As Newcastle-based Clarke Mairs celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, co-founder and partner, Susan Mairs, reflects on how far the law firm has come since 2007.
I founded Clarke Mairs LLP with Tim Clarke and Paul Rushworth in 2007. Our vision was to create a partner-led commercial law firm in Newcastle that acted for businesses and individuals nationwide. At the time, the trend was for larger firms, but we wanted a more streamlined firm where we would offer expert legal advice, and at the right price. The legal market seemed to be moving in the direction of smaller niche firms, and we found clients to be extremely receptive.
Planning for our new firm took time, and was against the backdrop of a booming economy. We had planned to open our doors on September 1, 2007 – which ended up being a matter of days after Northern Rock customers queued around the block to withdraw savings. It was right at the cusp of the global financial crisis and an onlooker could be excused of questioning our wisdom. Oddly though, it actually helped us to develop our vision further, heightening our focus and encouraged us to work even harder.
We gained a number of clients during that period who were looking more closely at costs and legal bills and have stayed with us due to our approach and service. We learned a lot of things in those early years about running a business, and I am delighted we weathered the storm so well. As we celebrate our 10-year anniversary, it’s an opportunity to reflect on our success.
Over the past decade, our turnover has almost tripled and our staff has doubled (creating the need to move to larger premises in 2013). But we’ve kept close to our original intentions – not to grow for the sake of it – and our business decisions have always focused on how best to meet our client’s needs.
From the outset, Clarke Mairs has been well-regarded for its property, company commercial, litigation and insolvency services, having been ranked now for many years in Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500, for insolvency. Over the last 10 years, we have identified areas into which we wanted to develop, and I am delighted we now have a thriving wills and probate department (led by two lawyers who are both full members of STEP), and a leasehold enfranchisement department (led by a member of ALEP).
The key to Clarke Mairs’ growth has been having the right people on board – technically very good lawyers, of course, but also ones who ask the right questions to pinpoint what their client’s needs are, and tailoring advice accordingly. As it happens, at Clarke Mairs, women outnumber men, 4:1, and we pride ourselves on our flexible working approach. For instance, I largely work remotely. Investment in high-quality IT systems continues to be a priority for the firm, and we have just replaced our infrastructure earlier this year.
Our 10-year milestone is a great opportunity for us to thank every member of our firm for all the hard work they do every day. Also, sincere thanks goes to all our clients (and referrers of work), for their continued support; it is much appreciated and never taken for granted.
As a firm, we have held many events this year from a client get-together at Wylam Brewery, to a golf day at Close House, trips to Murrayfield, Durham CCC matches, and Champagne tasting evenings, but now is the time to start focusing on another successful decade.