The Hardman Partnership

Managing partner:

John Hardman
2005 turnover : £1.1m
Number of partners: Two
Number of fee-earners: 10 (including partners)
Key clients: B3 Cable Solutions, Egmont Books
Office location: Manchester

Manchester-based firm The Hardman Partnership was founded by managing partner John Hardman in 1993. The firm has since grown to eight assistants and two partners and has developed from providing predominantly corporate and commercial advisory work to branching out into a wider range of practice areas.

Hardman says: “The firm has developed to the extent that we now do a significant amount of employment work and larger amounts of litigation work. Employment in particular has been a case of seeing the demand and then following it.”

Demand for its employment services has increased to such an extent that the firm recently launched a product called ’employment solutions’ in a bid to fill a gap in the market. This is a package of employment services that insures employers against potential costs and advises them on employment law issues that should be considered in order to avoid potential disputes with employees.

Hardman says: “We see it as a significant selling point. There was a consciousness that we, and solicitors generally, were losing clients and losing market share to non-solicitor companies.

“Solicitors are being far too reactive. If a client has a problem, they will see their solicitor and discuss it. Our aim is that the problem will not happen in the first place.”

Hardman says the firm’s typical clients are smaller or medium-sized companies, such as London-based children’s publisher Egmont Books and telephone cable manufacturer B3 Cable Solutions.

Hardman says: “In terms of corporate transactional work, the scale of the deals has increased very substantially. This year we advised on a couple of transactions worth around £30m.”

The firm has identified IT as a potential growth area. “We want to capitalise on an area we’ve worked on for a number of years, which is IT,” says Hardman. “This is clearly a fast-moving area.”

Hardman says the firm prides itself on “applying traditional principles to client relationships”.

He adds: “We do not see clients as cash machines, but as people.”

Of the firm’s internal strategy, Hardman says: “We aim to motivate and retain lawyers. Obviously we can’t keep everyone. If you go to a large national firm your work-life balance will be blown apart. There’s a discernible rebellion against it.”

On the subject of recruiting, he adds: “It’s particularly difficult for a small firm to make the right lateral hires.

“We’d look for someone who’s leaving a national regional firm because they’re looking for a change in lifestyle.”