In the run-up to the 20th Yorkshire Legal Awards on 10 October, Yorkshire Legal News is profiling a number of finalists to find out why they entered, what they’ve achieved, and what it would mean to win
FTA Law has been named as a finalist in Niche Law Firm of the Year. Thomas Coates, managing director and corporate solicitor, explains what this means to the firm.
YLN: Why did you enter the Yorkshire Legal Awards?
Coates: Having previously worked at firms that have taken part in the Yorkshire Legal Awards, I know from experience the buzz that it creates within an organisation and what a talking point it becomes for the staff. The team here at FTA Law are hugely passionate about what we do and we saw this as a fantastic opportunity to recognise the part they have played in our successes to date. Simply being nominated as a finalist is proving hugely exciting and a major talking point. It has been worth it for that alone, before we even begin to consider the great publicity and regional exposure that follows from our deciding to take part.
YLN: Why do you think you were selected as a finalist?
Coates: Opening for business in April 2016, we are still at a relatively early stage in our journey. Having said that, I think the success we have achieved so far in a short space of time is quite remarkable. Starting with only two members of staff and no work on day one and growing that to a £1 million turnover business is something of which we are immensely proud and presumably this has contributed to our being chosen as a finalist.
Niche Firm of the Year is the award we have gone for and I struggle to envisage a firm that is more niche in nature than FTA Law, with around 95% of our work across all parts of the firm coming specifically from the dental sector. When you look at our growth to 15 staff members across all the key legal disciplines serving dentistry (corporate, property, litigation and employment), our support and development of staff, obtaining Lexcel accreditation within 12 months of opening our doors and our comprehensive programme of corporate social responsibility, I do feel that we tick the necessary boxes to reach the final.
YLN: How good have the last 12 months been?
Coates: It has been a great year. The last 12 months have seen us successfully relocate our office premises to accommodate a number of new starters and we have also undertaken a complete rebrand and relaunch of our subscription-based employment and HR services, with Oracle being our new offering in this area. To complement that we have invested in the recruitment of a dedicated non-lawyer sales manager at FTA Law to really drive this part of business forward, a hire that we understand to be the preserve of significantly larger firms than us. Our corporate team successfully completed on the largest deal we have undertaken to date, acting in the sale of a group of 12 practices for a sum in excess of £10 million and we have over the last year started to undertake more transactional work in the pharmacy sector.
A particular success of the last 12 months has been our recruitment of a commercial litigation solicitor as this was a service we found our clients increasingly asked if we could assist them with. To have now filled our new offices to capacity as well as to achieve growth in so many new areas across the firm means that the last 12 months have been a real success for us.
YLN: What would winning mean to you?
Coates: I know how important our nomination is to the team here and while we plan to have a fantastic evening regardless of the result, actually winning would be something extremely special for everyone. We are a close knit team here and to be able to share the experience of winning recognition on the Yorkshire stage among such illustrious company would be a true badge of honour for all involved.
On a personal level, taking the plunge to leave the security of partnership in a well-respected regional firm to set up a new firm was not a decision that was taken lightly or without risk. For FTA Law to be recognised as Yorkshire Niche Firm of the Year would be an achievement of which I would be immensely proud and a real highlight of my career to date.