that helps the business move forwards, naturally. Over the last few years we have focused more time and resources on developing our people and consequently we have seen more internal promotions over the last three years culminating in a record number of applicants this year.
There are always unknowns around the corner and sometimes plans have to change. We’re focusing on steady, incremental growth – we don’t feel the need to double in size. We want to continue to provide the trusted advisor service that our clients are used to so our business practices have to remain sustainable and not at the expense of our service proposition.
Be comfortable with change – positive steps forward can come out of the biggest challenges. And the more you empower and trust people the bigger the return you’ll get.
I fully hope and expect that the firm will continue to go from strength to strength. While there will be changes in the way that legal work is produced (especially with advances in technology and AI) we feel that there will still be a place for industry focused, emotionally intelligent legal advisors. With a generation of younger partners who are just starting out on their time as leaders the future will be very much in their hands.