Before establishing ground-breaking law firm gunnercooke in 2010, founders Darryl Cooke and Sarah Goulbourne met with over 50 CEOs and Financial Directors to gauge exactly what was missing from legal services. The top two answers by far were that clients wanted service delivered by experienced, expert lawyers, and much greater certainty on pricing – and these 2 pillars became the foundation of their working culture.
gunnercooke’s ambition to transform the legal industry began with flattening the traditional hierarchy often seen in UK law firms. They introduced a golden rule that every gunnercooke lawyer must have at least 10,000 hours in practice. They also decided that all partners ought to have more direct financial benefit from their work, retaining 70% of fees generated from a client fee. The fee-share model allows lawyers more control over their income, whilst they develop business acumen and understanding of their clients’ commercial needs.
This is supported by ‘The Development Office’, which delivers business courses through a combination of face-to-face and online learning sessions on topics from pricing and negotiation to emotional wellbeing and resilience.
"When lawyers are happy, healthy and in control of their workload, they offer exceptional service"
Darryl and Sarah ripped up the standard timesheet system, replacing it with complete transparency on fixed fees. And whilst they currently have two offices based in London and Manchester, they encourage partners to work flexibly from any location that benefits their clients or themselves. To this end, they created a bespoke, purpose-built online platform to assist with the need to access secure documents from anywhere; allowing partners to manage client relationships, store confidential information safely and securely, and collaborate on legal documents from separate locations. Technology also underpins their internal communications strategy, including their ‘Meet the Team’ video campaign introducing new partners to the firm.
In addition to their unique business model, gunnercooke also runs a non- profit social business called Inspire, which connects smaller charities with the funding they need to realise their mission. Recognising the enormous inequality between the top third sector brands and the grassroots projects set up to make a difference in local areas, gunnercooke reached out to a handful of charities across Greater Manchester, assigning an experienced business mentor to each. These business leaders work with the charity executives on their vision, business plan, funding and strategy. The Inspire mission also involves regular networking events and the ‘Hub’ concept; 5-10 charities from non-competing social causes meeting monthly to facilitate peer-to- peer mentoring and shared problem solving.
In the past year alone, the firm has seen revenue increase 20% and is on track to achieve turnover of £25m this year. They welcome 30 new partners annually, testament to the number of senior lawyers in the UK seeking freedom in their work-life balance. They are the only firm in the UK actively using NPS (+84) as a KPI.
gunnercooke prove that when employees are happy, healthy and in control of their workload, they offer an exceptional level of service.