The 1st of August was a big milestone for us as it marked the 10th Anniversary of our business as an independent firm.
As I hand over the reins as Senior Partner to my good friend Stuart Hendry with whom I started the firm ten years ago, it is a good time to pause and reflect on our journey. It has been a real privilege to have led the firm over the past ten years and I have enjoyed every minute. It has been a great team effort and we have many people to thank for the success we have enjoyed over the years.
I must begin by thanking my friends and former partners in our predecessor firm of Murray Beith Murray for giving me so much latitude to build a commercial division within that firm. They gave me free rein to build a business around the concepts of Business Angel investing and supporting high growth technology companies and it was a great thrill to see the first Angel deal I did IPO at £150 Million.
We lived through the crazy days of the dotcom boom and bust and our business has sailed through the greed and madness of the financial crash which followed it. Our investor clients have all kept their nerve and the new businesses which we have helped to start and build over the past ten years have all been more robust with sensible business models.
Since starting the firm in 2005, we have had the opportunity to work on numerous innovative new projects including the first Enterprise Capital Fund and we have established a niche in the establishment of Venture Capital Funds and Business Angel Syndicates. We have helped lots of high growth businesses with a bias towards innovation and technology including several who have successfully adopted a buy and build strategy as a prelude to a successful exit. We have also been involved in lots of successful exits, including a number of complex high value transactions for clients operating in multiple currencies and different geographies and jurisdictions.
Our clients have been remarkably unscathed by the financial crash as they have adopted sensible financing strategies without significant reliance on the clearing banks. We have also been able to help lots of clients who have been hurt by the banking system to obtain redress by building our very successful Financial Services Dispute Resolution business which recently achieved a milestone result in the UK Supreme Court. Recognising that everybody in business needs advice on Employment Law but nobody likes to pay for it, we have launched our highly successful fixed price retainer service – Holistic HR. I am also very pleased that over the past 10 years we have developed and grown our Green Energy & Property and IP & Commercial Contracts practices respectively.
We started our business as a “cloud based” law firm and we must have been one of the first in the UK to do so. The recurring themes of the past ten years have been innovation linked to constant improvement in our services and internationalisation. Our clients have business interests on all continents of the earth apart from Antarctica and there has never been a more interesting or challenging time to be in business. We should forever be grateful that the English language remains the principal international language of commerce and that English law is still one of the principal international jurisdictions of commerce. This gives us a huge competitive advantage and (quite literally) a world of opportunity for our young lawyers.
As Stuart takes on the role of Senior Partner, I know that the business is in excellent hands with a great team of Partners heading up a group of outstanding lawyers and support staff who make the whole business “tick”. Our business is in great shape and we have broadened our horizons across the UK and further afield as we help clients with international contracts. I was having lunch with one of my oldest clients yesterday, now a long time resident of Indonesia. It is a fast growing consumer economy of three hundred million people (about the size of Europe) which has been substantially ignored by UK plc. With our “Entrepreneurial Insights” programme and other similar initiatives we are trying to play our small part in helping to broaden our collective horizons.
At the same time we must remember that business is not just about making profits. We have a role to play as responsible citizens in helping to improve our “ecosystem” and we have supported countless entrepreneurial initiatives over the years as well as taking part in fundraising for charitable causes to support those less fortunate than ourselves.
Today the world faces its greatest ever “security” challenges – whether they be related to food, water, health, energy, climate change, physical or cyber – and our clients are all helping in some small way to meet these challenges for the greater good. For those who rise to the occasion, there has never been a better time to be in business.