George Bisnought, founder and managing director of Excello Law, on why he set the firm up and what his growth plans are
What inspired you to create Excello Law?
Excello Law was established as a direct result of my personal experiences as a practising solicitor and also as a client of legal services, from my time as legal director at IT business, Infor. I therefore had the privilege of seeing the profession from both sides. After analysing the legal services market, I recognised that it was time to disregard the traditional law firm model and create a new model which placed both the client and the lawyer squarely at the centre of our service matrix.
A model which offered businesses direct access to exceptional partner level commercial lawyers, who were free to focus on their clients’ business needs and able to meet the ever increasing demand for competitive pricing models that offer certainty and value. For our lawyers, Excello Law offers a collaborative working environment, significant financial reward, control and flexibility over their work and career path, coupled with unparalleled administrative and marketing support.
The business stands out because we’ve created a vibrant and innovative commercial law firm from the ground up, focused entirely on the needs and aspirations of our lawyers and clients rather than a hierarchy of partners. Both the client and our lawyers are therefore given equal importance. This has proved to be a very successful formula and it’s a real compliment to see existing firms and new entrants now trying to imitate us.
You recently opened in Liverpool which is unusual for a virtual law firm, why was that?
We don’t see ourselves as being “virtual” anymore. The process of continuously reviewing the needs of both our clients and lawyers is shaping our evolution. That is the exciting thing about Excello Law – the ability to adapt quickly to a changing market. What we’re doing is challenging both the traditional and ‘virtual’ models of legal practice. We also have offices in London and Leeds.
Each of the offices have been designed to provide the firm’s growing team of partner-level lawyers with a modern and dynamic working space and the flexibility to work in the way that they choose. Unlike virtual firms that simply offer their lawyers access to office facilities, Excello Law is laying solid roots with a dedicated office supporting its ‘experience heavy, bureaucracy light’ approach to practice.
You’ve recruited some big hitting commercial lawyers over the past year, what is your recruitment strategy?
For growing and new model law firms like Excello Law, there is always a pressure to demonstrate that you are bringing in significant numbers of new hires. The legal media in particular tends to focus growth stories on how many lawyers have come through the door as a benchmark for success.
Reflecting on the latest stories about firms’ rising headcounts and considerable recruitment targets, I think there is too much focus on quantity over quality. Of course, we want to continue to recruit new lawyers, to grow our offering and broaden our reach, but what is really crucial, is getting the people who are the right fit for an organisation like ours.
Like most firms we look for great CVs, with strong academics and a track record at leading City and national firms. Lawyers that come to us tend to have many years’ experience and a significant client following. What is harder to ascertain from a CV is whether the highly skilled lawyer in front of you is going to have the right mind-set. It is the “soft-skills” which set our lawyers apart. We look for lawyers who are entrepreneurial and open minded. We find that lawyers who join us are inspired by the prospect of being part of a dynamic firm which is challenging convention and is at the vanguard of a rapidly evolving commercial environment influencing the changes in our profession.
Working as part of Excello Law, whilst very rewarding, is a hugely different experience to working in a more traditional law firm. Our lawyers are keen to be free of the politics, management responsibilities, long hours and inflexibility of private practice but - in turn - need to be able to adjust to being their own boss, managing their own workload and time, and having no one looking over their shoulder.
They also need to get on with people and be keen to work collegiately with like-minded lawyers. I am very proud of the fact that we offer lawyers the freedom to be lawyers! Those who prefer the hierarchies of a more traditional model will not be right for us.
What next for Excello Law?
With both clients and lawyers buying into our model, I expect further exponential growth over the coming year. I also anticipate opening other offices across the country in the coming months. Our search for entrepreneurial commercial lawyers continues and internationally, we’re in active discussions with lawyers in the USA and UAE amongst a number of other jurisdictions, following the opening of our first office in Sweden.