Interview: Jewell Hancock Employment Lawyers
After years of working at a law firm together, Trent and Andrew saw an opportunity to create a pragmatic, cost-effective and personalised service. Sound familiar? 😉 It’s no surprise that our teams clicked, and Jewell Hancock came onboard as clients. We had a chat with them about their experiences so far as new business owners and some important points around employment law that more of us need to be aware of.
What does Jewell Hancock do?
We’re a full service employment law firm exclusively for employees. We provide advice and representation to the full spectrum of workers, from apprentices to CEOs.
Unlike a lot of other firms in the area, we don’t act for employers, we don’t have any affiliations with any unions and we practice only in employment law. This means we can provide truly independent and expert advice to workers.
We also deal with each case personally from start to finish. This means we can develop quite a close relationship with our clients, who benefit from direct contact with a senior lawyer, rather than being kicked down the chain to a junior or paralegal.
We also work primarily on a fixed fee basis to ensure that clients are clear about legal costs from the outset. Additionally, we offer a ‘no-win no-fee’ service to certain eligible clients, helping to mitigate the financial strain of the legal process.
Finding the right business partner can be tricky. Why did you decide to have a crack together?
We worked together for almost ten years at a boutique employment law firm. Over time, we realised there was a way we could provide a more cost-efficient and personalised service to our clients, including through the use of new technologies.
As a result, we decided we wanted to build a new firm from scratch, embracing these new technologies and laying solid foundations that we could build and expand on over time. We also wanted to create a firm that could operate on a fully remote basis in order to give ourselves and our future employees the most flexible working environment possible.
What have been the most challenging and most rewarding facets of co-ownership so far?
The most challenging facet of co-ownership, particularly at the outset, was funding. Opening a new firm in the midst of COVID-19 was always going to be difficult, as banks started to impose stricter lending practices to start-ups. Ultimately we were able to self-fund the establishment of the firm by reducing overheads as much as possible and securing a handful of good clients quickly.
Marketing has been another challenging area for us. The legal services sector is a competitive market, particularly in the employment law space. We are trying to stand out against large competitors with much bigger advertising budgets which is always difficult. Fortunately we both had a good network of contacts within the profession, who have proved to be an invaluable source of referrals.
The most rewarding facet of co-ownership has definitely been the level of independence and control that it has given us. Rather than spending weeks or months trying to obtain a consensus and execute a plan, we are able to be truly agile and work quickly and closely with each other to make and implement decisions on a daily basis.
It’s also incredibly rewarding to be the master of your own fate. Every decision you make as a business owner is going to help determine your own success.
What’s your best piece of advice for someone considering starting a business?
Do it. In hindsight, our biggest regret was not doing it sooner!
Although it can be daunting and success is never guaranteed, taking the plunge is the best professional decision each of us have ever made. It gives you the freedom to run things your way, which is always going to be more rewarding than slogging it out 9 to 5 for someone else.
The other piece of advice is to do your research when it comes to suppliers. Research the options, obtain a few quotes, speak to as many people as possible and find partners that are really going to add value to your business.
We’ve already seen the benefits and risks of partnering with the right and the wrong suppliers.
For example, when looking for accountants, we spent a fair amount of time researching different practices, obtaining quotes and meeting with different representatives. After about two or three meetings, we connected with Future Advisory and after a one hour video meeting with Greg and Jason, we knew we had found the right accountants for us and have never looked back.
On the employment law front, what do you wish more employees and employers were aware of?
That the interests of the employee and the employer actually align a lot more than either of them might expect.
For example, when an employee makes a complaint in relation to their employment, they are actually giving their employer an opportunity to improve their business. When both parties accept this, a positive outcome for both can come from it.
Similarly, when a dispute arises, it is usually in both parties’ best interest to resolve it quickly and amicably. The worst thing that can happen in an employment related dispute is that one party digs its heels in on a principled basis. Usually when this happens both parties are going to lose. Instead, if they can both recognise and understand that resolving the dispute will save time and money, the fallout can be contained.
Why is having a great lawyer so important?
As an employee, you usually only have one opportunity to take action. Unfortunately, the wrong lawyer can often mean that your one chance is wasted – which is why it’s always important to find an experienced lawyer who specialises in the type of service you need. You want to ensure that the lawyer has a proven track record dealing with matters like yours and will always have your best interests in mind.
It might sound strange, but you also want to make sure that you actually get along with your lawyer! Certain types of disputes can take weeks, months or even years to resolve so having a great lawyer that you can speak with frankly is always going to be important.
Finally, how has Future Advisory helped you along the way?
Greg and Jason were great in getting us up and running as quickly as possible.
As lawyers, we thought we had a pretty good understanding of our corporate structuring and tax requirements but Greg and Jason were able to provide some really helpful advice at the outset about how to structure our new business to plan for long term success.
When we were ready to pull the trigger, Greg, Jason and the team at Future Advisory were able to set up our business structure to enable us to trade within a couple of days. This was invaluable for us as a new business.
Greg and Jason are also both really approachable, share our passion for technology and were able to give us some real world advice about our business, having gone through a similar process themselves in establishing Future Advisory.
Want to know more? You can head to the Jewell Hancock website to find out more about employment law, and get in touch with Trent and Andrew.