Firm profile: Fox Hayes

Unlike the city’s football team, Leeds’ Fox Hayes is on the up. The management at Elland Road could do with some of managing partner Philip Drazen’s dynamism. “We’re a very progressive practice,” says the 41-year-old former commodities trader. “We have a good business and now we’re ready to do other things. We’re aiming to make this a £10m practice by 2007.”

The Yorkshire firm is more than 100 years old, and as Drazen admits, previously needed a shake-up. It had a sound reputation, but there was a sense among its competitors that it lacked direction. The first signs of change began some seven years ago, with the creation of specialised departments and centres of excellence. “Back then, we had a staff of 21,” says Drazen. “Now we’ve got 138 people working here, and the only reason there aren’t more is because of lack of space.”

That problem will soon be solved when Fox Hayes moves into new premises in Leeds. The building will assist Drazen in his aim to increase staff numbers to 200 within the next 18 months. Its central location will also dramatically increase the firm’s profile. And with substantial investment in state-of-the-art technology, Fox Hayes hopes to appear every inch the slick 21st century legal practice.

Drazen says that the firm’s niche strengths are the key to its success. These include a French property department, a partner with expertise in handling Nasdaq flotations, and specialist expertise in regulatory issues in the toy, gift and nursery industries. However, the sense of progression is also carried over into the core practice areas, with e-conveyancing being enthusiastically greeted by Fox Hayes – clients are sent regular text messages updating them on the status of their transactions.

Drazen is especially proud of the Fox Hayes Entrepreneurs Club, launched in 2000. The club is a monthly forum where companies seeking funding are paired up with investors. It has proved so successful that it is now being franchised across the country via a standalone company. “The club has grown beyond our wildest expectations,” says Drazen, who chairs the Entrepreneurs Club. “We now have 800 live investors, which makes us the second-largest investors’ club in the country.”

Fox Hayes has an impressive array of big-name clients, but Drazen insists that the firm’s biggest strength is its staff. “We have an open-door policy and I take three members of staff out for lunch once a week so that we can all get to know each other. Our staff are incentivised and we make sure they get the work-life balance right. There’s no room for the big-firm mentality of slogging in the office forever to get Brownie points.”

The firm’s turnover has increased by 600 per cent in the past six years and Drazen says the work keeps coming. “We may not be in the Premier League in Leeds, but we’re 35 per cent over budget this year. Within the next three years we should be in the top three of Division One,” he says. Unfortunately, the same might also be said of Leeds United FC.

Fox Hayes
Managing partner Philip Drazen
Turnover £5m
Total number of partners 10
Total number of solicitors 25
Main practice areas Commercial, conveyancing, personal injury, matrimonial
Key clients Chicco, Frazer Hart, Gulf Veteran Association, ICM, Safestyle, Sainsbury’s
Number of offices One
Location Leeds