Ashfords to admit non-lawyers to partnership as it moves beyond law

South West firm Ashfords is set to launch a range of professional, non-legal services to complement its practice areas, as part of its five-year strategic vision.

The spread of products will operate across a range of practice areas and will include services such as project management, health and safety and regulatory advice. Ashfords will run these add-ons from its Bristol, Exeter and London offices as market conditions in those cities are the most suitable.

Partner Garry Mackay said: “We have a very defined strategy in that where we want to be as far as legal services are concerned, that will be our core business but we have those interrelated services as a key feature in our strategy.”

Mackay gave the example of the firm’s IP practice being an ideally suited for non-legal services. He said: “We have a strong intellectual property practice. It makes very good sense for us as a business to build in links with patent agents and trademark agents and so we will be looking to bring that on board.

“It is not just about providing legal services now, we are going to be able to do project management, to send people in and give clients clearance on fire and safety requirements, people will go in and do risk compliance if anything does go wrong.”

The firm has already begun to build its regulatory offering with recent lateral hire former Lyons Davidson head of regulatory corporate crime Richard Voke. Mackay added: “Part of what he [Voke] brought to the table was the proposed structure for driving forward the health and safety side.”

Ashfords will look to initiate people into the business as the delivery of services develops. Mackay explained: “We will look to bring people within Ashfords; there is an element of don’t run before you can walk, so with certain initiatives we will look to have direct links with external organisations at the moment. The aim is to slowly bring them all on board as we find out what works for clients.”

He said that non-lawyer staff brought in to carry out these operations would be eligible to be admitted to the partnership and stated that non-legal staff would be able to become a “major part of the business” and go “as high as they want to get”. He added: “I think a lot of people have bemoaned the market but we have taken it the opposite way and gone for it.”