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Wellbeing is at the heart of our business model

17th May 2019

When Stewart and I set up the firm a few years ago, we were very clear that we were going to do things differently from other firms. Our previous jobs had informed our views about what did and didn’t work for us as individuals. There’s nothing wrong with others’ way of working; we just thought that there was a new niche to be carved out. Over the last seven years, we’ve been continuing to carve and refine that offering.

It’s not uncommon nowadays for a lawyer to be working as a consultant. It was almost unheard of when we first set up. It’s incredible quite how quickly the model has been accepted as normal.

The consultancy arrangement works well for our lawyers: they keep a larger share of their revenue (c. Two-thirds) compared to those who work for larger private practice firms (who tend to earn around one-third of their Billings). They also negotiate deadlines and working patterns directly with their clients - which suits everyone involved. Until relatively recently, I thought that this was predominantly a work/life balance point. So I was struck when I read a recent quote that one of our consultants had written about working at the firm. In particular, it was her use of the word ‘wellbeing’.

Looking after our people’s wellbeing had been so at the core of how we work at Berlad Graham that it didn’t occur to use to make a virtue of it. Last week’s national wellbeing week was great to see - with lots of firms making great noises about their advances in this area. However, for me, the fact that it isn’t an issue here is a sign that we’re getting it right. I'm not complacent, but I do think it's really quite simple:
Our lawyers are people. We treat them like people. People like being treated like people. They like working here.
Our clients are people. They pay for our services and so we treasure them like friends. People like being treated as friends. That's why they come back time and again.

Nothing inherently about the practice of law means that we *have* to work long hours or drive ourselves into the ground to achieve a result for a client. I can see how a time-pressured, cross-border M&A transaction or piece of litigation might require regular working outside of your core hours, but I’m not sure that it’s healthy or sustainable to continue working like that all day, every day, every month, every year.

That’s not to suggest that we don’t work hard here, either: because we do. But for every early start or late finish, there has to be a chance to balance it back off, to re-establish an equilibrium, to look after your short, medium and long-term wellbeing. I hope that as a profession, that in the near future, that’s not even up for debate.

If you’d like to work somewhere where you are in charge of your own destiny but have the support of partners, have good systems support you but no-one getting in your way, and would like your wellbeing to be taken seriously, then please get in touch with me or Stewart on the numbers below.