Fran Eccles-Bech - Executive Director, Manchester Law Society

What is your role within the Manchester Law Society?

I am Executive Director of Manchester Law Society where I have been for 25 years this year (yes I obviously was a child prodigy!!).   My responsibilities at Manchester Law Society include providing an extensive range of services for members and non members, management of the financial business, to investigate and create marketing opportunities, to support the Officers, Council and Committees, to act as a focal point for the Society and to manage and oversee staff and operations.
Outside of my role my hobbies are my lovely Spanish husband, Peter, my hormonal adolescent 16 year old son, Jack (aka Kevin), walking the dogs, gardening but only in the summer, shopping (NOT window), cooking for friends, reading when I get a minute, trying to ride my motorbike (only passed test in June) and very sadly, reality tv shows

Why do you think  the Manchester Legal Awards have taken off so much in the last few years?

I think that the Manchester Legal Awards have taken off so well over the last three years as people like to celebrate and reward exceptional talent, of which there is an enormous amount in Manchester and the surrounding areas.  The Awards have once again highlighted the excellence of every level of the legal profession in Manchester, in what is the largest and, in my view, the best legal centre outside of London and it is also a great way for the legal profession and the financial and business community in general, who supported the event, to get together to network, see old friends and make some new ones.

What are your views on Manchester’s  legal landscape right now?

The city has weathered the economic downturn well due to its diverse knowledge based economy and that has been reflected in the legal profession. Firms in Manchester have been able to respond quickly and flexibly to the challenges of the past few years and we are now seeing an increasing optimism among firms.

How do you think the city’s legal market will change over the next few years?

I  anticipate changes to the city’s legal market over the next few years in response to external factors which are changing the way in which legal services are delivered.  Firstly Alternative Business Structures will see new entrants to the market and solicitors will be working in some very different environments to the traditional law firm partnership structure. The ability for law firms to access external capital will also mean that firms have the opportunity to expand in innovative new ways. Further, the demand from in-house counsel for flexibility and value-added from their external lawyers means firms are evolving new ways of working with their clients and going a long way towards enhancing the client experience and client loyalty.

Why do you think Manchester attracts some of the best lawyers ?

Manchester is the largest legal centre outside London and the SE. Over 30 of the Top 100 firms have a presence in Manchester and there is a growing number of high quality niche firms. Firms in Manchester are increasingly operating internationally.  As such the quality and the diversity of the work available is extremely attractive to lawyers when coupled with the lifestyle choices of Manchester.  Due to the strong regional firms as we have in Manchester  we can offer the same, if not better, legal services compared to London and because of the economics of working in a region, law firms in Manchester have had to be competitive for a lot longer and make much better use of their systems and technology.

Why does the Manchester Law Society play such an important role for lawyers in Manchester?

We have been part of the fabric of the legal landscape in the city since 1835 and provide a vibrant local legal hub for our members to be part of, from lobbying, consultations, education, networking, generation of business opportunities, business forums, marketing opportunities, discussion groups and social events and we are able to bring together the legal profession, whatever the size of practice or area of speciality and bring a real sense of community to the profession

What are the aims and ambitions of the Manchester Law Society in Manchester over the next five years?

To continue to help our members adapt to the ever changing legal landscape and to continue to be one of the most active, vibrant and thriving local law societies in the country, promoting Manchester as a strong centre for delivering high quality, cost effective, client focused legal services at all levels.

What inspires you when it comes to your work?

The wide range of people I come into contact with everyday whether it’s my team at the office, a member of the general public, a supplier or judge, a lawyer or another business professional - everybody has something to offer and I learn something new each day – so you can teach an old dog new tricks!!

Do you work by a particular mantra or motto in your business life?

Treat everybody as you would like to be treated yourself  and you won’t go far wrong.

Can you give one piece of professional advice to your peers?

Give before you expect to receive.