Nigel Clark

S2 E3    19 April 2022

New Law models that promote flexibility and freedom

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New Law models that promote flexibility and freedomNigel Clark
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Nigel Clark 

CEO,  nexa law

Nigel Clark is the CEO of nexa law, an innovative and fast-growing UK-based law business.

He is an international lawyer and an expert in New Law business models. He has had a curiosity about legal business structures for many years and managed cross-border legal services businesses in cities from London and Beijing for a large international law firm.

Nigel most recently co-founded and managed Peregrine Law in London which was acquired by nexa law in January 2020.

In this episode, I pick his brains on New Law structures and learn more about what nexa law offers.

Bio

Show notes

Links

Transcript

Comments

Bio:

Nigel Clark is the CEO of nexa law, an innovative and fast-growing law business.

Nigel has extensive experience in managing legal services businesses in the UK and internationally. He’s a passionate business developer and people person. Nigel most recently co-founded and managed Peregrine Law in London which was acquired by nexa law in January 2020. Before that, he managed offices for a leading international firm, Minter Ellison, in London and Beijing.

Nigel has also worked as a lawyer in Sydney and Hong Kong. As a lawyer, Nigel qualified in the UK in 1999 and in Australia in 2007. He used to advise on all aspects of finance, cross border M&A and restructuring and combined this with managing professionals, teams and offices.

 

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Show notes:

  • [2:27] Nigel describes how he came to develop the nexa law model with his initial business partner as a back-office platform and connector for lawyers.

  • [6:33] Nigel talks about the difference between rainmakers and technicians, and how the nexa law model tries to meet the needs of both while growing its business platform.

  • [9:14] Nigel explains the New Law market and some of the different models and drivers.

  • [14:03] Connex,the nexa law combined practice offering, balances the rainmakers with technicians.

  • [17:13] A huge advantage of nexa is choice - choice for lawyers and choice for consumers of legal services from City to High Street.

  • [21:01] nexa lawyers work in teams and as individuals - Nigel explains how. COVID and innovations in precedent development has accelerated alternative law models.

  • [26:54] We talk culture, collaboration and collegiality - alll strengths of nexa.

  • [29:47] Alternative models like nexa also promote diversity - from gender to age to career paths. 

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Links:

nexa law: www.nexa.law

nexa's Diversity in Law event on 28 April 2022

Other New Law models mentioned in this podcast:

Axiom Law

Keystone Law

lawyers on demand

Vario from Pinsent Masons

Flex from Minter Ellison

Re:link from Linklaters

 
 
 
Nigel Clark IQ IG.png
 

Transcript: 

 

Geraldine  0:12  
Hello everyone and welcome to the New Earth lawyer podcast where we feature lawyers who are changing the practice of law to change the world. My name is Geraldine Johns-Putra. I'm your host. I'm speaking to you from Melbourne, Australia, and this is Boonwurrung country. I wish to pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging. Welcome to Episode 3 of Season 2. My guest today comes from the UK. He is the CEO of an innovative and fast-growing law firm known as nexa law. His name is Nigel Clark. He has extensive experience in managing legal services businesses in the UK and internationally. He's a passionate developer of business and a people person. Nigel most recently co-founded and managed Peregrine Law in London. It was acquired by nexa law in January 2020. Nigel, welcome to the show. I haven't spoken to you in ages, and it's been great to catch up with you. I haven't heard from you directly about nexa law. So I would love to start with a description of what it is and how it's different.

 

Nigel  1:22  
Thanks, Geraldine. And it's very nice to see you and to catch up. Nexa is, I hesitate to call it a law firm, because I think what we're trying to do is everything that a traditional law firm isn't, it's effectively a new law platform for lawyers to deliver legal services directly to their clients, we are a regulated legal business, our lawyers engage with us as consultants, they are self employed, and we share fees with them. And, I've not described it very well, but we are a modern new model law firm in the UK, because our regulators allow us to operate in this way. 

 

Geraldine  2:11  
I see, so you're not a traditional law firm at all, you're actually, you've actually got these independent consultant lawyers who you contract with, and then you have a fee arrangement with them. So it's not at all like the partnership model.

 

Nigel  2:27  
No, the product ultimately is the same. We deliver legal services and are paid for clients' legal advice. And we are regulated in the same manner in the UK by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, which is our regulator over here. But everything away from that, in the sort of back office area and structure-wise is completely different to a traditional partnership. When I moved back from Asia, at the end of 2014 back to the UK, and various countries around the world are moving at different speeds in terms of opening up law, beyond ownership just by lawyers and that sort of stuff and Australia is is quite advanced in this as is the UK, some territories, Hong Kong, the US, certain states of the US are now freeing up, I know Arizona and some other states, Delaware, are looking at this, traditionally, in most countries around the world law firms had to be owned by lawyers. And you could have external capital and that sort of stuff.  In the UK, it was around 2007, there was a Legal Services Act which allowed non-lawyer ownership and structures to become different, but it's taken quite a long time for any of these models to gain any sort of market traction. When I came back, sorry, when I came back to the UK, a very good friend of mine, who just happens to be a lawyer, he was a friend of my brother's, I came back and he was one of the first people I caught up with, when I was back in the UK and had a cup of coffee. Now he's, like you, a very skilled corporate law or was by trade. He took himself out of the City of London from a big law, he was offered partnership at a big law firm and decided that he just wanted to do it on his own. And he talked to his clients who were fast growth businesses similarly aged to him at that time in their early 30s and just said if I just set up on my own and make sure that I've got insurance, would you work with me? And they went, yeah. So he's been doing that for 18 years now or something, and he just worked out a way where he needed, he didn't want to do the compliance, the back office, the invoicing, he didn't want to buy his own professional indemnity insurance. So he needed to sort of reverse his business into a regulated entity. And so I was catching up with Ben at that time and looked at it. And his clients loved him. I talked to his clients and they just went, well, we get Ben, we just know we get Ben, that's all we want. He looks after us. And these were not top end Wall Street, City of London, you know, Asia big corporates, but they were what I would call mid-market corporates. So you know, turnover of 200 million type businesses, so not small business, very sophisticated C suites, etc. and shareholders of businesses, but they just had their lawyer. And they didn't really care what the structure was, they had legal advice from him and knew that he was devoted to them 24/7. So when I came back from having left Minter Ellison, a very large law firm, I wanted to do something a little bit entrepreneurial. I said to Ben, well, I'm interested in what you do, why don't we find lots of lawyers? There must be others, like you in London and around. Why don't we find more English qualified lawyers that work, or want to work like you do? And we'll house them. And that was Peregrine was owned 50-50 by myself and Ben, and we started to build a business on that basis and tried to find other lawyers who just wanted to be client facing and have all the back office done for them, basically. 

 

Geraldine  6:29  
Right, and was it easy to find those lawyers?

 

Nigel  6:33  
It's very... it's great now with hindsight, sort of seven years on, it's very easy to find lawyers that want to work in a different way and that wants to be in a non-traditional way and want to be freed up to do this sort of stuff. What is more of a challenge is finding lawyers whereby you can actually build a business with them, whereby they have a client base, or there is enough money flowing through a business to be able to have a sustainable business for them, and for you to run the back office for it. Like, you know, I can only talk from my own personal experiences, but in law firms, and bear in mind and you know this, Geraldine, I spent 10 to 15 years of my career, just working on thorough bases across countries. So all my clients around the world were law firms, I built up a sort of geeky interest of law and how law firms collaborate with each other, and then, and that sort of stuff. So I got to know law firms in London, in New York and Beijing and Hong Kong, and that sort of stuff, and got really interested in how they operate and how they work with their clients, but also how they work with their collaborative partners, be they an accountancy firm or a foreign law firm or whatever it might be. But in my experience, most client relationships, even within a law firm that has hundreds of partners, most client relationships, and the US firms remunerate on this basis particularly, most relationships are held with a very small number. And actually, you get lots of very, very able technical lawyers. 

 

Geraldine  8:20  
Yeah. 

 

Nigel  8:21  
But it's a much smaller percentage of lawyers that actually bring in and maintain the client relationships. And it's the same in what I would call the new world we have in this country in the UK, we have thousands of lawyers that want to work in more of a freelance way, but a lot of them would need and want to be, and they're very honest and open about it, they need to be fed the opportunities to do the work.

 

Geraldine  8:47  
Yeah, this is actually, this was a question that I had when you were describing this model. So Ben, would be unusual in the sense that he had a following to bring to the model. Whereas most of the lawyers, you'd be looking at have the technical skills, but don't. So how would, how does nexa address that issue?

 

Nigel  9:14  
And this is a key challenge from a building a business perspective, personally for nexa, but also for the market as a whole. And I've seen and by the way, the pandemic has accelerated everything on this front, I think, and we can talk about that a little bit. But I've seen, I mean there was a lot of movement, there's been a lot of movement in this area for me over the last 20 years. But the last 5 years, the acceleration has been huge, and is exponentially. Just the different opportunities there are in the legal industry, or to service clients differently, but particularly for lawyers to practise differently. So, at nexa, and I, I've spent probably far too much time looking at the whole landscape of who's playing in this market and who's buying services from this market, because you know, I have a background in the international space and I'm really interested in the top 30 firms around the world as I am now really interested in the much smaller players in the UK, but there are an awful lot and Australia has an awful lot as well, the UK does, and lots of other territories, the Middle East is growing and burgeoning as a new market for legal services as well, there's an awful lot of different providers doing different things. So inevitably, it's easier to just give examples. So there's a US business called Axiom, which... 

 

Geraldine  10:51  
Familiar with them.

 

Nigel  10:53  
Provides opportunities, for freelance lawyers, they ask their freelance lawyers to become exclusive to them, they actually will go to the major corporates, and will sell legal services to the major corporates on a sort of on demand flexible basis, and then they will feed their freelance lawyers the opportunity, and they will share the fees and that sort of stuff. So Axiom feeds its freelancers to work. Axiom is a big business now.

 

Geraldine  11:22  
And so successful that some law firms are actually recreating an Axiom in house. 

 

Nigel  11:28  
Exactly. 

 

Geraldine  11:29  
Minter Ellison has a practice like that.

 

Nigel  11:31  
Yeah, Flex, so Minters has Flex. And I think now, and I talk to them regularly over here, that almost all of the top 30 law firms in the England and Wales market are also doing that as well. 

 

Geraldine  11:44  
Yeah. 

 

Nigel  11:45  
And so this is what I would call all non-traditional alternative career space lawyers. So you have, and we all think we're a bit different from each other, but inevitably, we're all quite similar. As much as we try and differentiate ourselves, we're all quite similar. So you have, say you have a Magic Circle in the UK law firm on one end of the spectrum, a Slaughter & May classic, traditional, brilliant law firm. And then on the other end of the spectrum, we've got Axiom, which is completely different. Now, on that there are literally 60 - 70- 80 different business models and different businesses now, some of which have quite big scale, and some of which are listed, and some have private equity and they are all growing fast, of different ways of delivering those legal services. So the top, as I said, the top 30 firms in this market would have their own models that are wholly owned by the partnerships. But there are an awful lot that are doing different things. Now they may be more resourcing plays, where they just sort of provide the lawyers to do the work like an Axiom, or they may be a platform for lawyers that have their own books of business. Now, I will explain what I think we're trying to do with nexa, and we are a startup so we are a fast growth business. But we are a small player, but in our sector of the platforms for lawyers with their own books of business. In the UK, we have an outfit called Keystone law, which was the first mover in this space, which is on the junior market, on the A market, but has turnover of 70, 80 million pounds a year. So it's a decent sized business. And they're very much geared up for if you've got your own book of business, bring your clients and we'll run that back office for you. And nexa as we build, that's the core of what we do. We have self-employed lawyers who have their own book of business, but I'm not trying to be exclusive to what I think of as the 80 to 90% of lawyers that want to work in a different way that don't have their own client base.

 

Geraldine  14:02  
Yes.

 

Nigel  14:03  
I want to look after them as well and provide a career path for them as well. So we have internally they can work for our rainmakers for want on a better term. And we have a product called Connex, which we sell internally, so that the rainmakers like Ben for example, can buy his own internal legal services and get support. And we also sell that product now to law firms as well. We're working with a lot of mid market law firms where they buy our flexible offerings so they don't have to build their own.

 

Geraldine  14:37  
In particular specialisations, or niche areas of practice?

 

Nigel  14:44  
We've got a huge breadth of areas of practice at the moment just because of the individuals that want to work in a different way. They could be a catastrophic injury lawyer to a big ticket litigator.

 

Geraldine  14:56  
So when you're selling Connex to law firms, are you selling the whole breadth of practices within your network or within nexa? Or are you just selling parts of it the particular practice areas?

Nigel  15:10  
We're exploring, we will sell whatever, whatever, you know, we want to work as a collaborator with law firms. 

 

Geraldine  15:18  
Okay. 

 

Nigel  15:19  
The data is difficult to gather, but law firms still dominate 99%, if you put it in numeric terms, the UK market for legal services, for example, is something like 50 billion pounds. It would only be about 1% of it that's not done by the traditional partnership law firms at the moment. 

 

Geraldine  15:42  
Really?

 

Nigel  15:44  
There's obviously in house, 

 

Geraldine  15:45  
Yes.

 

Nigel  15:45  
So we're only scratching the surface. But the thing that I think is, and you can tell, I'm passionate, and I love this part of the sector, the fact is that our businesses are all growing exponentially. And I think as other regulators around the world, perhaps start to open up, that then these models will start to to get more and more traction in more and more key legal markets around the world.

 

Geraldine  16:17  
So I have so many questions. The first... 

 

Nigel  16:20  
Sorry, there was a lot in that. 

 

Geraldine  16:21  
Yeah, no, it's fantastic. Thanks, Nigel. And that's so informative. And you know, you've said before, I was reading an article that's on your website, that you did recently, you said that you've become really passionate about different business models and become a bit of a geek about it. And I can see why because it's actually a very fascinating area, the whole traditional law firm and how it's morphing into, how it's morphing and transforming. So the questions I have, well, the first question I have is, if I were to come to nexa, as a lawyer wishing to take advantage of your looking after back office for me, do I have an obligation to refer work to the Connex network?

 

Nigel  17:13  
No. So what we're, and look time will tell how many of our businesses will be really successful and really gain traction in the market. I flip flop every day in terms of my emotional well being about how I feel about it, but I'm genuinely really excited about where this can go around the world. Because it gives both the buyers and the sellers, the consumers and the suppliers, choice and options. We're not trying to, we're not, it's, you know, I compare it sometimes to health care, not trying to change the world, you know, we're still ultimately delivering legal services. But we're just delivering them in a different way so that people have choices as to how they consume, and buy their legal services. And what excites me now and we're all I've learned so much about in the last few years is I only knew about the kind of the international markets that you and I operated in. But I see it now from the High Street to Wall Street, that actually all different parts of the market can benefit from some change, some modernisation, just so that there is choice in the way that lawyers do their work. And there is choice in the way that buyers have legal services, whether they're an individual wanting to sell a house, or they're a large corporate needing to restructure a debt, loan portfolio of billions of pounds, there is genuine choice as to who you use, and that is creating competition, which is healthy for the end user. What drives me about this is to do, is to take all the great things about traditional law firms, but what drives me is freedom and choice and flexibility. So that if a lawyer, you know, we look after, effectively 130 self-employed businesses, you know, and operate on our platform and our job is to support them. That's my role as CEO of nexa is to look after our businesses but without them other than Connex we don't have an income stream. But we don't want to be prescriptive in telling them what to do. Now, I grew up in a legal world in private practice in solicitors' firms, where it was a bit more command and control. And I very much want nexa to be at the forefront of trust. You do right by us, lawyer, we will do right by you and you can go and service your clients and how you wish as clients will be happier. And without telling them how to do it.

 

Geraldine  20:05  
This was actually one of my questions. So pricing is up to the lawyer, how they want to price, whether it's on a billable hour model or value pricing or whatever is up to them. And then you look after their back office. So you get a fee for looking after the back office. What about leveraging? And when I say leveraging I mean, what about teams of lawyers? Are they all sole practitioners or do they have, these businesses, are they groups of lawyers as well amongst them?

 

Nigel  20:43  
Yeah, that's a very good question. And it's something I look at all the time because we as a business are trying to talk to our audience, which I talk about being the sort of mid market business market. 

 

Geraldine  20:59  
Yeah. 

 

Nigel  21:01  
Whereby we can service the types of clients, individuals as well, but but perhaps more, the business clients, the ones that my old friend Ben was servicing in that, in London, you'd call it the small ticket space, but across the UK, and in Australia, I'd call it the mid market. And it's amazing. And the Americans were very good at this. It's amazing how you can deliver really high quality legal services without needing needing rafts and rafts of teams to do it. I remember when the private equity funds, the US funds come over to London and their lawyers would operate in really small teams, I was working for an English law firm, and we would throw bodies at it, which was quite amusing since all the bodies were charging on an hourly rate basis, and you go, well hang on, where's the efficiencies in that. But look, it's non prescriptive, but we help and we try and guide and we support. So some clients, and inevitably, some work requires more resources than other bits of work. And so we have teams within teams. And that is, it is a challenge to be able to recreate all the best things about the collegiality of good law firms, the people who work together in a common goal and pull together, especially when a lot of our people are working remotely from each other. But yes, a lot of the work will require teams, and particularly our bigger ticket work requires teams of people with different skill sets. But some of the work can just be done by an individual. So we have, even with our small team of only 130 lawyers, we have a huge range of of how they want to work and how their clients want them to work. And I learn something every day, and I just try and listen. And we ask when we're taking on new lawyers, and we're growing at sort of 5 to 10 lawyers a month, I ask , you know, our first question is, how do you want to work? How do you plan to work? And then we go, we sort of, that's the supportive collaborative nature, we go, okay, we can support you with that. And we make introductions internally, to different teams of people that we say, okay, say oh so you need to work with an employment team. Okay. These the employment lawyers we suggest you build a relationship with To be honest, Geraldine, it's not that different to partners working together in a large scale partnership.

 

Geraldine  23:41  
Yes, I could see that. And even in a large scale partnership, you do have to spend time figuring out how the different teams work together. It's seamless in the sense that you're under the same umbrella, but it would be the same. nexa, I mean, you would all share systems. So you'd be all on the same email system. Do you share precedents? I mean, this is getting very geeky and nerdy, but I think there will be people listening to this that will actually have these questions as well. Do you share documents? Do you share IP?

Nigel  24:18  
Yeah, well, that's a really interesting point. And I'm grateful I can only do what I do now, because of businesses like Thomson Reuters and others that effectively made IP freely available. Because when I started in the 90s, that was why you had to pay UK city law firms top dollar because they had all the IP captured in house.

 

Geraldine  24:46  
Yeah, that's an excellent point.

 

Nigel  24:48  
And now, a lot of the stuff that you could Google and find a legal document within 60 seconds that you might want to use for your small business but even the really complex sophisticated documentation actually is much more readily available. And that's where over the last 25 years since I've been practising has been a huge shift that and to be honest, the market, I grew up, as you know, as a finance lawyer, and the market developed in global finance, we had the Loan Market Association whereby actually, the buyers and sellers of legal services said this is silly, let's share IP to help industry. And it, just within finance, it made a massive difference. And so, yeah, we wouldn't be able to do obviously, I talk about collaboration a lot. But it's the same within a traditional partnership as it is, if you're operating from a nexa platform. It's relationships with the client and internally, and it's good communications and it's sharing. In our world, we're all aligned, and we should all be pulling in the same direction. And we are, and people operate, and a successful operating off platforms like ours, generally, if they're good, they understand that collaboration, sharing, you know, healthy respect and relationships internally as well as with their clients, is of utmost importance. 

 

Geraldine  26:32  
Yeah, and if you get the balance, right, in terms of rewarding people, then you should be able to, firstly discourage behaviours that don't promote collaboration and discourage people from joining your platform who don't get it.

 

Nigel  26:54  
Myself and the founder, one of the founders of nexa Elliot Hibbert, who's our COO, between us, we try and speak to everybody. The vetting, the recruitment process is, we take it really, really seriously. And we insure with one of the global big insurers called Allianz, which is a German insurer, and it's one of the largest players in the professional indemnity market. And they want to see every single CV, and they want us to explain to them, every single lawyer we bring on, so that we take that bit really seriously so that culturally, we're getting the right people. So that's so important for us, the quality control, as you'd expect, is hugely important for us. 

 

Geraldine  27:39  
So going to that cultural piece, Nigel, thinking about the benefit for lawyers, because I can see the benefit for clients is that what you're saying about choice, I think is absolutely true. And I like how you've reminded me that it's not just about this sort of Wall Street or Main Street way of thinking, you know, you actually have to think about customers of law more broadly. But when it comes to lawyers, I can see the benefit for people with established practices but what about the mentoring aspect? The lawyers who are coming through, how do they gain from your model?

 

Nigel  28:22  
I believe they gain from our model in nexa, but for me, when I set out to try and build something like this, and I spent a year chatting to other people, I would be the first to admit I'm not the first mover on this. A lot of people, Keystone and the Axioms and the Varios, Pinsent Masons was one of the first movers as a traditional law firm to play in this space, Lawyers on Demand is another brand, LOD  as they're now called, l-o-d, is another brand you'd know, 

 

Geraldine  28:51  
Yeah.

 

Nigel  28:52  
I talked to all of those people when I was back in the UK before even thinking about how to do this. Because without being blunt, when I was at Minters, I spent two years of coaching to pluck up the courage to leave what was a very comfortable financially equity partner position of a law firm, but I knew, my drivers were wanting to help the industry and help individuals and businesses and I thought we could do better as an industry as a whole. I love Minters and still do and I'm in touch with a lot of people from there, but my drivers were partly frustration and partly as an industry globally and then individually, we could do better. We could do better. So one of the things is the career path. 

 

Geraldine  29:46  
Yeah. 

 

Nigel  29:47  
And we're hosting on the 28th of April here in London with some great women speakers and leaders in law, because one of the things for me was lack of diversity. And that's a huge thing for me. And the other thing is, going back to choice, is to give career choices for lawyers. So when I started as a trainee in 1997, you made a choice. And it's not dissimilar in Australia, you made a choice between barrister and solicitor very early on sort of pre law school. And then the in house career was starting to develop in the late 90s, and was a genuine thing. And that was fantastic. But it was still very linear. You're in as a solicitor, you were in private practice. And it was, as a lawyer, you were trainee, associate and then partner and that was it, or there was an in-house career choice. And now, and we have a partnership with one of the big London universities Queen Mary's University in London, we have a partnership with their postgraduate team. They have 600 postgraduate lawyers in London, who come from all over the world doing Masters and other postgraduate degrees, and they want different things from their legal career. And I'm passionate about trying to deliver options for lawyers. And it started with me losing too many female friends from the legal industry. The legal industry has lost too many good people because of its inflexibility and lack of career options. So I work at nexa I work very closely with a super guy, if he gets this far in the podcast, I can embarrass him, called Dan Jenkins, who's a 33 year old, brilliant litigator, and he is in my ear all the time saying this has got to work for the younger lawyers as well as your 58 year old former partners of law firms. And that's what we're working really hard to do is to give them options. And I know that lots of the other businesses are working really hard on this as well. For example, we've just taken on a super guy called Gideon Moore, who was the outgoing Managing Partner of Linklaters, he's just started on the 1st of April, actually, he started as the General Counsel of the NatWest group of banks, which is a huge organisation. And Gideon has been fantastic because I get his perspective on what was he doing when he was managing Linklaters. Because on his watch, they built their model called ReLink, which is their sort of flexible model. So just chatting to him about the drivers of why they did that. And to be honest, Geraldine, law firms, wherever you are in the marketplace, they're a very easy target for criticism. But a lot of them are trying very hard to modernise. It's just their structures don't necessarily help them make fast decisions. And you and I know that from from our former life, but I don't think we should underestimate how important the career path is for these employers. They try. They're trying to give more options, and more career options for lawyers. And that's certainly what we're trying to do at nexa. And because, for me, it needs to work. And we have consultant lawyers, we have an age range from 25 to 77 on our platform

 

Geraldine  33:26  
That's diversity. 

 

Nigel  33:29  
It's extraordinary. And we are, but we're trying to cater because at the other end, there's a lot of lawyers that don't want to stop working at 60 years old, Geraldine right?

 

Geraldine  33:38  
Excellent point.

 

Nigel  33:39  
Still earn an income and that sort of stuff. So we're trying to provide a place for them. Because you probably know better than me a lot of partnerships agreements will say you're done at 58, 60, 62 see you later but particularly the next generation of lawyers, we need to cater for them as an industry and they want different things.

 

Geraldine  34:02  
Yeah, they don't have that very long term view that we may have had even or generations before us starting out. They are influenced by the gig economy that different... they may have three or four or five careers within them within the span of their entire working life.

 

Nigel  34:22  
And they may have three or four careers at the same time. 

 

Geraldine  34:25  
Yes. 

 

Nigel  34:26  
Which is extraordinary, because that's what stuns me is that they want to do different things. As a platform, for us, we're trying to cater for all different shapes and sizes.

 

Geraldine  34:37  
You answered this question. I actually had this question, you answered it. The question was, you know, what are you trying to do? Are you trying to reinvent or are you trying to lead? Are you just trying to be another alternative? And I got the sense from what you were saying that you are offering another model within the full spectrum of different models. What's the next step for you though now you have Gideon Moore, which I agree, congratulations on an excellent appointment, what's the next step for nexa?

 

Nigel  35:13  
We need to keep, we want to keep driving, keep growing the business so that we build our brand and so that the market becomes aware, we've got to, you know, we've got to walk the walk. It's all very well, me just saying we want to be this culturally, be this, that and the other and encourage freedom and flexibility and trust and that sort of stuff, as we grow, we need to be able to deliver on that. And we want to build a sustainable business that gives the 25 year old lawyer or the 65 year old lawyer where they could look at it and go, actually, that might be an option for me, and find our place in the market whereby we're a genuine alternative. Because even in you know, I talked about the fact that the sort of new law market has been going for 20 years, but it's really accelerating year on year and a catalyst for change. And the you know, COVID pandemic has, as for a start, it forced lawyers to work with technology. That was, you don't need me to tell you that a lot of the over 45s including myself were pretty clueless on how to set up a Teams call or a Zoom call, even though the technology was all there. But also a lot of that was lack of trust, if you're not down the corridor, I'm not going to trust you. And that's a big thing for lawyers is to, to let go of, particularly for the employers. But is it really even within this new law market, I think and I don't want to criticise other players. But I think as the businesses, the new businesses have scaled up, they are starting to fall into some traps of almost like the command and control prescriptive traps. And I'm determined, which is why we have Connex because we want to be a collaborator in the market. And I go on and on about it, I bore my team to tears with the we're an alternative career path, we're not for everybody. And we're not trying to plunk ourselves on the map as a Top 100 law firm in the UK, we are just an alternative career space. And we want to work with those law firms to help them be the best version of themselves, that they can be or a better version for a lot of them that they can be. So we're just trying to build a business. And as we grow, we have to because we're a support service for our lawyers, we have to make sure that our operational infrastructure is good enough so that we can keep up with our lawyers and, and deliver the back office services that they want. So where next for nexa? For me, it's a critical 12 to 24 month period. It's all very well when we're a really small business. And we only look after 130 lawyers and we've got a small turnover of money coming through and all that sort of stuff and client base. Can we keep the culture in the sense of purpose as a business and with our lawyers that we want to do as we grow? And that's just that's being disciplined and determined to stick to our knitting, as the Aussies would say. You know, but also, as I said that I want to give lawyers freedom. so as part of the recruitment, I don't want to ram it down their throat. We've just started a new induction programme over sort of six weeks at nexa , so from day one, when they join, you know, so they get to talk to me a number of other players that are employed by nexa, about the culture, the community, how we collaborate, how they can make more money, all the different bits of it, and we want to put an extra stamp so that people go, oh they are a bit different, you know, that I think that might work for me, whether that's you know, as I said is a 25 year old or 65 year old and hopefully from all different backgrounds so that we are building a really diverse community of individuals that all want to work in a different way. And that's, it's you could see me I get excited about that because it's so new for law. And we're so behind so many other industries in this.

 

Geraldine  39:46  
Well that ultimately is a real issue because consumers of legal services consume other types of services and when they do the comparison it really doesn't make sense to them. But you're absolutely right, I can see your passion Nigel, and I think that that's going to be key in this period that's coming up that you're talking about where the challenges are, and that you've got your eye on ensuring that you maintain that culture, as well as that choice for lawyers and for the consumer of legal services. It's been fascinating, I want to say thank you for sharing this with me. Thank you for entertaining my questions. Thank you for the opportunity to catch up with you again. It's been fantastic. And I want to wish you and nexa every success, I'll be watching out and following you very closely.

Nigel  40:46  
Thank you so much, Geraldine. It was lovely to chat. And you know, I could speak about this for hours and hours and hours. So we need to meet in person very soon.

 

Geraldine  40:54  
Absolutely.

 

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