Having been established in the area for over 300 years, Buss Murton have become central to the legal community. Now, in 2016, the established firm has a new image for the future. Hannah Patterson sits down with Managing Partner Andrew Linton to find out what you can expect from their new brand…
Tell us briefly about Buss Murton’s origins…
Buss Murton Law traces its origins back to an Attorney at Law who opened a practice in Cranbrook in 1713, which was subsequently acquired by Charles Murton. He gave his name to the firm along with Thomas Buss, who set up practice in Tunbridge Wells in 1888.Buss Murton became a Limited Liability Partnership [LLP] on April 1, 2003. We acquired the Dartford office in 2003, and then expanded further in 2014 with the acquisition of Elaine McGloin Solicitors in East Grinstead, bringing the total number of offices to four and the current number of staff to 75.
As a Managing Partner, what does your role cover?
My role covers all facets of running the business, from strategic thinking and marketing through to building professional relationships. All of this is geared towards providing the best possible legal advice to our clients. At the same time, I ensure that the business is run in a professional and compliant manner and that our staff are rewarded properly and have opportunities for personal and professional development.
Was law always something you were interested in? How did you get to where you are today?
Having completed a history degree, and thinking that I wanted to become a teacher, I spent a year travelling and then decided against teaching. Law was something that I wanted to do. In 1993, I managed to secure five months’ work experience with Buss Murton, then went to law college, where I completed the Common Professional Examination in 1994, and then the Legal Practice Course in 1995. I then returned to Buss Murton as a trainee solicitor. I qualified in 1997 and undertook mainly matrimonial and civil litigation work before moving into employment at the turn of the millennium. I have continued to provide employment advice to employers and employees ever since. The development of my understanding of employer and employee relationships was something that I found both fascinating and challenging, and led me to want to develop my career in a management role as well as continue to provide legal advice. I became Head of Department in 2003 and Partner in November 2006. I have spent a lot of my management time developing the firm’s HR standards together with the Lexcel and Investors in People programmes.
You’ve recently undergone a rebranding. What prompted this?
I came here as a trainee in 1995, so it has been 21 years now. Within that time, the management structure has really changed, prompting a need to modernise and find an image that best reflected our staff and values. Although we are proud of our firm’s past, our focus is very much on the future and our branding needed to reflect this. The services we offer are not confined to a particular demographic. It is important that our image is inclusive and appealing to all kinds of clients. Essentially, the rebrand came about because of the need to look forwards and meet a wider and more digitally adept audience.
What other changes have you implemented for the future?
On the June 1, 2016, we changed our status to an Alternative Business Structure [ABS], allowing non-solicitors and professionals without a legal background to become partners in the business. We wanted the flexibility to offer staff the opportunity to progress through the firm and at the same time secure our succession for the future. To this end, we have just appointed a non-lawyer with a background in IT and finance as a Partner within the firm. In addition, the new structure provides the business with the flexibility to consider strategic opportunities as they arise which otherwise would not have been available to us.
Buss Murton have been established in Kent for a very long time. Tell us about your relationship
with the community here…
As a firm that has been around for over 300 years, we have deep-rooted connections to the communities in which we operate. This is one of our key strengths, and it is one of the things that we will keep on developing further. Our relationships with the local community allow us to better understand local issues, thereby enabling us to provide bespoke advice to our clients. We continue to have strong ties with schools, charities, cultural and sporting organisations.
You specialise in a wide range of legal matters, relating to both individuals and businesses. What’s the secret to providing high-quality services and advice across the spectrum?
Delivering results for our clients. We want each and every client to know that we will listen to their instruction, understand their requirements and offer tailored advice that specifically meets their needs. Our job is also to manage expectations and be transparent with regards to time and cost. It is also important to be honest about the likely outcome in each case. We feel that we need to be able to offer a full range of legal services to individuals. We are able to meet clients’ needs in most areas of the law – whether in relation to running their business or as individuals. We will always refer them to other trusted professionals when necessary. In a service business such as ours, our most valuable asset is our staff. We place huge importance on supporting, developing and rewarding our employees. Having the best lawyers and support staff is key to delivering the best service to our clients. As a business, it is also important for us to be flexible enough to provide advice in areas where opportunities present themselves through economic circumstances or changes in the law; we are an evolving practice.
This year has been a turbulent one for both national and international politics. In what ways, if at all, has this affected your practice?
We are aware that this year has created the potential for considerable change and a degree of uncertainty. It would be foolish not to continue to monitor developments and the potential impact on our own business, our clients and on the wider community. The work will continue to flow in, providing our standard of service remains high. If we remain approachable and speak a language that people understand, then there will be opportunities for continued development in the future. As a firm, it is important for us to be able to adapt once the impact becomes apparent.
What are the key challenges facing law practices today, in your opinion?
To maintain a high quality of advice whilst at the same time being in a more consumerist society generally. We know that information is abundantly available on the internet, but solicitors offer peace of mind. You really get what you pay for and we trust that people understand that. Traditionally, when I first started here, senior solicitors would have clients from different generations of one family. You very rarely changed solicitor then. Now, because of the internet and greater access to information, clients can change solicitor a lot more easily. This has only reinforced our determination and focus on forming personal relationships with our clients. I believe that is the key to success in a modern law practice.
Looking towards the future, what can we expect to see from Buss Murton?
There is always a thread connecting the past to the present to the future. The firm is committed to ensuring that the high quality of legal services we have delivered for over 300 years will continue and improve. You can expect to see more connections between our services, whether in a personal or business capacity. We will also be investing in technology so that clients can access our services in the way that works best for them. Locally, we expect to see continued growth in the number of owner-managed businesses and the legal services that they require. We also expect to see growth in the volume of personal work that we undertake for individuals across the communities which we serve.