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Our story

Neil was called to the Bar as a Barrister in March 1999. Marsha was entered onto the Solicitors Roll in 2008. Even before we met, we were both becoming frustrated at various aspects of our profession. It was stuffy, stuck in its ways and did not recognise the concept of customer service. When we met, we quickly realised that we shared the same concerns. This was the start of our story.

Questioning the status quo

The first problem was this: it was not easy for a layperson to access high-quality expertise. The smaller so-called ‘provincial’ law firms rarely had the expertise in-house to enable them to give really good advice through to conclusion. As a result, the client was disadvantaged. Things got missed. Or even if they did not, the provincial solicitor would charge significant fees simply to gather information before ‘instructing’ a barrister, sitting remotely in some distant ivory tower. Two? Yes. Price of one? Sadly not. These small provincial firms often did not deliver access to justice at sensible rates.

The second problem was the rates charged by the larger firms. The larger firms had subject-matter experts, but sadly this was a licence to print money. We would see glorified administrators and legal trainees charged out at rates 10 or 20 times their actual cost and junior lawyer fees were absurd. Moreover, they still instructed barristers at certain key stages, so the client suffered the same double-whammy but at even more extortionate rates. The biggest firms were beyond the budget of all but the wealthiest clients, and those clients were often being ripped-off.

The lack of coordination caused by the separation of the professions was another huge frustration. Often the barrister would not be involved the case from the outset. Instead they would be parachuted-in at trial to present a case that someone else had conceived and prepared. Again, the client was disadvantaged.

Starting to break the mould

Early on in his career, Neil began to practice in a way which really did fly in the face of the traditional methods of the Bar. He encouraged direct contact between him and his lay clients; he cultivated relationships; he sought to understand not just their immediate problems but also their businesses; and he encouraged his clients to involve him when problems were embryonic. This approach was frowned upon by his peers. But from the clients’ point of view, working in this way paid dividends: lower fees, fewer problems, quicker resolution, and higher success rates were just a few of the benefits.

For her part, Marsha ensured that she became a true specialist. As a result, her cases were properly prepared from the outset. She also built a solid network of leading barristers with whom she could discuss and strategise over cases, without formal engagement – the quid pro quo was that she instructed them when they were really needed. Her clients got the best of both worlds at the lowest possible cost to them.

In 2004 it became possible for the public to directly instruct a barrister. Neil was one of the first barristers to fully embrace this new and far more modern way of working. However, whilst this worked for some cases, for others – especially those which were factually complex and required significant information-gathering and client liaison – the absence of the solicitor was palpable.

In 2009, a further change in the law allowed barristers, solicitors and other suitable persons to form businesses together for the same time.

In the event, work took Neil in a different direction. He was increasingly engaged by private equity funds and corporate clients to use his skills to execute rapid turnaround in distressed businesses. Meanwhile, Marsha moved law firms and also became heavily involved in providing high quality HR advice alongside her core legal services. This exposure to different but related fields of endeavour again highlighted the pitfalls, particularly for small businesses, in accessing high-quality business and HR services.

Paladin is born

In the summer of 2018, the timing was right. Marsha was ready for a change and Neil wanted to build a team to scale up the expertise that he was already offering, but without losing the quality. Just one conversation cemented our vision – to establish a revolutionary legal and HR firm which would reject all that was wrong with the professions, and embrace all that was right with them. We also wanted to create a firm that would embrace technology and flexible working, not only for us but for everyone who works with us.

And thus, Paladin was born. A one-stop shop for our clients’ needs, with a whole-team ethos. Outstanding expertise, but at fees that are affordable. All underpinned by truly world-class customer service.Every day, we practice according to this ethos. It’s the only way we know.