THE BRIEF TALKS TO Nick Freeman
When did you start working as a solicitor and what are your specialisms now?
I qualified in 1981 and I studied at Trent Polytechnic followed by a stint at Chester Law School. I now specialise in Criminal and Road Traffic Law.
Nick, can you tell us a bit about your average day?
Not really as there isn’t a typical day. I get up pretty early – normally by about 6.00 to 6.30am. I fall out of bed and do 400 sit ups, 90 press ups and a run. Once I’ve finished breakfast I’m then ready for action! I have clients across the whole country which means I’m away from home a lot of the week so I often find myself in hotels but I make sure my running gear is with me as exercise sets me up for the day.
I drive everywhere so the first thing I do is jump in the car and head to court. Depending on the severity of the case, I sometimes don’t actually meet my clients face to face until their case comes to trial. About 70% to 80% of our work is in and around London but I’ve always resisted opening in the capital as I want to maintain a healthy work life balance. Clients really aren’t bothered where the firm’s address is as they come to us for our expertise so careful planning on our part is key! Also, the advances in communications since I set the practice up in January 1999 mean there’s even less reason to change things.
I know you will have been asked many times but how do you feel about the ‘Mr Loophole’ tag?
I was actually named ‘Mr Loophole’ by a Daily Express reporter. At the time, I wasn’t that happy as it suggested something sinister or underhand – neither of which I am! However, it stuck but I then read a local paper which referred to another solicitor as ‘Mr Loophole’. I also then checked the term ‘loophole’ online and the results hinted at sourcing illegal advice. That made me sit up and think that I needed to protect myself so I decided to trademark the name. The process took months and cost a fair few pennies but it was worth it. I believe that I’m the first lawyer to do something like that and I’m pleased to say that it’s worked well for me as I’m quite a private person and that professional identity does give me a bit of anonymity in my personal life.
You’re well known for working with many high profile people so do you think those kinds of clients need a particular kind of service?
Of course discretion is key but as a business we don’t give any special treatment to our famous clients. Every single person who walks through our door is treated with the same level of respect and every client is given 100% service regardless of who they are. Myself and my colleagues appreciate that we have been entrusted with their case and this comes with huge responsibilities. In fact, sometimes the pressure to get the right result for ‘average Joe’ is even greater as a driving ban or conviction could have monumental consequences on their way of life and their ability to earn money.
Your profile has risen immensely over the past few years; is that a help or can it be a hindrance?
Well, it’s a bit like being ‘the fastest gun in the west’ as it appears that everyone wants to take you down! However, I’m all for a competitive market as it keeps you sharp and it means there’s no room for complacency. Ours is a huge industry - and clients have massive choice - so it’s about trying to be the best and I do believe in the age old view that ‘the cream always rises to the top.’
Your book ‘The Art of the Loophole’ was recently published – how did that come about?
I was initially approached to write a book before the economic crash happened but it was going to be more autobiographical. That didn’t sit too well as no-one really knows the real me - they only know the clients I work with and the cases I handle. I was quite relieved when that didn’t pan out but then the phone rang last year and it was literary agent who had the idea of a book made up of legal anecdotes with a few autobiographical elements woven in. The result, which took about a year to write, is a light-hearted read that has mass appeal. The feedback has been great with many fellow legal professionals saying it’s a ‘must read’ for trainee lawyers - but there’s something in it for everyone. I’m very proud of the book but it’s still a bit surreal when I pick it up!
You operate under two brand names; Freeman & Co and Freeman Keep on Driving – why did you decide to do that and do they work well together?
Freeman & Co is my original firm and it specialises in bespoke criminal work whilst Freeman Keep on Driving was launched about six or seven years ago and that is purely road traffic focussed. I set it up in response to the critics who said that only rich celebrities could access my services but this business is for the ordinary man on the street and I’m proud of that.
How do you feel about the changing legal landscape with the advent of ABS’s?
The legal sector has changed massively and it’s sometimes hard to take it all on board. My view is that clients should go to specialists depending on their needs. I’m not a great fan of large multi-disciplinary firms; in fact, I left the partnership of just such an organisation as I was tired of the politics... I just wanted to be a lawyer. I’m a big believer in ‘small is beautiful’ and I’m sure the trend of foreign practices coming into the UK to buy up smaller firms is only going to increase and that will have big ramifications. Also, what’s going to be next – maybe doctors and dentists coming under one roof? We’ll have to see how things unravel but it’s vitally important the public isn’t misled and that everyone has access to the best advice possible at a fair and reasonable price.
What’s next for you and the firm?
To carry on not being complacent and to keep ahead of the market. I’m a businessman as well as a lawyer so I’m always looking at new opportunities for growth and development. I’m often asked to act in divorce cases so you never know whether that might be a future route for us. All I do know is that we can’t sit back and stagnate! I am also involved with quite a lot of media work including frequent TV and radio appearances, the odd newspaper column and after dinner speech. I really enjoy that side of things.
Finally, any words of wisdom for readers of The Brief?
Fit body, fit mind.
About Nick: Nick Freeman is the man who helped Sir Alex Ferguson hang onto his driving licence after telling a court the United manager only drove on a motorway hard shoulder because he urgently needed the loo. And he ensured David Beckham escaped a driving ban by convincing a judge the soccer star was speeding to avoid the paparazzi.
Little wonder then that Nick Freeman is Britain's highest profile lawyer, or that he has been nicknamed Mr Loophole by the press for his uncanny ability to win cases on the tiniest legal technicalities. And it's no surprise celebrities keep his number on speed dial in case they find themselves in trouble with the law.
Nick's career as a criminal defence lawyer has been nothing short of stratospheric. He has won more cases and attracts more media attention than any other lawyer practising in this country today. His roll call of stellar clients includes Andrew Flintoff, Jimmy Carr, Colin Montgomery and Ronnie O'Sullivan. Famous for forming winning, quirky and innovative defences - even when a case appears indefensible - he has revolutionised the way which law, particularly motoring law, is practised.
As an after dinner speaker, Nick Freeman thrills audiences with punchy and powerful stories from his legal career. Since his client base ranges from actors and sporting heroes to pop stars and captains of industry he has countless tales to tell of defending the rich and famous.
A newspaper columnist and author of The Art of the Loophole (published by Hodder in Spring 2012), Nick isn't afraid to criticise and confront the judiciary and the constabulary. His unflinching views often make newspaper headlines.
Nick Freeman's extraordinary success has made him much in demand as a motivational speaker. He believes the guiding principles which have been key to his success can be applied to any area of business and industry. Growing and exploiting a brand, finding a niche in a competitive market place, using the media and effective rainmaking are some of the topics he covers in his dynamic presentations.