A New Approach to Employment Law

Contributing to this month’s Special Feature Report on Employment Law, Lawyer Monthly also spoke to John Hayes, the Principal at Constantine Law, a leading London employment law firm providing high-end legal support to a host of corporate clients.

John Hayes is an employment lawyer who advises UK corporates in the financial services, employment agencies, retail and construction sectors. He is one of London's leading solicitors in restrictive covenant disputes. John has a very solutions orientated and commercial approach. John's client base is entrepreneurial and go-getting and Constantine Law works off an innovative agile model.

Here John gives Lawyer Monthly an overview of how to deliver the best legal services in this field without extensive costs to the client, and tells us how his firm’s agile working model most appeals to the corporate world.

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As Employment lawyers, we spend our lives advising our corporate clients on how to make their workplaces leaner and more competitive, and how to deal with the HR implications which flow from such decisions. However, traditionally, as lawyers we have been very slow to re-engineer our processes and pass on cost savings to our clients. We don’t practice what we preach. In particular, many law firms carry very high overheads which are simply not compatible with the new IT-led industrial revolution.

By embracing a host of cloud based solutions; ranging from Software as a Service (SaaS) based Customer Relationship Management (CRM) to secure online file sharing and hosting it is possible to work securely and efficiently while also delivering more cost effective solutions to our corporate clients. We ensure all staff use 2 factor authentication when accessing data to ensure that client security and confidentiality if of the highest order. As such, it is possible to deliver a far leaner and cost effective service to the corporate client. Each of us at Constantine Law charges out at 60% of what we charged out at our previous City firm. Clients get a better, smarter service. It is also possible to have a more engaged remote-working, workforce.

Last month, our associate completed two highly productive days’ work from her family home in rural Brittany. I was able to view online, in real time, the work she was doing. She was not required to take annual leave. The result? A more engaged, harder working, associate solicitor.

Ours is a service industry which is all about encouraging discretionary effort. It is not all about pay. It is about lifestyle and flexibility. It is, fundamentally a “bottom up” view of delivering professional services.

We have recruited a partner who has turned down an offer from a leading national firm because he is attracted by our agile working model. He has a young family and wants more flexibility over how he lives and works. His remuneration package is also highly competitive.

The team meets a couple of times a week, in the Clubhouse, W1, London’s premier meeting space for corporate clients. Client meetings are in confidential meeting rooms, with the cost only incurred when there is a fee earning meeting. Team meetings are in a quiet, shared space. This facility is at a fraction of the cost to taking on an expensive office lease. Clients and staff have been universally positive about the experience, in part because of the energy and professionalism associated with this space.

IT and secretarial services are outsourced. Marketing is outsourced. All service delivery is on a “buy when needed” basis and typically on a fixed cost for each month. There is no “non-productive” overhead within the firm. None. This is in stark contrast to many law firms: we don’t carry (and won’t carry) any unproductive partners.

The rationale of the firm is very “outward facing.” Solicitors are encouraged to have a minimum number of client sales visits every week. Remuneration packages have been devised to offer meaningful incentives for new introductions. Again, this is in stark contrast to most City firms where lip-service is paid to new business development and where there is no clear link between effort and reward.

This is the future of legal service delivery. We believe that law firms can also embrace the new world of agile working and by ensuring that fixed overheads are kept to a minimum and staff have access to the latest software solutions, we can delivery a better service at a more competitive rates than those firms persisting with traditional methods.