When I met Scarborough Business Hero, Teresa Bennion, partner at Pinkney Grunwells Solicitors, she reminded me that the firm has offices not just in Scarborough but also in Whitby, Driffield, Bridlington and Hunmanby. They practice in most area of the law working with private clients, in property, family, employment, contract disputes, and landlord/tenants law.
Teresa has been working with Pinkney Grunwells for 16 years and had been a partner for 4 years at the time of our conversation. When I asked her about the transition from being an employee to one of the owners, she admitted that you cannot prepare yourself for the responsibility and the huge weight that becoming a business owner brings. The flipside, though, is the reward.
She told me that when she was training to be a solicitor, her goal was to progress to be a partner in a legal practice. But you don’t get the training in running a business she said. She felt that training in management needs to be brought in earlier. So while she always strived to become a partner in the firm, she was not aware of what it would entail in reality.
The firm invests in career progression for its staff and in training to retain good staff. It’s important to develop very good lawyers and good client service in order to receive good feedback. Client care is essential for maintaining the size of the firm because satisfied clients will happily bring the firm good referrals thus ensuring steady growth. So their training is very much about client service. They develop apprentices who are trained by existing staff. The three business owners regularly attend management courses and bring their training and knowledge back to implement and share in the firm.
Teresa is clearly passionate about the company which is now 80 years old. She shares ownership of the business with partners Hayley Garnett and Daniel Boynton. They took over the business when Richard Grunwell retired.
Together they share a strong work ethic and are rewarded with passion and commitment from their people which in turn means that they’re able to maintain a good local reputation because of that.
Our location is a great place to work, Teresa said. The local people are friendly and lovely and local businesses are very receptive and wanting to help. Local businesses all seem to be aware of the problems of competing against the “city big boys”. Some businesses though might feel that they need to go to a bigger firm for legal advice rather than use a local firm. They might see a bigger firm as having better qualified solicitors but that is absolutely not true.
I asked Teresa about the challenges of leading and managing five separate branches of the business. Business growth and maintaining clear communications with a growing team is a challenge. Teresa personally juggles the role of Human Resources with her own legal practice which can be difficult. Time constraints and trying to complete all the goals you set yourself can make HR the hardest role sometimes. But they are always working to improve by connecting one on one with staff and getting their feedback and input in order to leverage individual skills. They’re working on unifying their offices more by putting in systems to ensure maximum efficiency and profitability of the firm rather than individual departments.
We talked a bit about plans for further expansion. They only fairly recently opened their office in Driffield and the immediate plan is to get that fully functioning and also to expand their practice in Whitby.
As with all businesses, there is that point that seems like a Catch 22 scenario where you have to grow sufficiently to be able to justify the investment in an HR officer to have a dedicated person who can meet the needs of staff to maximise skills and retention. You need the role to be able to grow – but also need to have the budget to pay for the additional specialist role.
To find out more about Pinkney Grunwells Solicitors go to https://pinkneygrunwells.co.uk/
To find out more about our Scarborough Business Heroes project go to https://actioncoach.co.uk/coaches/ros-jones/about/scarborough-business-heroes/