Fletchers’ arrival in the list of top 100 UK law firms by revenue is the latest milestone in quite a journey.
Launched in 1987 by Rob Fletcher, who is still the chairman, the firm initially specialised in motorbike accidents, before expanding into other areas of personal injury law. But it remained a relatively small firm until the civil justice reforms began ten years later and, seeing an opportunity as the government enacted changes that favoured larger legal service providers, Fletchers embarked on a strategy to scale up.
Since then Fletchers has marketed itself heavily to expand its reach and embraced technology to boost efficiency. In respect of the former, the firm has enjoyed considerable success through sponsorship of TV show Judge Rinder by its consumer brand, Patient Claims Line, and has developed a very active social media presence that saw it become one of the first law firms to be verified on Twitter. On the tech front, Fletchers has partnered with the University of Liverpool and Innovate UK as part of a landmark project to develop artificial intelligence for the legal sector. The project is currently funding two PhD students to work between Fletchers and the University of Liverpool’s computer science department.
Aside from making the top 100 — a position it maintained this year with an increase in turnover by 10%, to £29.2 million, after first breaking into the list in 2018 — the other big recent development for Fletchers has been the launch of its new Manchester office in 2017. Having previously operated out of ever larger premises in Southport, where the firm was founded, the move to open a further base in the North West’s first city was considered a major statement to the market. Fletchers now employs nearly 500 staff across both the Manchester and Southport offices.
Fletchers takes on eight trainees each year, with many of them doing the Legal Practice Course (LPC) part time alongside their training. The firm also takes on a number of solicitor apprentices each year. Recruitment is via Fletchers’ annual summer vacation scheme, shorter work experience placements and direct application.
Trainees speak highly of the “variety” and “range of exposure” they receive during their training, alongside the mixture of opportunities “to work on more complex cases” and “to handle my own smaller cases”. One tells us: “The work is interesting and every case is different and therefore you never feel like the work is repetitive”. Cases include everything from multi-million pound claims across the spectrum of medical negligence to Court of Protection cases and serious injury matters.
Special mention is made of Fletchers’ accommodation of its part-time LPCers: “Balancing working full time, a training contract and the LPC part time is tough. I am provided with great support however.” Another adds: “At the moment I am still studying my LPC and therefore on finishing work I have to go home and do the work for my LPC workshops. I never feel like it is frowned upon if I leave at 5pm and don’t stay behind.”
Supervisors are notably down-to-earth. “I always feel I can approach my supervisors and be honest with them about how I am coping. I don’t feel concerned about going to them when I have issues or queries which is very reassuring when you’re moving around and constantly working for new people,” one Fletchers rookie reports. And there is a nice, “mutually supportive” vibe among trainees and junior lawyers, who enjoy a lively social life. “Always social events going on ran by a very dedicated social team,” confides an insider.
When it comes to perks, Fletchers may not seek to compete with the ‘sushi to your desk’ glamour freebies of magic circle firms, but it certainly beats them on the hours, with a very respectable average leave the office time of 5:31pm.
Named over the summer as one of the London Stock Exchange’s ‘1000 Companies to Inspire Britain’, Fletchers offers an interesting alternative for students who want an alternative to corporate law at a firm that is clearly going places.