An expanding Yorkshire firm has become the latest legal business to become entirely owned by its employees.
The three shareholders with Ison Harrison agreed to sell the business to an employee ownership trust, giving staff a share of profits made in the future.
Directors opted against a traditional business sale or other merger options, instead transferring ownership to the trust and appointing five new directors to the board.
Jonathan Wearing, who has been head of the firm for 15 years, remains managing director with Richard Timperley and Dominic Mackenzie, the other two shareholder directors, continuing as finance director and head of private client respectively.
Wearing said: ‘Given our size we felt a new structure was necessary for us to continue to grow. By becoming an employee owned business and extending the breadth and reach of the board we feel that we are really well set up for whatever the future holds. The move offers stability, continued job security for all of our dedicated staff and a platform for further growth.
‘Employees will have a greater influence over the future direction of the firm, will financially benefit from the ongoing success of the business and continue to deliver unrivalled client service in the multitude of private and commercial arenas in which we operate.
‘It will allow us to involve and reward everyone, attract talent in the region and demonstrate a genuine point of difference in a competitive market.’
The firm, which started as a one-man band more than 40 years ago, now has 230 staff working from 16 sites across Yorkshire. As well as adding two new offices, the firm has in the last two years expanded its commercial offering to go alongside its residential property, wills and probate and family departments.
The employee ownership sector witnessed unprecedented growth in 2020, which continued throughout 2021. Over 250 new employee-owned businesses were created in the past 18 months, with 72 of those in the first quarter of 2021 alone, making a total of 730 employee owned businesses in the UK (as of June 2021).
In the legal sector, south west firm Stephen Scown LLP was the first to opt for employee ownership. Since then, the likes of Midlands firm Talbots Law, Oxford-based Hedges Law and London practices Doyle Clayton and Hodge Jones & Allen have all made similar changes.
* For more on Ison Harrison’s eye-catching business model, see today’s digital edition of the Gazette here.