Law firm launches ’empowered work’ drive as it reveals new group brand

Sarah Walker-Smith. Photo courtesy of Ursula Kelly
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Law firm Shakespeare Martineau has revealed the name of its new legal and professional services group holding LLP.

Ampa follows on from the firm’s announcement to move to a “house of brands” strategy.

Shakespeare Martineau says that Ampa is a “talent and team-facing brand”, with its existing companies – Shakespeare Martineau, Lime Solicitors, Marrons Planning and Corclaim – maintaining their client-facing role and management structure. The firm says the purpose of Ampa is to provide the infrastructure and backing that enables the growth of each brand within the group, with bigger buying power and access to expertise, as well as shared values and culture, including the adoption of the new “empowered work principles”.

The immediate priority for Ampa is to grow the current brands as well as welcoming new brands under the group holding LLP, across both legal and complementary professional services.

Sarah Walker-Smith, group CEO of Ampa, said: “We are looking for lateral hires, teams, and existing brands and firms to join our current brands in Ampa to expand our expertise and specialisms and grow the teams in our existing locations as well as other regions nationally. Our recent acquisition of a specialist team that joined Lime Solicitors in London is a great example of how this is working already.

“Secondly, we’re looking for highly established brands in geographies we don’t currently operate in across the UK, or that offer complementary professional services, such as architecture, or cyber security, to join our group as a stand-alone brand and take advantage of our great group culture and buying power, which will help rocket-fuel growth.”

In addition to the new group name, Ampa has also announced “empowered work principles”, a group-wide thank you bonus and an all people “wellbeing bank holiday” on Monday 26 July.

In its latest firm-wide survey, 88% of Ampa’s people said they want more flexibility for both where and when they worked, a 7% increase on the previous year. The new “empowered work principles” will act as a guide for enabling people to manage their own time and working patterns, while ensuring the needs of their clients, colleagues and team are met.

“Our culture lives in our behaviours; we focus on amazing outputs, rather than where or when they’re delivered, so we empower our people to own their diary,” explained Ben Buckton, chief marketing and people officer at Ampa.

“We see lots of firms offering ‘flexible’ working arrangements, yet they still bind their people to fixed rules and commitments – such as only allowing home working 40% of the time or offering early starts as long as these become your new fixed working hours – but this doesn’t go far enough for us, as it doesn’t match the reality of life or the new business world.

“We don’t create policies for the sake of it and it’s not our culture to instigate rules – our people told us they want flexibility, but they also need guidance to avoid uncertainty or inconsistencies, so we created the ‘empowered work principles’.”

“We want our people to have a true work-life balance, where they have the confidence and accountability for their own time, career, and where they work – while of course keeping client, colleague, and team needs at their heart. We also know that empowering people is the best motivation, and our positive work culture is already attracting top talent from across the UK.”

In addition to the launch of “empowered work”, all employees have been given a thank-you payment of £500.

Salary review and bonuses were put on hold last year due uncertainty during the pandemic but have both been reinstated this year. The group says it hasn’t made firm-wide salary cuts at any point during the pandemic.

Buckton added: “We’re really pleased to be able to show our appreciation for peoples hard-work and resilience throughout this last year, not just through monetary value, but also in time and opportunity to fully switch off as we close the firm on July 26th. We’ll be very open with our clients about why we are giving our people an extra-bank holiday and ensure they have the support and access they need.”