Corporate Vision March 2017

68 CORPORATE VISION / March 2017 , Partner of the Year 2017 UK has been awarded to Andrea Smith of Franklins Solicitors LLP, who tells us about her passion for working with clients and the approach that she takes to growing her Corporate team. A People-Focused Approach “My clients are at the heart of what makes my job so enjoyable” begins Andrea Smith, a corporate solicitor and equity partner at Franklins Solicitors LLP and who was recently awarded Partner of the Year UK. “Every single transaction represents a different business from a variety of sectors, with a distinctive personality, and a new approach to business. You couldn’t do corporate work if you didn’t have a passion for working in such a changeable environment”. A corporate solicitor with 15 years’ experience, Andrea specialises in mergers, acquisitions and disposals. Her other areas of work are diverse but include shareholders agreements, share schemes, company re-structures and joint ventures. In order to provide a wide-ranging yet specialised provision of corporate services, Andrea and her team work closely with the firm’s commercial property, employment, commercial litigation and intellectual property specialists. “Being a medium-sized, regional law firm enables us to provide a flexible, approachable service to our clients, and to collaborate easily within the firm, which I think sets us apart from many of our competitors”, explains Andrea. “We are a partner-led firm, so clients always have a close source of contact with their relevant Partner and we also encourage dynamic interaction across all divisions in the firm. As a result, we often find that many clients are loyal to the firm and access a wide range of our services. These high levels of client retention are a credit to the ethos of the firm and the high standards of service that we set”. Internally, the firm adopts a similar people-focus and prides itself on its friendly, approachable and accessible working culture. This internal working culture is partly rooted in the firm’s accreditation with and commitment to the Investors in People Standard, but Andrea sees this culture as being more than just a policy: “As cliché as it may sound” she says, “I have heard members of staff describe the firm’s culture as ‘like a big family’”. “As a Partner of the firm I find it highly rewarding to hear members of my team and other employees of the Firm describe our working culture as such: it really validates the investment and energy that we as a firm put into our staff, and serves as a reminder that our people-centred approach to our legal practice (whether that be towards our staff or our clients) is worthy of nurturing.” While Andrea is evidently committed and driven to the growth and success of the firm, it is in the development of her corporate practice that she is particularly inspired. She speaks animatedly of innovations in the pipeline and warmly of the people on her team. “I am so proud of the growth of our Corporate Services department in Northampton”, she says. “I started out as a one-woman team having just come back from maternity leave and when the country was still in the depths of a recession. Since then, the team has not only grown in number, but also in the size of our client base, the value of deals that we act on, and our reputation in the Midlands region. For me that is a real achievement.” Currently, Andrea is working on an innovative due diligence service which aims to prepare a business and maximise its value prior to the sale and acquisition process. The service is a unique product to the owner-manager in the SME sector that the firm is proud to provide, and which has already received positive feedback from a number of clients that have undertaken this service. “I developed this service following my experience in share sales and acquisitions” explains Andrea. “I was finding that many businesses and companies were entering a sale transaction relatively unprepared for the full rigours of the process; had they started to engineer their exit strategy in advance, this would have maximised their sale price and made the sale process more efficient.” Another area which Andrea is particularly enthusiastic about is the world of start-up business. “The early days of starting a business or Company is enormously exciting”, she explains, “but it is also a steep learning curve and one in which clients are typically cost- conscious. I am therefore in the process of developing various collaborative initiatives that will provide cost-effective, initial guidance to help get start-up businesses off on the right foot.” This ethos of innovative solutions and collaboration is at the heart of Andrea’s growth plans, and her spirit is not dampened by the uncertainty of the commercial landscape as the UK commences its exit from the European Union. “Whether my clients are individual shareholders, business partners, small owner-managed businesses, or large national and international companies, I am yet to see the dynamism of the corporate space being dampened by Brexit despite the uncertainty of the commercial environment. Businesses are responsive, adaptable and ingenious entities that are savvy with how they strategise and plan for the future. For me, that’s what makes this career so exciting.” 1702CV41