Interview with Karen Holden, Founder and Managing Director of A City Law Firm

A City Law Firm (ACLF) was set up 12 years ago as a direct result of becoming disillusioned with how the legal industry approached client management and staff. 

I wanted to set up a business where the staff enjoyed coming into work and an environment that clients would welcome. I wanted to embrace the clients from start to finish, across all of their matters, and have a long-standing relationship with them. 

I did this by offering them approachable and friendly lawyers in a cost-efficient manner. Hence why many of my clients have been with me for the last 17 years. 

We as a firm also specifically wanted to embrace innovation, entrepreneurship, and pioneer for change. We intended to be different. We work in drone law, AI, blockchain, and other really exciting and innovative areas of law.

How do you think law firms need to innovate in the post COVID world?

ACLF has always been very agile and flexible in the marketplace. If there is a new area of law or change in law or a new way of doing things, we’ve adapted very quickly and this has always been our USP.

We have been able to work remotely effectively allowing the business to work as normal during this period. Many law firms have had to regroup and look at their technology, agility, and their ability to trust staff working on flexible hours and working from home. 

This will be a big game-changer for many established businesses that have never thought this way, and it may make or break them.

What would your advice be to a business looking to engage a solicitor? How would they approach you and why should they come to you?

We act for hundreds of start-ups, those scaling up or looking for an investment as well as large established businesses and individuals. Each client is as important to us as the last, and they will each get personal, priority service. 

Our aim is to build up a relationship with clients, understanding their needs and goals to help achieve them in the short and long term. It’s important that our clients trust us, feel like they can engage with their lawyers, and have an honest conversation. There is no legal jargon and more importantly, there is a synergy in understanding the goals of that client. 

People like us because we are approachable and work with clients rather than just give them options and letting them decide alone.

If the law is outdated will look to change it. If smaller clients want to work with more established businesses, we will offer commercial support and vice versa. 

It is our innovation, unique position in the marketplace, and working for an extensive range of different clients across a wide section of industries that enables us to give both legal and sensible commercial advice that the client can practically use.

Law is such a saturated market, how does your company set itself apart from competitors?

I think principally we do this in three ways: 

  1. We have never strived to be large practice with hundreds of lawyers. Instead, we are a very personal and specialist team that offer approachable and friendly work to clients. Clients call us up for a chat or a beer when something goes wrong, and we often become an extension of their business or personal network
  1. We have been very transparent and innovative with our fee structure. Where possible, we always offer fixed fees, monthly retainers in payment plans, and capped stage fees. This makes the client feel very much in control of their budget – there are no hidden surprises and the transparency enables us to maintain the relationship that is so key to us
  2. Our innovation makes us unique. If the law is outdated we can quickly plan for the future, we work with exciting technology companies and engage with universities. This makes us entrepreneurs and innovators which excites the client base working with us. As a company, we pride ourselves on the fact that we do not sit on the fence or shy away from complicated solutions.

What can we expect to see from a city law firm in the future?

Our business and brand will continue to make headway as we fight for equality and pioneer for innovative law. We hope to become a leading brand for government and large established businesses when integrating new technology. We continue to change the law in regard to LGBT and surrogacy matters where the law is outdated. We will continue to be agile and proactive going where our clients need us, embracing change, and enjoying the journey disrupting the market.