It is not every law firm founder who can say they have done jobs as varied as working in a haulage firm, an estate agents and at McDonald’s, but Phil Hyland is one.
Hyland founded employment law boutique PJH Law in 2002 after travelling a route that can most accurately be described as circuitous. And all without a training contract.
Hyland relied on his experience, including a degree in Politics and Law, years working in Hull City Council’s legal section and a stint alongside employment specialist Judge Humphrey Forrest at the Humberside Law Centre, to convince the Law Society to waive the requirement for a training contract. After a little prodding the society agreed and Hyland was admitted to the roll of solicitors in 1998 aged 32.
Four years later, after just one year at a local law firm, Hyland set in motion the creation of PJH.
“The idea was to be very much principles-led,” says Hyland. “For example, when it comes to billing we charge what both we and the clients are happy with, we don’t just record everything
by the clock.”
In a similar vein, most of PJH’s employer clients pay annual retainers but without any handcuff agreements.
The firm also advises employees, with the split around 60-40 in favour of employers.
This flexible approach has not hurt the financials. The firm has achieved organic growth of between 10 and 20 per cent in every year bar two since 2002. Turnover last year stood at £500,000, with a profit margin of around 40 per cent – a figure boosted by PJH’s e-learning products.
Flexibility is also the watchword when it comes to the firm’s own employees.
“Everyone works part-time apart from two people,” says Hyland. “The two partners do four days a week and it doesn’t harm productivity at all.”
Founder: Phil Hyland
Number of partners: Two
Number of equity partners: Two
Number of lawyers: Four
Number of fee-earners: Five
Number of offices: One
Main practice area: Employment law
Key clients: Lavendon, Nottingham Building Society, Siemens Communications, West Ham United, YourCash