The creator of one of the first ‘virtual’ law firms has admitted there is a need for traditional office spaces after reviewing feedback from its clients and staff.

George Bisnought (pictured), the founder and managing director of Excello Law, spoke as the firm opened its fourth office in Leeds. It plans to open other offices across the UK in the coming months. 

Feedback from both clients and lawyers working at the firm highlighted the need to ‘evolve’ Excello’s virtual strategy, towards a model that combines a traditional and virtual approach, Bisnought told the Gazette.

‘Looking at the clients we are now attracting, for us [the change in strategy] was something we felt would bring additional benefits,’ he said.

‘We recognise that you can’t stand still and you have to adapt to what people need,’ he added. ‘We had to be more sophisticated to meet clients’ needs.’

Part of the feedback showed that clients and lawyers wanted to have a space for meetings in convenient city locations, as well as somewhere for lawyers to hold seminars and networking events, if they choose to.

But Bisnought stressed that the addition of office spaces will not mean that lawyers will need to be in the office every day and work fixed hours, with Excello’s focus still on providing lawyers with flexibility to work in the way they prefer.

The new mixed approach is likely to be a model other virtual law firms will follow, he said, as it is a ‘solid strategy’ that is working for the firm.

‘Having analysed our markets this is a successful route,’ he said. ‘We are a first mover and others follow.’

But he added that it is difficult to predict what other firms might do without knowing their individual businesses fully.

Excello had previously promoted home-working, in an effort to keep overheads to a minimum. In April 2014, it was granted an alternative business structure licence.

Over the past year the firm, which has a headcount of 55 senior lawyers, has opened offices in London, Liverpool and Sweden, in addition to the new office in Leeds.

It expects ‘further exponential growth’ in the coming year, and is recruiting more commercial lawyers.