James Swede at Darlingtons, North London’s largest full service law firm, speaks to us about how the firm has become a natural choice for clients who need specialist solicitors.
Established nearly 20 years ago, father and son, David and James Swede, two prominent solicitors from a large West End practice, decided to set up practice themselves. The firm has grown year on year and has 17 specialist solicitors across a range of commercial services.
Darlingtons positions itself as an ideal choice for clients who are big enough to need specialist lawyers, but who may not be the most important clients for larger firms. There is a natural fit between these clients and Darlingtons. The firm is best known for commercial property, corporate and commercial advice and for commercial litigation.
James Swede speaks to us about what he did before setting up Darlingtons. “I trained and practised in a major West End practice before starting Darlingtons,” says James. “This was invaluable experience in dealing with dynamic, highly sophisticated business people who have high expectations of their lawyers and who see lawyers not as paper shufflers but trusted advisors who find solutions and are proactive.”
James explains that there is a combination of elements which make up the excellent client service provided by Darlingtons. The service which the firm provides ensures the client is always their number one priority.
“Organisational set up is important but equally, delegating appropriately, as no lawyer can be in five places at the same time. Having good support staff who are courteous, knowledgeable and efficient is vital but also who have the confidence to deal with successful people. Technology is also important and a priority, especially as law is still seen by some as an old fashioned profession. Over and above these things, we offer clients 100% commitment. My mentality and that of the firm, recognises that most legal matters are very urgent and important from the client perspective.”
Teamwork is also at the forefront of the firms culture, according to James.
“For us, a team ethos is essential. Legal practice is changing rapidly and client expectations have changed significantly. It is up to lawyers to adapt not clients,” explains James. “Maintenance of the firm ethos is achieved by regular social and other activities but also team meetings. Our work and client base means that commonly, different departments work together, such as on large property deals which invariably require significant corporate law input as well as from our property department. The first aspect of recruiting staff is to be proactive; not to only recruit when we need more staff or somebody leaves, which is reactive. We are always looking for likeminded, talented people. The mind-set we look for us is good legal ability but also commercial acumen and driven people who are self-starters.”
“Competition and the internet,” says James when quizzed on the biggest challenges and changes to legal practice.
“There are now 10 times more lawyers than there were 25 years ago. The internet also means clients have access to legal information in a way they didn’t before and find and assess lawyers online. Like all law firms, we have had to adapt and up our game in every way.”
James finishes the interview by telling us the most rewarding aspects of working in the legal sector, saying, “client and colleagues and then the satisfaction of getting a transaction completed and the conversation confirming this to clients who I have great personal relationships with. My clients’ success makes me feel as good as my firm’s success.”
For the future, Darlingtons plans are to remain adaptable and flexible. The firm aims “to deliver on client expectations and to be an employer who people want to work for. Everything else – growth and success, flows from this.”
Company: Darlingtons Solicitors LLP
Name: James Swede
Email: [email protected]
Web Address: www.darlingtons.com
Address: Darlingtons House, Spring Villa Park,
Edgware, Middlesex, HA8 7EB
Telephone: 0208 951 6666