A West Midlands law firm has become an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) in what is a major legal first for the region.
Mary Morgan – the former CEO and main shareholder of Talbots Law – has taken the decision to sell the majority of her shares to a newly-formed trust.
Talbots – which has offices in Codsall, Dudley, Edgbaston, Halesowen, Kidderminster, Stourbridge and Wolverhampton – says the move to place its 274 staff at the heart of the business will “capture and protect the independent, innovative and passionate people culture of the company.”
Mary Morgan said: “Employee-owned businesses perform better, are more innovative and more profitable and have the security of being owned in a trust, so not subject to being sold or taken over. It was the only decision I could make when looking to sell a significant number of my shares and, most importantly, is excellent for long-term planning and vision.
“It will be business as usual for our thousands of clients and they will continue to receive the excellent level of support, service and legal advice they are accustomed to.”
She added: “The big difference is a positive one for our staff, with the majority of shares now held in trust for the employees’ long-term benefit.”
There are 730 employee-owned businesses in the UK and Talbots joins an illustrious group that includes high profile names, such as the John Lewis Partnership, Unipart Group and Aardman – the studio behind the hugely popular Wallace and Gromit films.
New CEO Dave Hodgetts will work with four appointed trust directors, including operations manager Zoe Fullwood, head of compliance Peter Hill, Ben Morgan – who is the son of late founder Martyn Morgan – and long-term Talbots advisor Lynn Leighton-Johnstone.
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Dave Hodgetts said: “To be clear, this is an important change to the way the business is owned, not how it’s managed or run. With my fellow board of directors, we remain responsible for the business.
“One of the benefits of EOT is we get the best of all worlds; the daily work we all do remains unchanged, but we get the flexibility and freedom that comes with having an employee-owned business.
“It’s a really great time to be driving our business forward and our people will be at the heart of it.”
The transition comes at an exciting time for the law firm, which has seen annual fees grow by 26 per cent during the pandemic to reach an estimated £17 million by the close of 2021.
To cope with the additional demand, 50 additional staff have already been recruited by the firm, which plans to fill 30 new positions between now and the end of the year.
Deb Oxley, chief executive of the Employee Ownership Association, added: “Congratulations to Talbots Law on its transition to employee ownership, securing the ethos, values and culture of the business for the longer-term.
“Firms that empower employees by giving them a stake and ‘a say’ offer great benefits and impact for the individuals and the company, which is also felt by clients and the communities it serves.”