Among the ancient buildings and dreaming spires of Oxford, there is a quiet revolution going on.
At least that is what you’ll hear if you speak to Simon McCrum, managing partner at 61-lawyer full-service firm Darbys.
Not afraid to shake the tree, McCrum was a surprise appointment when he joined the firm in September 2007 after 12 years at Pannone.
Darbys has longstanding relationships with traditional clients such as Blenheim Palace and several Oxford colleges, but partners took the radical step to name McCrum, a self-confessed “innovator” with marketing success like “no one else in the business”, after they heard his plans to revolutionise the business of marketing law services.
But exactly what those plans are remain a closely guarded secret.
“I had a vision about how we could seize opportunities that the legal market will offer in light of the Legal Services Act,” says a cagey McCrum, who spent 2008 putting his plans in place and describes the revamped Darbys as an “E-Type Jaguar with a turbo on the back”.
While at Pannone, the confident McCrum created the law firm referral scheme Connect2Law, which now has more than 1,000 law firms as members. It was as a franchisee of that scheme – which is now owned by Pannone – that Darbys first made contact with McCrum, who says he is trying to replicate that success with his new venture, with the full backing of Darbys’ partners.
“There are a lot of revolutions going on in business at the moment,” explains McCrum. “Over the past 12 months we have both improved Darbys as a successful traditional law firm and launched something much more radical.
We appear to be up despite the recession and have five lawyers joining this month – we’ll make a big push on our plan from 2009 onwards.”
McCrum has promised to spill the beans later this year, but for now he remains tight-lipped. “It’s all a gamble,” he says mischievously. “But so far, so good.”
We are all agog.
Firm: Darbys Managing partner: Simon McCrum Turnover: £8m Number of partners: 25 Number of equity partners: Nine Number of lawyers: 61 Number of fee-earners: 87 Number of offices: One Location: Oxford Main practice areas: Private client, corporate, commercial property, employment, litigation, wills and trusts, clinical negligence, crime Clients: Blenheim Palace, British Horse Society, Euromedic, Fabulous Bakin’ Boys