60 seconds with Sarah Goulbourne - Co-Founder of gunnercooke

Nov 13th, 2017 by Hewetson & Co

gunnercooke was launched in 2010. Why have you been so successful?

I think the reason why we have been so successful is that we are one of the first challenger law firms in the UK to create an innovative model that offers both our lawyers and our clients flexibility, transparency and above all, freedom. But what I believe really sets us apart from our competitors, and what has contributed substantially to our overarching success, is our culture. We passionately believe that without a culture any business model can be copied, which is why we place so much emphasis upon developing and strengthening the ethos and cultural heart of gunnercooke. All our internal initiatives reinforce our gunnercooke personality, to ensure our culture of innovation runs through the very foundation of our business, our lawyers.

If I am an aspiring partner or even a big billing partner, why should I consider your firm?

gunnercooke operates on an innovative profit share model. Each lawyer retains 70% of their fee, meaning our lawyers do not adhere to internal targets while their sole focus is the needs of their clients and delivering an excellent service. Our lawyers also have the freedom and flexibility to choose the way they work, including their own teams, the clients they work for and the hours they work. We operate securely on an entirely cloud based business system, so lawyers can operate and access email, client documents, and internal online ‘networking’ facilities from any location. They also have access to high quality hot-desking spaces and meeting rooms in London, Manchester and Leeds, providing a central space for meeting clients and networking with other lawyers.

Your firm is nominated for UK Law Firm of the Year at The British Legal Awards on 30th November 2017 – after 7 years in existence, being up against such well-established firms must be pleasing?

We are extremely proud to have been nominated for such a prestigious award, and to be included in a category among an array of well-established firms. To be recognised as UK Law Firm of the Year would be a great honour for us, and a testament to the hard work and progress we have made over the past 7 years.

Why do you think the market perceives your firm so favourably over other options available?

We take a creative approach to rethinking the traditional law firm model by challenging, improving, and evolving the way legal services are delivered to businesses. We comprise solely of senior lawyers, with a minimum 10,000 hours’ practicing experience, who operate nationally and internationally across every corporate and commercial legal discipline. Our clients not only benefit from an experienced advisor, we offer an innovative, transparent fee structure, ensuring price certainty. Our lawyers do not time-record, instead they scope a matter fully and give each client a fixed price at the outset, that does not change.

What motivates and inspires you?

I would say my passion for change. I truly believe lawyers should not be the subject to the constraints of modern-day law firms. I want to provide lawyers the opportunity to change and shape their own lives, to give them the opportunity to remember why they chose their profession, and more importantly, what they love about being a lawyer.

You are more than just a law firm – the group has a further four businesses, what can you tell us about these and how do they inter-connect with the parent firm, gunnercooke?

As we are continually seeking new ways to improve our offering, we introduced several new businesses to complement our innovative model. In 2015, we introduced gunnercookeConsulting to provide our clients with both legal / regulatory and consulting expertise. We sought out the best consultants to join us; those who had lived and breathed rapid business growth, business change and what it meant to be operationally excellent. Following its success, we launched gunnercookeOperating Partners in October 2017, comprising of business leaders with over 600 years’ experience in leading, growing and exiting businesses of all shapes and sizes. Operating Partners specialise in advising private equity investors and the management teams of growing companies on how to maximize their opportunities.

We are also extremely passionate about creating real, long-lasting change in the industry, and in 2016 introduced gunnerbloom – a model designed to develop the commercial and entrepreneurial skills of lawyers 3-6 years PQE. The lawyers of gunnerbloom are guided and mentored by the senior advisors within gunnercooke and, where appropriate, they will spend time with gunnercooke clients as well.

Finally, we wanted to encompass all aspects of our business to do good, faster – and so we set up our social business inspire* to support charities within the UK with the corporate funding and support they need.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you wish to be?

Definitely a business owner. I have really enjoyed setting up gunnercooke and its associated businesses. I’m about to launch a new coaching practice as I have recently qualified as a business coach so it looks like my interest in business will continue…

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