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Plymouth law firm wins small business of the year award

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15/04/2016 Pic by: Penny Cross The Herald Business Awards 2016 Small Business of the Year, Portcullis Legals Ltd Sponsored by Plymouth University and City College Plymouth: Phil Davies and David Alder

Wills, trusts and probate law firm Portcullis Legals has won a small business of the year award in Plymouth, for its outstanding local achievements in community engagement, innovation and meeting its customer’s needs.

Portcullis Legals has been established in Plymouth for 28 years, but despite its traditional area of practice, it has had a far from traditional approach to business development.

I caught up with CEO and founder, Trevor Worth to find out more about why Portcullis Legals has made such a big impact in Plymouth:

“After 28 years of hard slog, ups and downs, daft decisions, great decisions…we were thrilled to be named as The Herald Small Business of the Year 2016.

“To win this in our home city of Plymouth and up against some truly innovative and inspirational firms from all sectors was both humbling and thrilling at the same time.

We were surprised and delighted to be recognised for the work we have been doing over so many years but it is truly fantastic news. I’m a proud Plymothian and winning this award makes my heart sing.

As a firm, we could not have done this without our amazing team of committed and first rate colleagues. Quite simply, the best team of people I could wish to have alongside me. Also a big thank you to all our wonderful clients and our professional partners for all their support over so many years.”

Behind the award has been an attitude of “get up and go” at Portcullis:

“We are not the type of firm that just sits back, rests on our laurels and just carries on as before. We love to disrupt the status quo and do things differently for the benefit of our customers.”trevor-profile

This isn’t just rhetoric for the website – in 2014 Trevor completed a One Planet MBA at Exeter University. His dissertation,”Innovation in Legal Services”, explored how legal services are being developed around the world.

Trevor explained to me how the process of completing his dissertation influenced him to make drastic changes:

“The research clearly stated that whilst consumers welcomed the other opportunities that technological disruption brings, a large swathe also wanted to retain that personal touch and local presence. We decided to open up a law store in an area that suited our researched demographics and give customers opening hours from 7am to 7pm, crystal clear fixed fees and focused upon their needs, rather than the needs and demands of lawyers. Too many law firms talk the talk but are really self-centric, and innovation to many of them means a refreshed website!”

law storeOn launching the store in January this year, Trevor said to the local media:

“We’re moving into the retail sector, and we define that as what the client wants.”

The law store offers a “walk-in” environment that is familiar to the customer and offers professional legal services at clear fixed fees:

“The MBA Dissertation looked at the business models in Australia, Canada and the USA and it was clear that consumers wanted greater transparency, different routes to market and the removal of the uncertainty over fees and the “smarm” that many consumers perceive lawyers possess.”

But that’s not all. Trevor is embedding the spirit of innovation at Portcullis Legals by launching two new conceptsiwill to the UK market.

Firstly, iWill – a  simple app aimed at younger people with less time, which allows the user to complete their wills and powers of attorney online, at a time and a price level that suits their lifestyle. Register as a member on Law Practice Manager and I will keep you updated on its development!

Then towards late summer, Trevor will be involved in the UK roll-out of Canadian Google Partner firm Lawyer Locate. Trevor, who is Vice President of Lawyer Locate UK, explained to me more about what this is about:

” Lawyer Locate have fifteen year’s experience of linking customers to the right lawyer across Canada. A new version with all of the proprietary software and knowledge ported into Lawyer Locate UK is set to take the UK market by storm. Why be part of someone’s new business model in this arena, when you can link with a Google Partner’s expertise and heritage of getting it right?”.

How does he find time for all of this? Trevor said:

“Innovation is at the very heart of our small business and we will continue to find new ways to find new customers, as well as consistently engage our existing customers. This is a very exciting time to be working within the legal services sector for those with the right entrepreneurial mindset” 

Trevor continues to guest lecture and mentor at many of the Universities and Colleges in the south of England and is an Associate of the University of Exeter, with a focus on innovation, new business models and entrepreneurship. And although he did not mention it, Portcullis Legals is very involved with supporting local causes and ventures, including current sponsorship for Plymouth students attempting a new world record.

If anyone is looking at developing innovative new ways of doing things at their law firm, I suggest you start with looking at what Trevor has achieved over just a few short years at Portcullis Legals. My sincere congratulations to you Trevor, and your team!

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