Talbots Law has become an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) in what will be a major legal first for the West Midlands.
Former CEO and main shareholder Mary Morgan has taken the decision to sell the majority of her shares to a newly formed trust that will look to build on the firm’s recent growth and execute a five-year plan that could see the business reach £25m in fees.
The decision was taken to capture and protect the independent, innovative and passionate people culture of the company by placing its 274 staff at the very heart of the legal specialist going forward.
New CEO Dave Hodgetts will work with four appointed trust directors, including Zoe Fullwood (operations manager), Peter Hill (head of compliance), Ben Morgan (son of late founder Martyn Morgan) and Lynn Leighton-Johnstone, a long-term adviser to Talbots.
“Employee-owned businesses perform better, are more innovative and more profitable and have the security of being owned in a Trust, so not subject to being sold or taken over. It was the only decision I could make when looking to sell a significant number of my shares and, most importantly, is excellent for long-term planning and vision,” said Mary Morgan.
“It will be business as usual for our thousands of clients and they will continue to receive the excellent level of support, service and legal advice they are accustomed to.
“The big difference is a positive one for our staff, with the majority of shares now held in trust for the employees’ long-term benefit.”
There are 730 employee-owned businesses in the UK and Talbots joins an illustrious group that includes high profile names, such as the John Lewis Partnership, Unipart Group and Aardman, the studio behind the hugely popular Wallace and Gromit films.
The transition comes at an exciting time for the law firm, which has seen annual fees grow by 26% during the pandemic to reach an estimated £17m by the close of 2021.
To cope with the additional demand, 50 additional staff have been recruited and the plan is to fill 30 new positions between now and the end of the year. These range from administrative roles and trainee solicitors, to experienced residential property experts and director-level appointments.
Dave Hodgetts, who was appointed as CEO in August, picked up the story: “To be clear, this is an important change to the way the business is owned, not how it’s managed or run. With my fellow board of directors, we remain responsible for the business.
“One of the benefits of EOT is we get the best of all worlds; the daily work we all do remains unchanged, but we get the flexibility and freedom that comes with having an employee-owned business.
“It’s a really great time to be driving our business forward and our people will be at the heart of it.”
Deb Oxley, chief executive of the Employee Ownership Association, said: “Congratulations to Talbots Law on its transition to employee ownership, securing the ethos, values and culture of the business for the longer-term.
“Firms that empower employees by giving them a stake and ‘a say’ offer great benefits and impact for the individuals and the company, which is also felt by clients and the communities it serves.”
Talbots recently maintained its Two Star rating in the Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For award, with judges recognising it for outstanding employee engagement and its agile approach to personal development.
The firm also been recognised by Best Companies as one of the Top 20 law firms to work for in the UK.