Field Seymour Parkes (FSP) managing partner Philip Seymour admits: “We’re slightly unusual. We have 13 partners, of which eight are female.”
Seymour is proud to demonstrate that FSP is an equal opportunities employer. “While a lot of firms have junior female lawyers, if you look upstream not many firms can boast the number of female partners that we have,” he says.
Indeed, not only do women make up 62 per cent of FSP’s partnership, they also account for 42 per cent of the firm’s equity partnership.
“This was not a conscious decision, it just happened,” says Seymour. “We’re happy to give anyone who’s worth it an opportunity. If someone is good we’ll bend over backwards to keep them in the firm.”
He adds: “We’re also very open-minded with regards to maternity leave and we enable people to have lives outside the firm.”
FSP was established in 1987 and is the result of the merger of several smaller Reading firms. Its main clients are medium-sized corporations and high-net-worth individuals, to which the firm provides commercial and private client services advice from its various departments, which include the banking, corporate and dispute resolution teams, as well as family and employment groups.
The firm also boasts Reading Football Club as a key client and is instructed on “all of their work, which is very interesting and exciting stuff”, according to Seymour.
In the past few years, the firm’s corporate, probate and trusts teams have expanded significantly and Seymour identifies the property department as noticeably expanding further.
“While we’re always on the look-out for the odd niche area, we’re pretty happy with our present style and the way things are going. We have no particular plans for a change of direction,” he says.
What Seymour is not happy about, however, is market speculation that certain supermarkets and banks, which are beginning to offer legal services, may pose a threat to firms such as FSP.
“We’re anxious to demonstrate that, by offering partner-led services, we won’t lose out to banks and supermarkets such as Tesco,” says Seymour. “These days we have to cut costs accordingly as there are an awful lot of people out there who think they can take away a chunk of our business.
“Maybe, however, sensible clients can see through all the hype and rubbish and will stick with us, as they know they can pick up the phone to us morning, noon or night and not be part of a chain or a production line.”
Managing partner: Philip Seymour Turnover: £6.2m Total number of partners: 13 Total number of fee-earners: 54 Number of offices: One Location: Reading