It may look sleek and professional, but a change of brand can result in a loss of public identity, as GSC Solicitors managing partner Saleem Sheikh can testify.
“The GSC brand isn’t as well known as Green David Conway was,” admits Sheikh.
Holborn-based GSC Solicitors was founded as Green David Conway in 1972 by John Green – today a consultant with the firm. In 1997 it rebranded itself as Green Sheikh & Co before the Law Society lifted restrictions on firms using acronyms as brands and it became GSC Solicitors.
For Sheikh, however, branding is not the be-all and end-all. “Because we’re not a strong brand we’ve placed the emphasis on providing a strong commercial service,” he says.
The firm has traditionally aimed to carve niches within its core practice areas. The property practice, for example, specialises in headquarter moves and partner Harvey Posener regularly advises law firms on this area. It also specialises in property investors and franchises, acting for the largest KFC franchise holders in the UK.
Sheikh claims GSC’s property practice is more recession-proof than most because it has been planning for it. The firm has been looking for new niche areas and is currently recruiting clients in the Jewish and Bangladeshi communities.
Ahead of the last economic downturn in the early 1990s, Sheikh manoeuvred GSC into the intellectual property arena with a particular focus on the media industry. The firm is now planning to ramp up its litigation practice and recently appointed former Irwin Mitchell partner Amina Somers to push the growth of its litigation practice. It is a rare lateral hire for the firm, which prefers to grow organically.
GSC may not have the brand, but its managing partner is clear about how he wants to grow the practice and this forthright thinking should see it through the downturn.
Firm: GSC Solicitors
Managing partner: Saleem Sheikh
Turnover: £5m (estimated)
Number of partners: Nine
Number of equity partners: Four
Number of fee-earners: 23
Number of offices: One
Main practice areas: Commercial property, IP, company commercial
Main clients: Channel 4, PPL, Universal