Business Law & Compliance

The traditional bricks and mortar legal businesses revolution

5 min read

19 August 2013

Ever seen the Eagle motor car? E-Type Jaguar on the outside married with revolutionary engineering under the bonnet. Founders Simon and Katy on how Absolute Barrister is just as revolutionary.

Name:

Simon and Katy Gittins

Role and company:

Founders of Absolute Barrister. Where Simon is the CEO, Katy Gittins is COO.

Company turnover (and most recent ebitda/most relevant profitability metric):

£200-400k (est)

Employee numbers:

Absolute Barrister has a virtual team of around ten and direct access to around 100 barristers, with around a third of that number active. 

Growth forecast for the next three years:

We have an ambitious forecast for the next three years, but are expecting to see rapid growth. We expect to multiply our current turn over several times over.  

In under 50 words, what makes your business distinctive in its marketplace:

Have you ever seen the Eagle motor car? E-Type Jaguar on the outside married with revolutionary engineering under the bonnet. We are no different. Absolute Barrister takes the traditional values of the Bar, excellence and top notch ethics, and supports them with bespoke technology and business processes designed to make getting legal advice as easy as buying web services.

What’s the big vision for your business?

We are aiming to evolve the Absolute Barrister brand, and to make world class legal advice price effective so that usage goes from reactionary to strategic. People don’t ask the experts before they do something because they think it’s too expensive (it isn’t!) and fear that they won’t get a definitive answer (which they will!).

Current level of international business, and future aspirations:

We have given advice to overseas businesses and private clients, but most of our clients have a presence in the UK. This is something we will be well positioned to tackle head on next year.

Biggest career setback and what you learned from it:

Not setting up the business earlier! Though this motivates every day – we are always evolving – so maybe it wasn’t such a big setback after all… 

What makes you mad in business today?

Overcharging. It’s happened in law for years, with solicitors charging by the hour then delivering shock bills to their clients. We’re against it and find it maddening when we get a new client who has wasted thousands of pounds, effectively for nothing. There’s just no excuse. 

What will be the biggest change in your market in the next three years?

Revolution against traditional bricks and mortar legal businesses who are stuck with large numbers of expensive partners and who can’t embrace deregulation! There we go… the secret’s out!

Can businesses in your sector/industry access the finance they need to grow? If not, what can be done to improve things?

Not yet. Most legal businesses are partnerships or groups of self-employed practitioners, but due to recent changes, there are now options to offer legal advice under the guise of a limited company, with more to follow. Only then will finance to the sector become regularised.

Also, we would say that a large number of lawyers don’t understand the market effect of deregulation, so it is difficult to expect financiers to do the same. However, there are many signs that some very large investors are wising up…we’re always listening!

How would others describe your leadership style?

Indefatigable. Charming. (We’ll let you guess to whom each adjective relates!) 

Your biggest personal extravagance?

Stealing a secret afternoon and heading to the beach.

You’ve got two minutes with the prime minister. Tell him how best to set the UK’s independent, entrepreneurial businesses free to prosper:

Create a government-funded body that will take responsibility for all of the regulations a small business has to encounter and leave entrepreneurs to innovate and go surfing.
Even if you just want to sell something over the internet, there are in excess of 20 pieces of legislation you have to consider, not to mention guidance, advertising and industry specific regulation.