Lawshare, the referrals and support network, run by Full Service, Top 100 Law Firm JMW, has recently turned ten! Having worked with The Cashroom for a number of years, as one of their preferred partners, we thought we’d catch up with one of the Lawshare team, namely – Partner, Peter Finkill-Coombs.
CR: So Peter, ten years of Lawshare, what an achievement. Can you tell us about the background to how it all started and your involvement?
PFC: Certainly, I’ve only been part of the Lawshare team for a little over a year now but have long been aware of the scheme and it has been great to work in such a tightknit and committed team, albeit it has been something of a strange year!
I’ve always admired the Lawshare concept which was already on my radar before joining JMW. Like all good ideas, a very straightforward premise. Our members, who cover a broad spectrum, can ensure they assist their clients by referring work to JMW from those enquiries they generate but that fall outside the specialist areas of work their firm undertake. For every matter we take on, at its conclusion, we profit share with the referrer. Whether we open a file or not, we speak to every client and feedback on each enquiry. A point of difference that our members often tell us sets us apart from previous referral relationships they’ve had experience of.
I personally hail from a Chambers background and got to know Stuart (Stuart Cartwright -Head of Lawshare) during my time as national head of BD for Doughty Street Chambers. I was able to supply speakers, including leading Silks, as part of the free CPD seminar programme that Lawshare run throughout the year for its members.
Stuart has been the head of Lawshare since its inception a decade ago but has been at JMW for over 25 years, he won’t thank me for saying that ha ha! Formerly a partner in JMW’s well regarded Business Crime team, Stuart was approached by, our then new, Senior Partner Joy Kingsley to head up her brainchild – Lawshare. After some initial persuading, because I think he loved the cut and thrust of criminal work, particularly the advocacy, he picked up the idea and ran with it. He fondly regales us with stories of the early days, which he describes as running around Manchester with a Blackberry and Joy’s book of contacts! The tech reference rather dates that doesn’t it! I’m sure anyone who knows Stuart will know it will have been a slick approach.
But from small beginnings he has grown Lawshare into the very successful department it is today, dealing with thousands of enquires per annum from members all over the country. When the opportunity arose and Stuart approached me about joining his team…I was already sold.
CR: Despite the Pandemic I understand Lawshare have reached something of a milestone in last year?
PFC: Yes! That’s right. We were delighted to announce our 500th member. We work with so many different firms and individuals it was a pleasure to welcome new start up Capa Law into the fold. As personal injury litigation specialists they wanted, right from the off, to ensure they had a system in place so they could assist their clients in areas of law they don’t undertake. Membership offers that wraparound service in a streamlined way.
CR: As a Full Service Firm, what’s preventing you from acting for the client in other areas of law though?
PFC: Very good point! Our guarantee to only act for the client on the referred piece of work underpins what Lawshare is all about. Our members value this guarantee and knowing their client will be so well looked after, almost as much, if not more than the financial rewards of profit sharing. We’ve sophisticated software in place which ring-fences every enquiry and should a client return on a future occasion we signpost them back to the referrer.
CR: With a department so driven by ‘traditional’ business development how did you adapt during the pandemic?
PFC: Like a lot of Law Firms and the wider business community for that matter, we were very concerned, not only regarding the financial landscape for JMW and our Lawshare members, but more importantly for everyone’s health.
We’ve developed engrained relationships over the years and look to support our members in any way we can. In the early stages, Stuart ran a regular blog that went out to members. Stuart sits on the board so was able to give insight and share tips from ‘the top’ here at JMW. Despite the broad-church that is our membership, we were unified by common problems, perhaps only differentiated by scale. We were able to provide solutions for office practicalities and make introductions where firms needed to quickly mobilise a workforce to work remotely.
Members were able to tap into our specially selected buying group Lawsave, of which they get free access. Amongst the offerings under the Lawsave umbrella are a number of products and services that all help to drive down the cost and improve the efficiency of running a practice. Members were looking introspectively like they perhaps never have before and outsourcing and online solutions to problems they never thought they’d have. Being able to call on Lawsave and the preferential rates and discounts it offers came at time when the bottom line has never been to important.
We transposed our free CPD seminar programme online and like the rest of the world embraced Zoom and other such platforms like never before!
As the year wore on we realised engagement was up and I think as the public perception regarding a geographical emphasis about where legal services are carried out has helped broaden our reach. Amongst our membership we now have member firms in my home town city of Newcastle, the South Coast, Kent, Essex, Wales and even Spain! We’re very proud of our Manchester roots and needless to say still enjoy a great stronghold in the North West. The advent of our London office (which opened 2 years ago and has over 100 staff) and recruitment of partner Abby Winkworth has only helped galvanise our now national presence.
CR: So with regards to growing the network, how do people get involved with Lawshare?
PFC: Very straightforward. Lawshare membership is free of charge with no ongoing cost, nor minimum commitment. We have members who utilise the scheme on a more than daily basis and others we perhaps only hear from now and again. The similarity being is we’re always on hand to service those enquiries in exactly the same way, no matter who they come from and with what frequency. The reason for Lawshare’s year on year growth is down to a few key factors, simplicity, transparency and red hot service levels. Members and prospective members can contact us anytime using firstname.lastname@example.org. Where the team will process enquires and be more than happy to discuss with those wishing to join or learn more about Lawshare.
Peter’s direct contact details can also be found below –
Peter Finkill-Coombs, Partner – Lawshare
Peter.email@example.com D: 0161 828 1957 M: 07595 277 843