Phillip Gilmore – managing partner at Vincents – on his career, growth & future investment

Phillip, can you give us a brief summary of your career to date?
I started my working life as a quantity surveyor but after the recession in the early 90s, I was made redundant and decided to re-train and qualify as a solicitor. I relocated from Newcastle Upon Tyne to the North West and studied Law at Lancaster University.

A chance meeting with Alan Vincent, who was then senior partner at Inghams Solicitors, resulted in me being offered a training contract and when Alan left in 2000 to set up Vincents Solicitors I was asked to go with him. From starting with one office employing just the two of us, Vincents has grown to become a multi-disciplined practice operating out of seven offices with over 85 staff with me taking over the helm from Alan Vincent in 2009.

What do you think will be the growth areas for Vincents in 2015?
Being a true multi-disciplined firm means that there are opportunities for growth in all different areas of our business. Most recently, we have taken on a team of three, including a clinical negligence director, to grow our clinical negligence department.

In addition, we acquired Colebournes, a well-established Blackpool crime practice at the end of 2014, to grow our market share and expand our geographical coverage in the region. This also gives us the scale to compete in the next round of LAA contracting, which will be region wide for the first time in October. We also expect to see natural organic growth as the economy continues to recover, particularly in residential and commercial property.

Which parts of the business are you looking to particularly invest in over the coming years?
As the economy continues to recover, we are seeking to continue to grow and invest in our commercial offering, which includes corporate transactional work, commercial property, contract and employment law. The investment in our new clinical negligence team is significant for us as this work will take at least two years to mature.

What are the biggest challenges the firm is currently facing?
As the firm continues to expand, we are constantly on the lookout for ambitious, skilled individuals who have a passion to deliver leading levels of service. Finding people of this standard at senior management level and with five years’ PQE has been challenging, particularly as we are increasingly competing with larger firms in the traditional commercial city centres in Manchester and Liverpool.

Acquisitions have been part of your growth strategy. Will there be more to come?
There has been a great deal of consolidation in the legal services market and I am certain that this will continue to be the case. We are always open to more acquisitions if we can see value being added further down the line. The most important thing for us to find a business that complements our existing service offering.

You have offices across the North West. Would you ever look at spreading your geographical reach to other regions?
Since establishing in 2000, Vincents has seen tremendous growth and our client base extends far and wide from the North of Scotland down to the South coast of England, so if the right opportunity came up, we would consider expanding into other regions.

Where do you think the firm will be in 10 years time?
It is always difficult to predict where we might be in that length of time, but with a strong financial base and reputation for providing great legal advice, we are confident that we will continue to grow. We have concentrated on business development in recent years, so have a great platform to build on and believe that there are exciting times ahead.

In the medium term, we are aiming to double our turnover while focusing on reducing costs, achieving economies of scale and improving efficiency with investment in technology, our website and social media channels to increase our presence across these platforms.

In five words, why do clients chose Vincents?
Approachable, efficient, skilled, knowledgeable, relationships

In your opinion, what makes a good lawyer?
A good lawyer is not only an expert in their field but has the ability to act commercially. Lawyers need to be able to assess the market and adapt to any changes as well as promote themselves and the firm through networking and meeting people.

Finally, what are your own career goals that you still want to achieve?
We’re an ambitious firm, so my main goal is to continue to focus on running the overall practice, including business development, to ensure we can keep growing, succeed financially, adapt to an ever-changing marketplace and deliver a leading service for our clients.