Having seen significant growth over the pandemic, Interlink Recruitment joins Antoine West, Managing Partner of Spencer West to discuss in-depth what makes Spencer West different from other firms. Spencer West has grown from a small London boutique to a nationwide firm with over 80 Partners in just 4 years, using their core values of excellence, business acumen and collaboration to drive their success. This rapid growth is set to continue as they expand regionally across the UK and into international markets, currently opening offices in multiple locations around the world and setting themselves up to become a global full-service firm.
Q: As a “Challenger” firm, do you believe that operating with a Consultancy model has contributed to your great success during the pandemic, as working from home had less of an impact on your business?
A: This has led to many more Lawyers joining our firm, across the whole of the UK and internationally. The Lawyers joining us appreciate that we offer the best of both worlds - being able to develop their own practice as they wish and within the context of a supportive environment and in the company of some incredibly capable Lawyers to develop business together.
Q: How does Spencer West differ from the other “Challenger” firms?
A: Headquartered in the City of London, we focus on excellence and our Lawyers have typically over 10 years' expertise in their chosen fields. We are a values based firm with a focus on community, support and business development. We put colleagues first, offering the highest rates of remuneration of any comparable law firm (typical revenue share at 80% of billings). We have a vision of becoming a global law firm, developing as an international community. We are good for business, with a purpose that is good for our Lawyers, our clients and the communities in which we are involved.
Q: What has your growth over the pandemic looked like in terms of both practice areas and headcount?
A: Three to four years ago we were a two Partner boutique City of London practice. Over the last 18 months we have grown from being 30 Partners based in London to over 80 Partners based throughout the UK including in the South-West, Wales, the Midlands and the North. We have added considerably to our practice areas such as renewable energy, IP, technology, HNW residential and impact investing so as to become largely full service. Internationally we are developing significant practices in a number of key locations so that within the next 12 months we expect to have multiple offices across Europe, the Middle East, the Caribbean and Asia.
Q: Are there any new practice areas or disciplines that Spencer West has recently expanded into?
A: We are attracting new practice areas and disciplines all the time and are always keen to develop the strength and depth of our offering. Recent examples including developing a leading renewable energy practice, building on our capabilities in technology and adding capability in insolvency. Internationally we are opening in new markets all the time.
Q: How has technology changed the way you work and helped to keep things uniform at the firm?
A: We use a practice management system that integrates document management, accounts and time recording, and in which we have a useful repository of resources for colleagues including a 'marketing playbook' with links to templates and other materials. We use video conferencing for our Partners' meetings and meetings at practice area and sector level. We use software that assists with onboarding of clients. We have our own bespoke IT system that assists with bill generation and calculates referral fees due to our colleagues and also the fees due to our recruiters.
Q: How have you utilised technology to reach international markets during the pandemic?
A: Most importantly, we are opening new offices in overseas locations all the time as we develop as an international community of Lawyers, all supported by technology. We use video conferencing extensively in doing so and this plays an essential part in our recruitment. We use our existing international connections to reach new markets. Our social media strategy supported by our marketing director extends our reach.
Q: What are the culture and values that you work to maintain across the firm?
A: We are a values based firm, rooted in three core values of excellence (as a City of London headquartered firm), business acumen (seeing with the business person's eye) and collaboration. We foster a spirit of community and leadership among our colleagues, which helps colleagues thrive. We encourage 'teal' principles of leadership so that colleagues have the flexibility to develop their practice and are self-empowered to contribute if they wish to the shaping of the firm.
Q: How do you ensure that the culture at Spencer West remains collaborative, if the staff are working from home?
A: Collaboration is in our DNA and is one of the core values of our firm. It is highlighted at interview. We have referral fees at 15% and potentially higher to encourage referral of work. For us collaboration does not stop at referrals, it is often how work is originated between colleagues and with clients and it is how the firm has won coveted places on prestigious legal panels. We have monthly firm wide meetings online in which we can update colleagues on the development of the firm. The culture is supported by 'grown up' principles of co-leadership in which everyone, through culture, surveys and workshops, can play a creative part not only in the development of their own practice but also the wider firm. The culture is supported by social events online as well as in person as part of a programme of activities led by our Community Engagement Director.
Q: What social events do your Partners have the opportunity to partake in?
A: We stay connected through our monthly firmwide meetings lasting no longer an hour in which we report on the development of the firm. During lockdown periods we have held regular informal 'drop in' for coffee sessions online. When circumstances allow we put on social events such as an outdoor jazz evening with supper afterwards, a trip to a restaurant followed by indoor crazy golf, and so on. From 2022 we will be having an annual get-together over at least two days for all our colleagues.
Q: How important is your marketing and social media strategy to create a uniform brand for your firm and Partners, across all locations, both domestic and international?
A: We have a clear brand that communicates our core values of expertise, business experience and collaboration. This is underpinned by the sterling work of our Marketing Director and colleagues in the management team and the expertise of our external graphic design firm, reflected in a strategy, processes and suite of resources.
Q: What are the three most important attributes for a Lawyer to have, if they want to join your firm?
A: Expertise, business acumen and a collaborative spirit (team player) in line with our core values. Necessarily also given our business model, an established practice which will benefit from being positioned as part of a high quality collaborative law firm.
Q: We are aware that you are rapidly expanding, where would you like to see your firm in 2, 5 and 10 years time?
A: We are becoming known as a market-leading revenue share law firm across the world, offering the best terms for lawyers and a warm and collaborative culture.
Within the next 2 years, we will have developed regional hubs across the UK, and substantial practices in key jurisdictions in Europe, as well as in the Middle East, the Caribbean and Asia, notably Hong Kong and Singapore.
Over 5 - 10 years, we will have developed into a pre-eminent global law firm, present in some 40 jurisdictions, driven by our values and community spirit.
From everyone here at Interlink Recruitment we would like to thank Antoine West for taking the time to provide such great insight into the current landscape and culture at Spencer West. We hope this Q&A inspires Lawyers and legal professionals internationally to progress with their career and develop their skills. We look forward to continuing to be a part of the incredible growth of Spencer West.