Who? Vidisha Joshi, managing partner, Hodge Jones & Allen, London.
Why is she in the news? The firm announced that it is now entirely owned by its employees after the business was sold to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) in a John Lewis-style arrangement.
Thoughts: ‘We looked at the options of mergers and private equity but neither was suitable as they would have fundamentally altered the culture and ethos of the firm. This included potentially having to lose some parts of the business that deal with legal aid – something we were not willing to do. We then discovered the EOT model. It fitted with our succession strategy and meant that we could continue to serve our clients in the way we wanted. As a firm we have never been scared to do things differently and innovate. This was another example of this.’
Dealing with the media: ‘As we are the first law firm to adopt the 100% ownership model it has taken a while for people to understand what this meant. Everyone has heard of the John Lewis Partnership but it was a struggle to understand how this would work in a law firm. We have had briefings with different media outlets to enable them to better understand and communicate this. There has been a lot of interest, which was reflected in the coverage of the announcement, including pieces in the The Times and Financial Times.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘When I did work experience at a local legal aid practice I was hooked. Dealing with life-changing events such as tenant evictions, domestic violence and clients suffering horrific injuries made me realise that the law could be used to help make people’s lives better and have a positive impact on society. I knew from that point and from doing a training contract seat in PFI that I couldn’t be a corporate lawyer.’
Career high: ‘Two really stand out. The first was when I was appointed managing partner. I didn’t fit the stereotypical make-up of a managing partner, being a non-white female under the age of 40, but I was grateful that Patrick and the other equity partners believed in me. Last year saw the best financial performance in the firm’s history. The second has been the move to the EOT. This was a huge learning experience but I believe it will be very beneficial to the firm.’
Career low: ‘Dealing with the funding cuts to areas of the business has been especially hard. We continually have to look at different ways in which we can help people and in some cases rethink how we offer these services. It has meant that in some areas such as family law I have had to make the decision to stop offering services legal aid as the cuts meant it was no longer feasible.’