James Hunt is a solicitor, serial entrepreneur and founder of Everyman Legal – a new type of law firm providing legal services for entrepreneurs. The company of solicitors is the first in the UK to announce it will take advantage of the new practising regime created under the Legal Services Act by seeking a stock market admission. The company intends to trade its shares on Sharemark – a stock market for smaller companies – in the last quarter of 2012. In an honest and open account for Real Business, James Hunt will be charting the ups and downs of preparing his company for an admission.
So that’s it: we’ve made our intentions public to float on Sharemark.
I can’t help feeling a little uneasy. I’ve now put myself and our firm firmly under the microscope by announcing that we intend to apply for admission to Sharemark in 2012.
We will be the first law firm in the UK to do so. But I’m committed now and I have to quickly turn my thoughts to the meetings our PR consultants have arranged with the Financial Times and The Law Society Gazette (the main weekly magazine for solicitors).
Our PR consultants have put me through the mill, asking me all types of questions from the respective angles that journalists may take. I remember that I must stick to the main points of the story and think about what the most important messages are to get across for the respective audiences of each publication.
The meeting with the Law Society Gazette is first. The journalist is particularly interested in the potential risks entailed with admission to Sharemark. I explain that there are risks in most decisions of this nature but that standing still while the profession is rapidly changing would be the greatest risk of them all and I intend to be at the forefront of the revolution taking place in the legal market place.
Next came my meeting with the FT. It was a beautifully sunny day as I walked over London Bridge to get to their offices. I hoped it would be an omen.
On meeting, the journalist suggested we sit outside and make the most of the unseasonal weather, so we walked to nearby Borough Market and eventually sat on a wall by the river – not quite what I expected for my first meeting with the FT!
I’d been advised to expect no longer than 20 minutes with the FT. In fact, our meeting lasted an hour. Unsurprisingly, a great deal of the questions related to the financial aspects of the admission to Sharemark and how I was going to grow my business.
We timed the announcement for October 6 to coincide with “Big Bang day” for solicitors, when Alternative Business Structures (ABSs) can first be licensed. This will open up the legal market and increase competition and choice for consumers. Non-solicitors will be allowed to own and manage law firms alongside solicitors as an ABS, opening up the possibility of market admission and access to capital markets.
The process of building profile and making connections has clearly begun. It has been a momentous week and there is no turning back now.
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