The first large law firm in the UK to bring in employee ownership has shared £800,000 equally between all of its eligible staff members.
Cornish law firm, Stephens Scown LLP – the current holder of the UK Law Firm of the Year title from the British Legal Awards – has made the pay-out, which is an increase of 10 per cent on last year. In May the firm announced growth of 8 per cent for the year ended April 2017, with fee income rising to £19.285 million.
Stephens Scown, which is also the highest ranking law firm in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For list, introduced its employee ownership scheme in May 2016, after several years of planning. Although the scheme was not officially in place last year, the firm chose to distribute a bonus as though it was.
Scownership, as the scheme has been named by staff, means that once staff have worked for the firm for six months after their probation period, they can become employee owners, and entitled to an equal share in the firm’s profits.
Robert Camp, Stephens Scown’s managing partner said: “For me the key thing is that employee ownership means we all have a real stake in the business as owners. Everyone at the firm makes an equal contribution, so it is only fair that everyone gets an equal share of our profits – regardless of job title or perceived seniority. Our move to employee ownership was not easy because of the regulation around law firms, however we have never looked back. It has been great for retaining and attracting talent, and instilling a sense of us all being in this together – something which is passed on to our clients through ever improving client engagement.”
Jo Maher, a legal secretary in the employment team at Stephens Scown and one of the Trustees voted by colleagues to administer the Scownership employee ownership trust said: “The tag line for our employee ownership scheme, that was chosen by our staff, is ‘there’s no place like Scown’ and that really sums it up. This is a special place. We are not employees, we are owners – and that makes a huge difference.”