In this article Interlink joins Andrew Smith, Managing Partner of BDB Pitmans for an insightful Q&A. BDB Pitmans is a UK based firm with a technical yet friendly and approachable approach to law, which allows them to deliver a consistently high-quality service to clients. In this Q&A we find out about their culture and values, how they attract and retain the best legal talent, how they use technology to improve their processes and what the future holds for BDB Pitmans.
Q: In your opinion, what differentiates BDB Pitmans from the other UK law firms?
A: BDB Pitmans’ culture is what sets it apart. We strive to be a diverse and inclusive firm that prides itself on its collegiate attitude and collaborative approach. Although outward-looking and focused on the bigger picture, we never lose sight of our core values. In a post-COVID world, we know that now more than ever, our clients care about sustainability, green credentials and sustained relationships that go beyond transactional legal work.
Q: The firm became BDB Pitmans in 2018 following the merger of legacy firms Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans Law. How has this merger benefited your firm?
A: This merger was our first step in a broader strategy to grow the firm. In the short-term it increased our geographical reach and in the long term it has broadened our legal offering, enabling us to strike our characteristic balance between excellent technical advice and friendly guidance. We can now offer clients an even more holistic service.
Q: BDB Pitmans stands by the motto: ‘We approach every case with the bigger picture in mind.’ How does this help you to achieve a more successful outcome for your clients?
A: On one level this motto reflects our belief that it is absolutely vital to get to know our clients in order to be able to understand how any specific legal matter fits into their life or business as a whole. On a broader level it also ties in to our commitment to keeping up with the latest changes across the sectors. As a multidisciplinary firm, we have a rounded view of the legal landscape, with our experts bringing their specific commercial insight to every case. Our clients benefit from our specialists’ ability to balance a broad view of the markets against bespoke legal expertise.
Q: How has growth in technology changed the way you work and helped to improve processes at the firm?
A: BDB Pitmans prides itself on being a modern law firm. Having recognised that a move towards agile working was inevitable, we were well prepared and already had the necessary systems and processes in place ahead of the lockdowns to successfully facilitate remote working. As the world moved in to lockdown we were able to pivot seamlessly to the agile working style in which we currently operate, as exemplified by our 2-2-1 model (two days in the office, two days at home and one flexi day). We continue to innovate with our clients in mind and are taking forward the lessons learned during the pandemic to streamline our processes.
Q: Having previously been head of the firm’s real estate group, what have been some of your career highlights both in your previous and current role at the firm?
The first highlight which comes to mind relating to my current role is of course the merger between Bircham Dyson Bell and Pitmans Law. Integrating two firms was not without its challenges but was ultimately extremely rewarding, resulting in a larger platform and a wider service offering. One of the biggest defining moments post-merger has been the move of our London office into the heart of the City, just a short walk from St Paul’s.
Moving and fitting out the new premises at One Bartholomew Close at the height of the pandemic was undoubtedly complex but this relocation represented a key milestone in the rebrand strategy and one of which we are very proud of.
In my role as Head of the Real Estate group, a career highlight was successfully increasing our profile on the commercial side and also in increasing our involvement in the Real Estate aspects of significant infrastructure projects, adding to our previous leading reputation in the consenting process.
A good example of that was our involvement with the Emirates Air Line cable car project. We advised on both the authorisation and property aspects of this unique (and legally complex) project and it is good to be able to see the result of all that hard work whenever I am in Docklands.
Q: How would you describe the culture and philosophy at BDB Pitmans?
A: Our culture is exemplified by our Building Better brand promise. Our people care about doing things right and well and in making a positive impact on the world beyond the firm. BDB Pitmans’ colleagues work in partnership with their clients, seeking solutions in a friendly, open and positive manner. As much as it is a professional setting, we consider it important for our employees to feel comfortable to be themselves and the culture is one of honesty and openness.
Q: As well as offering competitive salary ranges and benefits packages, are there any additional perks and social incentives that your Lawyers have the opportunity to enjoy?
A: We have introduced a flexible benefits portal which gives colleagues a chance to purchase additional leave, enjoy private medical cover and purchase season tickets to help offset travel costs. Colleagues can even purchase a bike for travel to work through a salary sacrifice arrangement.
In addition to bonuses, we offer generous parental leave and operate a smart pension scheme. We are delighted to be an early adopter of a more formalised agile working structure (the 2-2-1 policy) which helps our people to maintain a better work-life balance.
We have established a number of committees and action groups for our LGBTQ+ and BAME colleagues, as well as an opportunity for staff to help shape their workplace through membership of a diversity and inclusion strategy group. We also run a number of social events across the year. With the return to the office, we have made increased efforts to offer a range of events that cater to all our employees’ needs; for example, moving away from just evening events in order that there is something for everyone to enjoy, regardless of their commitments beyond core hours.
Q: How important is your marketing and social media strategy to create a uniform brand for your business?
A: Brand is one of the six key drivers in our Building Better strategy. Having experts in this area is vital in helping BDB Pitmans to differentiate itself and for showcasing what makes the firm unique. Marketing and social media are crucial for raising visibility, growing the firm’s profile and positioning us as thought leaders. These channels also highlight the values that underpin our day-to-day work, such as our D&I programmes or climate change initiatives.
Q: What are the top three attributes you look for in Lawyers looking to join your firm?
A: It is important to be able to envision any prospective lawyer fitting in well with the firm’s culture. In addition to open-mindedness, friendliness and good communications skills, I prize integrity and initiative.
Q: As you look towards the future, how would you envision BDB Pitmans’ positioning in the market in 2, 5 and 10 years’ time?
A: As the world begins to emerge from the pandemic, it is important that organisations adapt to new employee expectations, particularly those around agile working; at BDB Pitmans we are committed to ensuring that we remain flexible in order to attract and retain talent in a competitive market.
ESG and sustainability are also high on the firm’s agenda so the next few years will be spent implementing our Climate Change Strategy, a collection of measures, policies and practices designed to help us reach our 2050 Net Zero goal. A big part of this will involve meeting the carbon emissions reduction targets set for us by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).
Our commercial objectives will revolve around building on and enhancing the areas in which we are market leaders, growing our regional presence and expanding our reach in order to uncover new practice opportunities. In addition to focusing on streamlining our joined-up services, over the long term we hope to strengthen our profile in specialist areas of law including contentious probate, pensions and housing development. We have our sights set on a variety of growth markets including digital infrastructure, energy and healthtech.
Photo credit: Guy Traynor Photography
From everyone here at Interlink Talent Solutions we would like to thank Andrew Smith for giving such detailed and insightful answers to our questions. It has been a pleasure to work together on this piece and we hope it inspires others with their legal future.