Robert Bryars and Martin Sissons
Total number of partners: 18
Total number of fee-earners: 77
Main practice areas: Commercial property, company and commercial, crime, personal injury and medical negligence, private client and residential conveyancing
Key clients: Cendant Mobility, Fretwell-Downing Group, GR Industries, Heltcorp, Hillcare, NH Greaves & Co, Servo Computer Services and TKL
Number of offices: One
The last 12 months represented a year of change for Ashton Morton Slack, the largest non-national law firm in Sheffield, which reverted from AMS Law, as it had been called for the past five years, to its old, more traditional name. “We didn’t think that the name suited the kind of image that we wanted to portray,” says managing partner Robert Bryars. “We’re not an LA Law-style, flashy firm, so we reverted to our old name after a rebrand. The previous 15 years we had been known as Ashton Morton Slack and we felt that we lost some of our identity when we changed our name.”
Bryars claims that the rebranding was far more than a renaming. It included a major restructuring of the way the firm delivers services. “We’ve been working on new strategy for 18 months and have changed the firm dramatically,” says Bryars. “We thought we lacked direction and, like many law firms, we’d grown but we hadn’t grown as one. Effectively, there were nine separate firms within the practice with separate departments, and each department was running the business the way that they wanted. Now they’ve been brought together.”
The firm now organises work into three divisions: business, personal injury (PI) and private client.
More than 50 per cent of the practice is claimant PI work, and the firm represents several household insurance companies, including Admiral, and two trade unions, including the shop workers’ union Usdaw. “Although we’re based in Sheffield, our reputation in PI has attracted a national client base,” says Bryars.
During the recent overhaul the firm created a business division. It acted for Sheffield-based GR Industries in its acquisition of the Bradford-based cosmetics industry supplier Harmer Personal Care (now renamed Hallam Beauty) last month for an undisclosed sum. The move boosted the company’s turnover for the coming year from £45m to £60m.
Last year the firm won the ‘Training and Development’ category in the Sheffield Business Awards. Bryars says the “strategic goal” is to be listed within The Sunday Times’s top 100 places to work. “This will be achieved through a commitment to the firm’s award-winning in-house training programme and fostering an inclusive culture,” he says. “The philosophy puts the focus on people, and I believe that can be seen in the levels of client service. We’re friendly and we work with our clients, which gives us an edge over our competitors.”