In The Lawyer this week, Mishcon de Reya boss, David Gold, announced that the firm is considering a John Lewis style employee ownership model which would see non-lawyers at the firm own a stake in the business.
The employee ownership model would see all owners take a profit share from the business and be remunerated according to the success of the firm. This is a bold move and one that, if it goes ahead, could see the firm benefit significantly. Research shows that co-owned companies tend to be more successful, competitive, profitable and sustainable. Because they’re co-owners, staff in employee owned businesses tend to be more entrepreneurial and committed to the company and its success. As such, these organisations are better at recruiting and retaining talented, committed staff.
Whilst the partnership model has always meant a firm’s lawyers could potentially own a stake, for those in business services this has not been a realistic possibility. As a PR specialist who has worked both agency-side and in-house at a law firm, I am very aware of the divide between non-lawyer,business services staff and the fee-earning lawyers. This is changing but those working in business services still often feel less valued than their lawyer colleagues.
The business services function in a law firm is key to its success and attracting and keeping talent in fields such and finance, IT, marketing and HR can sometimes be tough for law firms. From a PR perspective these proposals - and the fact that both business services and lawyer employees were consulted on them - sends out a strong message to Mischon’s staff and potential recruits about how the firm values its workforce and demonstrates it is innovative and progressive in its outlook.
Gold said he envisioned a firm run by all of its lawyers and employees, where everyone has a stake in its success and are “encouraged to invest their responsibility in the success of firm” instead of their own individual successes. The idea could make the most of Mishcon’s ABS structure, which it adopted last year.