Our MERJE Meets series returns with a fantastic conversation with Karen Bexley and Anna Beaumont, legal industry leaders and co-founders of Bexley Beaumont.
Bexley Beaumont is a successful and growing law firm which combines the best elements of traditional law firms and consultancy model law firms in order to provide a differing offering and choice for both clients and lawyers.
Karen is CEO of Bexley Beaumont and an experienced employment solicitor with a demonstrated history of working with some of the UK’s largest in-house legal teams and HR professionals. Karen has worked at both national law firms and fee-share firms having spent a decade working as a fee-share consultant for high profile corporate retail and hospitality clients.
Anna previously led another fee-share firm as CEO for a number of years and prior to that worked as a private equity and corporate lawyer. Anna is responsible for Partner Recruitment and Growth at Bexley Beaumont.
Here, we discuss with Karen and Anna everything from launching a new business mid-pandemic to their advice for pursuing a legal career path and even some surprising facts about the duo.
Tell us a little about Bexley Beaumont.
Bexley Beaumont launched in January 2020 with a vision to provide a boutique law firm of exceptional quality and talent. Our aim is to provide a different choice for both lawyers and clients by offering our innovative model.
Bexley Beaumont launched mere weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic took a hold on our lives. Has the journey so far been very different to what you were expecting?
The first lockdown started in month three of Bexley Beaumont and that wasn’t in the business plan! We were fortunate in many ways as our systems and infrastructure already supported agile working. Our biggest challenge was building and growing a team culture with everyone working remotely. It hasn’t been easy however it was so important for our growth to create and nurture that inclusive and collaborative team culture.
As co-founders, Karen and I spent a lot time together in 2019 planning Bexley Beaumont, so we also had to adapt to a different way of working together.
Bexley Beaumont has recently been shortlisted for four awards, we have been shortlisted at the Law Society’s Excellence in Law Awards 2021, for Business of the Year at the Greater Manchester Awards 2021, for New Business of the Year at the Business Masters Awards 2021 and at the Enterprise Vision Awards 2021. A fantastic recognition for everyone in the Bexley Beaumont team and the clients who have trusted Bexley Beaumont to support them.
You launched Bexley Beaumont with collaboration and innovation in mind, how does your business differ from other operating models and what are the benefits of this?
Over the last year we have been described as a “hybrid” and also the “best of both” in many articles. We look to combine the best elements of a traditional firm with the best elements of a fee-share/consultancy firm.
Our team culture, the support we provide, our approach to recruitment and our approach to quality is far more aligned with a traditional law firm, but we also have all the benefits of the innovative fee-share model.
We have an uncompromising approach to quality and, together with our team culture, this creates an inclusive and collaborative working environment for all. We are not striving to be the largest fee-share firm by partner numbers, that’s simply not part of our vision. We are more focused on and committed to quality, support and collaboration.
Bexley Beaumont has seen impressive growth in its short lifespan! Looking to the future of the business, what further plans do you have and what are you most looking forward to?
We have had really good, measured growth over the last 18 months; both lawyers and clients have been attracted to our different offering. Looking ahead, we have some exciting plans in place, including looking to open an office in London in 2022 and launching a General Counsel product.
We aim to further strengthen our existing offering to clients and introduce new practice areas by welcoming more highly talented lawyers to the team. Karen and I are also both very excited to implement our corporate and social responsibility programme in 2022 – something we have worked hard on as a team to develop this year.
One of our many phrases at Bexley Beaumont is “Grow the Team, Keep the Culture”, this is a key part of our vision and a reason why we are different so we will continue to also work on our Team Culture.
You have both had highly successful legal careers over the past 20 years. Has there been a key moment in your careers that has led you to where you are today?
Karen and I met in 2019 and realised we shared a passion for the fee-share model but we also believed there was an alternative offering that we could deliver. The vision behind Bexley Beaumont was formed whilst we spent time together with our children over the summer of 2019.
At the time, Karen had been a highly successful fee-share consultant for over a decade, acting for retail and hospitality clients, and I had management experience of growing and leading a fee-share firm. Our combined experience led to Bexley Beaumont and our innovative model. We shared a clear vision of what we wanted to build and what we wanted to do differently.
Strong, empowering leadership is something you are both passionate about. What do you believe is the key to being a great leader?
Being a good listener and listening with the intent to understand, rather than to respond. Strong communications skills, sharing information in an open and honest way and being authentic are also needed, plus the ability to build trust and confidence.
We believe in the strategy of recruiting people better than yourself, creating the right environment for them to work and then getting out of their way!
We often say “every day is a school day” and it’s important for the whole team to understand that we are all learning, irrespective of our roles or how many years we have worked. That thirst for continuous learning and personal development benefits everyone in the team and the firm as a whole.
What one piece of advice would you give to those aspirational individuals just starting out on their legal career paths?
Stay on your own path. There is no right or wrong way for your career to develop. You may decide to go in-house, move to a different sector entirely using your transferable skills, join a city firm, join a high street firm, work on interim roles or even join a fee-share/consultancy model!
These days, there are many options available to lawyers at all stages of their career and it’s important to explore them, know your options and, most importantly, to enjoy your journey. Karen and I took two different paths to get to where we are today.
Bexley Beaumont’s head office is in Manchester city centre. Now that we’re able to go out and about again, are there any restaurants or bars in the city that you’re particularly looking forward to visiting again?
Probably too many to mention! We are very lucky to have so many lovely restaurants to choose from in the city centre. We have a business event taking place at King Street Townhouse in September which we’re very much looking forward to. It will be great to see everyone and of course to enjoy some great food and drinks on the terrace. We are at San Carlo for our Christmas event, which always has a great atmosphere and, again, fabulous food.
Has anything positive come out of the events of the past year for you personally?
Karen: During the last lockdown, I started running again for the first time in over 15 years. I started with the Couch to 5k plan and can now run 10km. I’m never going to break any records but I am really enjoying the physical and mental benefits of running.
Anna: Definitely not home-schooling, but being with the children after previously spending hardly any time with them during the week has been precious and treasured. Once I decided that making mud pies counted as a form of education, we all started to have fun - both children were perfectly happy making mud pies all day every day!
We moved house two weeks before the first lockdown and the timing turned out to be spot on. We walked a lot as a family during the first two lockdowns so we managed to explore the local area far better than what we would have done if I hadn’t been working at home.
If you could instantly pick up any new skill, what would you choose and why?
Karen: I have always wanted to be able to fly a plane. I watched Top Gun far too often when I was younger and I did have a flying lesson many years ago, but I spent half the time suffering from motion sickness!
Anna: My back garden currently resembles a mini jungle so gardening would be an ideal skill! I may need to give in and get some support but at the moment I am still holding onto the idea that I can learn how to sort it somehow.
Tell us something people might be surprised to learn about you.
Karen: It might not be that surprising after my earlier answer, but I love heights! I used to rock climb when I was younger and in the last few years I have abseiled down Liverpool Cathedral and done a 15,000 ft skydive. Once I have learnt how to fly a plane, the next thing I’d love to do is get my skydiving license to I can throw myself out of it!
Anna: The Peak District is my happy place and most weekends you will find me there, whatever the weather, in a field (often a muddy one!) playing with ponies. Thankfully the children share my passion and it’s a great way to unwind, re-charge and switch off.
A big thank you to Karen and Anna for taking the time to contribute to our ongoing MERJE Meets series. Read more of our Meets articles here, and if you would like to collaborate with MERJE in the name of our Meets, Insights or other articles, get in touch with our marketing team: email@example.com
MERJE offers comprehensive and expert recruitment and job seeking services in the Legalarena. If you are looking for a new role or to add talent to your team, get in touch with our dedicated Legal consultant, Sershen Ingram.