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Forget whatever impression you have of law firms in Cornwall, because five-partner firm Follet Stock is bound to turn it on its head. The 16-year-old Truro firm has sent shockwaves through the local legal market since it was established with its modern, confident and forthright style.
Managing partner: Chris Lingard Turnover: £1.6m Total number of partners: Five Total number of fee-earners: 26 Main practice areas: Corporate, energy, dispute resolution, IP and employment Key clients: Finance Cornwall, Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust, Carrick District Council, Baltic Pine, Datasharp UK Number of offices: One Location: Truro
Chris Lingard, who was voted in as the firm's first managing partner in October last year, says: "As a recent entry to the Cornish legal market we didn't begin with a large client base, so we have had to go out there and get market share."
The firm is certainly not shy about marketing its brand. Recent client events have included a Grease sing-along, at which guests and staff dressed up in leather jackets and sported combed-back hair. Follet Stock also employs a customised Smart Car and a banner-pulling aeroplane.
Lingard claims the firm's ethos is to take the best bits of City practices and bring them to Cornwall. The firm's offices have an "advertising feel" to them, he says, and staff will stay in the office as late as necessary. "This may be commonplace in London," he says, "but it's not so commonplace in Cornwall."
The City's influence is also reflected in the firm's recruitment policy, with all of the firm's lawyers having trained at, or worked in, London or other large legal centres.
The strategy seems to have paid off. Follet Stock has seen turnover shoot up by 202 per cent in the last five years to £1.6m, while the firm's headcount has increased from 13 to 40 over the same period.
Lingard's key target as managing partner is to ensure that the firm continues to grow. "The business had been moving so fast and there was a recognition that it needed someone to drive it forward," Lingard says of his appointment.
Client care is an important area for Follet Stock. In addition to the 1970s musical nights, lawyers make an effort to talk to in-house counsel about what they want from instructed firms. Name partner Martin Follett is responsible for client care.
Staff motivation is also high on Lingard's agenda and every month the practice holds what he calls a "champagne moment", where the employee that has made the biggest difference to the firm receives a prize.
Follet Stock also ensures all staff have access to the firm's financial performance, with weekly statistics published internally.
An Exeter office is next on the horizon, with the firm looking to launch there in the next two years. "The legal market's pretty complacent there," Lingard argues. Not for much longer.