Our 1st birthday as a 100% employee-owned law firm

Our 1st birthday as a 100% EO law firm

Exactly one year ago tomorrow we became a fully fledged 100% employee-owned company, transferring all our shares to an employee ownership trust and so committing to all members of our firm having an ownership stake.

In this short blog, our founder Robert Postlethwaite looks at the impact employee ownership has had on us so far, whether anything has changed, and what’s next.

Robert Postlethwaite

Has anything changed, and should it?

I’m firmly of the view, that any business aiming to be successful  under employee ownership needs to have strong employee engagement.  Our recent guest blog from SALAD put this well: there should be a clear and well communicated vision, engaging managers, a strong employee voice and solid shared values which act as a glue to hold the business together.

For many businesses new to employee ownership, a programme of change will be important to start building these characteristics.

So we decided as a team of now ten, to reflect on whether we think anything has changed in our business over the last year.  The consensus was things have changed… but  only a bit.  I swallowed initial feelings of disappointment to then see the conversation develop into an analysis of why.  We reminded ourselves that at the time of becoming employee-owned we already had a strong culture of engagement, and that it was neither realistic nor necessary to expect rapid, significant change.  We recognised that although not perfect, we could be happy with our levels of engagement.

From my own personal perspective as Managing Director, I feel an increased positive energy from all my colleagues. It’s like having the wind behind me in everything I do, sometimes tempered by a change of wind direction when the team identify a need to adjust our course or speed.

What’s next?    

But we do have new interesting and exciting challenges to turn our attention to.  Earlier this month, Chester Zoo was the venue (some may say entirely suitably) for a fabulous one day symposium on employee ownership in law firms hosted by Oliver & Co, at which we were represented by our Practice Manager, Lorna Martin and myself.

Before the attendees got down to the serious business of looking at the Komodo dragons, chimpanzees and penguins, we compared notes and shared valuable insights on how well we were doing with building our employee ownership culture and Lorna and I took away plenty of ideas for possible new initiatives.

A key learning for us was the importance of having a clearly identifiable strategy.  No longer just something in the directors’ heads, but a thorough plan for our future growth as a firm whose purpose is to help build better businesses through employee ownership.  This would form a clear roadmap for all of us, so we all know where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.

We’ll also soon be welcoming our independent trustee, (more on that soon!) who we’ll be asking for help in developing our future strategy.

In conclusion

Having had a good year and becoming comfortable in our new employee ownership clothing, it’s time to go to the next stage and formally plan out Postlethwaite Solicitors’ future.  Watch this space!

The Postlethwaite Team March 2024