Penny Heighway talks to Anna Burnside and Fiona Wheeler about what sets them apart, opening the new Marlow office and their plans for further expansion.
Featured above: Trusts Director Martin Pollock and Partners Nadine Jayes, Fiona Wheeler and Anna Burnside.
Anna, The Burnside Partnership (TBP) was formed by two Partners less than four years ago. How has the business developed since that time?
When the firm was established, it comprised of Fiona, our PA and me. Now, we're 18 people strong and continuing to grow. We've recently doubled our office space in Combe (within the Blenheim Estate on the outskirts of Oxford), and we have just opened an office in Marlow. Our London work is growing too. We have ambitious plans for our business and a clear strategy for how to get there. We consider ourselves business-people as well as lawyers and we have a strong management team. We are flexible and agile and can make decisions quickly—we're not held back by bureaucracy nor by traditions as to how a law firm should be run and how staff progress within the law firm structure.
Fiona, was it a tough decision to move away from established law firms where you had done so well?
Not at all. Setting up our own firm was exciting and enabled us to start with a clean slate as to how we wanted to work and how and what we wanted to offer our clients and staff. We were grateful that we also had so many loyal clients and referrers who chose to follow us.
Anna, what makes your approach to private client law unique and sets you apart from other firms?
We advise exclusively on private client law and our ethos is to provide outstanding technical advice within a much more client-focused and personal, non-corporate, environment. This approach is often lacking in more commercially orientated law firms. We are dedicated to our clients. We pride ourselves on establishing a real understanding of our clients' needs and concerns and strive to achieve the most satisfactory outcomes.
The second aspect is our empathy and accessibility. We understand that making decisions about estate planning can be daunting and even distressing for some people. All our employees understand that a professional, friendly and empathetic experience is a top priority for clients and they work hard to achieve this. We go out of our way to make clients feel at ease whether in person, by email or by phone. One of our team members is even learning sign language. Furthermore, we welcome dogs into our office in Oxfordshire as this puts some clients in a more relaxed frame of mind.
Our clients tell us that they appreciate the accessibility of our offices, and the willingness of our lawyers to meet them in locations where they feel most comfortable. We regularly help vulnerable adults and their families including those in prison. We are proud to make private client law advice accessible to as many people as possible.
Fiona, what can you offer a private client lawyer that's different from your obvious top-quality competition in the region?
We can offer an entrepreneurial environment and an exciting opportunity for our lawyers—supporting their personal and professional development, allowing them to develop their own areas of expertise and encouraging them to contribute to the growth of our business more broadly.
We take pride in seeing our lawyers progress in their careers and in the last year we have hired an in-house legal trainer. In addition to help training our staff, she assesses Trainee Legal Executives' work for the CILEX Law School.
We are also strongly supportive of your people achieving their potential. We have our own apprenticeship programme and in 2017 our Legal Apprentice won Oxfordshire Apprentice of the Year. She is now a Trainee Legal Executive in our firm. This year TBP is a finalist in the Apprenticeship Employer Award in the Oxfordshire Apprenticeships Awards.
Staff and clients alike love the rural setting of our Combe office, which is within easy reach of the city of Oxford and main routes. Our staff benefit from an easier commute than is the case into the centre of Oxford and we have lots of parking. Our office in Marlow is in an equally charming location. Marlow has a beautiful Thames side setting and is accessible to the M40 and M4. It also has some amazing restaurants!
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For more information and a confidential chat about The Burnside Partnership and any current opportunities for legal roles in the South East please contact Penny Heighway.
Date: April 2019