The secret ingredient to law firm Mishcon de Reya’s success

How is the law firm that took on the UK government with Article 50 and took on the Royal Family as Princess Diana’s divorce attorneys so successful?

Is it because of their high-profile cases or is there another secret ingredient?

I was keen to find out.

So today, Elliot Moss, Partner and Chief Brand Officer at Mishcon, and Patrick Connolly, Director of the Mischon de Reya Academy, let us in on their secret.

I wanted to understand what sets the law firm apart from their competitors.

How do they attract and retain such incredible talent?

And what makes them top of their class?

We talk about the key progressive values of the company and why they are so important.

We hear about the type of person that chooses to work there.

And a few of their impressive initiatives that have become an important part of the company.

Elliot and Patrick’s responses say a lot about the firm, and there is one thing that connects all of their answers: It’s their human centric strategy.

Today we bring this to life.

So throw on those running shoes, or grab that favourite beverage, and here is Patrick and Elliot.

And please don’t forget to let us know what you think of this episode, leave a review and subscribe.

00:00:02:05 – 00:00:27:03
Philippa White
Welcome to the show, where we unearth new ways of looking at ever evolving lights around the world. Seen from a number of different industries, cultures and backgrounds. But there’s one thing that unites everyone I speak to. They all want to do their part to make the world better in their own unique ways. It’s a uniting passion. Whether they’re from the commercial world, third sector or public sector from the Global North or the global south.

00:00:27:15 – 00:01:06:08
Philippa White
My name is Philippa White and welcome to TIE Unearthed. Hello and welcome to episode 75 of TIE Unearthed. The international law firm Mishcon de Reya is known for being a challenger brand and they definitely don’t shy away from a challenge. They’ve taken on the UK government more than once in some pretty famous cases. They were Princess Diana’s divorce attorneys and they took on Article 50 proving that exiting Europe without MPs having a vote as well as proroguing or closing parliament were unlawful.

00:01:07:03 – 00:01:39:06
Philippa White
But these aren’t the reasons I wanted to speak with. Elliot Moss and Patrick Connolly from the firm. Today I wanted to understand how Mishcon is so successful and what are the secret ingredients. Elliot is partner and chief brand officer at Mishcon. We worked together in 2002 during his leadership at the London Ad Agency, Leo Burnett. But since 2009, he’s been responsible for the brand marketing, communications, client development, new business and social impact for Mishcon.

00:01:39:19 – 00:02:13:04
Philippa White
And the business has grown significantly since he’s been involved. And Patrick is director of the Mishcon Duryea Academy, their in-house place of learning driver for growth and platform for thought leadership. Patrick oversees the strategic direction of the academy, which includes creating university quality education for everyone at the firm and publishing market leading research. Now I wanted to understand what sets the law firm apart from their competitors?

00:02:13:17 – 00:02:42:20
Philippa White
How did they attract and retain such incredible talent? And what makes them top of their class? Elliot in Patrick’s responses, say a lot about the firm. And there’s one thing that connects all of their answers. It’s their human centric strategy. And today we bring this to life. So throw on those running shoes or grab that favorite beverage. And here is Patrick and Elliot Elliott.

00:02:43:02 – 00:02:47:05
Philippa White
And Patrick, thank you so much for joining us today. How are you?

00:02:47:18 – 00:02:49:07
Patrick Connolly
Good. Thanks for inviting us.

00:02:49:09 – 00:02:51:21
Elliot Moss
Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for the double act from London.

00:02:51:21 – 00:03:20:08
Philippa White
I know this is very exciting. It’s wonderful to have three people on tie on nerves and one at one time. So before we start talking about Mishcon, because I’m I’m really excited to just dove into some of these conversations that we’ve had already, but just to get other people to understand more about what you do. I’d love to just back up and talk a little bit about your background and you know, before Mishcon and how you got into this work.

00:03:20:11 – 00:03:57:12
Patrick Connolly
Shall I go first? So my name is Patrick Connolly, and I’m the Academy director at Mishcon and I’m sure to talk much more about the Academy. And the Academy ultimately looks after all of the learning for everybody in the firm. My background is I’m not a lawyer. I trained as a chartered accountant in Deloitte and resigned on the day I qualified because I didn’t want to be an auditor for the rest of my life and then went to teach the accountancy qualification company called Kaplan, who I think is based all over the world.

00:03:57:24 – 00:04:33:04
Patrick Connolly
So I ended up teaching lots of different accounting students, getting involved in client management, working with all the big four accounting firms, setting up online, learning and school leaver programs and graduate programs, and was there for 12 years until 2018 and wants to seek out new opportunity and MySQL and were recruiting for a newly created position of academy director and Mishcon actively seek to get non-legal voices and minds within the firm to challenge the way things are done.

00:04:33:05 – 00:04:36:09
Patrick Connolly
So I joined Mishcon in 2018.

00:04:37:02 – 00:04:49:08
Philippa White
Yeah, that’s so interesting. That’s going to bring us nicely to what we’re going to be talking about in a bit. Yeah, fascinating. Eliot, I. For our listeners, I’ve known Eliot for a while, but also Eliot.

00:04:50:13 – 00:04:53:16
Elliot Moss
When, when was it like was it mid nineties, late nineties? I can’t remember.

00:04:53:16 – 00:04:56:07
Philippa White
It was 2002 thousand. One, 2000.

00:04:56:07 – 00:05:21:09
Elliot Moss
2001. Yeah. Right. Okay. So hello. Thanks for having me on as well. Eliot Moss and I’m called Chief Brand Officer and I’m a partner here, a michigander. And as Philip mentioned, we met in the wacky world of advertising. That’s where I started. I did a degree in politics and Spanish and ended up as a graduate trainee at Leo BURNETT, where I spent 12 years of my life, four in London, two in India, two in Latin America, then the rest in London again.

00:05:21:18 – 00:05:40:18
Elliot Moss
I then went on to become a managing director of an ad agency called Legacy Delaney, which was a very focused at one point very big agency, which was a bit smaller when I joined it. And I’m then was introduced to a client called Kevin Gold, who is the managing partner of a law firm called Mission Duran, which I’d heard of after I Googled it.

00:05:41:00 – 00:05:58:10
Elliot Moss
I remembered, oh, yes. As Princess Diana’s divorce lawyers, which was what the firm was famous for then. And I ended up two years later having the longest interview in the history of interviews, having done a brand positioning exercise with them, and having created some appetizing thinking. These are really great people. I almost had law. I wanted to be a lawyer.

00:05:58:14 – 00:06:14:14
Elliot Moss
Unlike Patrick, I thought I’d become a lawyer. Maybe never would resign as well. Actually, they was qualified to host, but I ended up being wanting to move. I never thought advertising would be the end. I thought it was a really brilliant career, but for me it was a sliver of the business world, my interest in a bunch of other stuff.

00:06:14:14 – 00:06:34:11
Elliot Moss
So I joined as a business professional with a with a mantra of, Well, you can do it. I don’t care what you’re called, just help me grow this business helped me, you know, run from this law firm. And that was back in 2009. And I’m here in 2023 and we’re ¬£300 million business plus. And we were about 45 million then, and we’re in a few countries and we’ll come on to all that stuff.

00:06:34:11 – 00:06:39:19
Elliot Moss
So it’s been it’s been a fabulous ride and it has been a ride which I’m sure we’ll go into a bit more detail. Yeah.

00:06:40:02 – 00:06:52:09
Philippa White
Absolutely fantastic. And just as another aside, so Elliot very kindly invited me to be on his podcast that you created for Mishcon, I think. Is that correct?

00:06:52:09 – 00:07:09:15
Elliot Moss
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, we created it as part of our positioning. So Jazz Shapers and you, Philip, were a a business shaper. The idea is that we interview shapers in the world of business and we play music from the shape of jazz, soul and blues. And that’s been going on Jazz FM, which as a firm because half the audience listen to radio for I can’t buy Radio four, I can buy as a firm.

00:07:10:00 – 00:07:11:23
Elliot Moss
And here we are with that show 12 years later.

00:07:12:20 – 00:07:13:24
Philippa White
I’m doing great.

00:07:15:15 – 00:07:19:14
Elliot Moss
And it works the business. That’s the most important thing. It works really, really well in all sorts of ways.

00:07:20:02 – 00:07:34:17
Philippa White
Yeah, well, I wanted to plug that because it is a great show. Let’s let’s talk about Mishcon. So you’ve you’ve given a bit of a background, but can you bring it to life for our listeners? You know what sets Mishcon apart from other law firms?

00:07:34:17 – 00:08:03:12
Patrick Connolly
I think picking up my journey in 2018, I definitely felt I didn’t know about law firms. I’d never really worked with law firms before. I didn’t know what it was going to be like joining. And I think my experience of Mishcon in the last five years has been very nonhierarchical, very creative, very entrepreneurial people who I used to work with in the accounting sector say, What’s it like to work in a law firm?

00:08:03:12 – 00:08:24:23
Patrick Connolly
And I don’t know, because I think Mishcon is completely different to any other law firm. And I think if I went to another law firm, what their it would probably feel completely different. And just to give a personal example, I think in relation to the entrepreneurial creativity, listening to ideas, it’s grounded in the core values which I’m sure we’ll talk more about, but a personal example.

00:08:24:23 – 00:08:56:02
Patrick Connolly
So I had worked with lots of accounting firms setting up their school leaver and apprenticeship programs. And when I came to the legal sector, a lot of law firms, the legal sector didn’t really have a school program. They had to establish a graduate program, meaning they would recruit from universities straight into a structured grad program. And I wanted to set up a school program, so I talked to various different senior people about it.

00:08:56:02 – 00:09:17:21
Patrick Connolly
I was invited into a board meeting. I pitched the idea of having a formal solicitor apprenticeship, as it’s called, in the UK School Leaver program and rather than that’s a good idea, let’s come back to it in six months. Let’s think about it, let’s have more meetings. They just said, go for it. This is a good idea. This is something we want to do.

00:09:17:21 – 00:09:41:01
Patrick Connolly
It fits with our wider strategy. It fits with our core values. Let’s do it. We had our first solicitor school apprenticeship program in 2020 and we’ve had an intake ever since. So I think if you’ve got a good idea, it will be supported. And I think it’s that we almost call it entrepreneurialism attitude that’s encouraged within the firm.

00:09:41:05 – 00:09:43:20
Philippa White
Yeah, that’s really interesting. Yeah. Elliot.

00:09:44:04 – 00:09:46:04
Elliot Moss
Everything Patrick says is right. I agree with him.

00:09:46:05 – 00:09:46:14
Patrick Connolly
Thanks.

00:09:46:19 – 00:10:06:24
Elliot Moss
Next question. What he said, what is this place? It’s a bit unusual. Kevin Gold, who I mentioned earlier, described it as university. Like university. But you’re not. But you’re getting paid. That’s the difference. So there’s a lot of we talk about a lot of IQ per square foot. We talk about this brave maverick attitude towards stuff happens to be the law.

00:10:06:24 – 00:10:34:17
Elliot Moss
But actually it’s the way we run our business. We’re surrounded by people that love the business of the law as well as as well as being lawyers. And I think that’s what makes this firm interesting, an entrepreneur and an entrepreneurial. As Patrick said, people talk about color. People talk about it being a colorful place with lots of individuals who understand the wider drive, which is kind of a a big one, which is all about fighting for our clients so they get the right outcomes, whether that’s in the litigation or whether that’s in a deal.

00:10:35:04 – 00:10:56:02
Elliot Moss
They talk about being it, being progressive, a place that has really strong values, as Patrick mentioned, around what’s doing what’s right on equity and diversity inclusion before. Those are the words that we use to sustain ability. We talk about this sense that we’re a challenger brand. Doesn’t matter how big we are. We love to challenge the status quo, probably not dissimilar from the BBH, Philip, that you were you were in.

00:10:56:02 – 00:11:16:08
Elliot Moss
We’re very much seen as that business inside this industry with the black sheep and we’re like Marmite too. So you love it or you don’t. But over the years, that means that we will take on big cases like Article 50 when we it was called Miller Won. Gina miller was the client where we took on the legality of the process being followed around the referendum.

00:11:16:08 – 00:11:34:02
Elliot Moss
It wasn’t anything to do with our position on it. Of course, it’s just to do with the fact that it was illegal. It was not within the constitution of the UK, constitutional conventions and therefore we, we challenged the fact that it’s going to be okay to come out of Europe without a vote in Parliament. It wasn’t the something called Miller to prorogation of Parliament.

00:11:34:19 – 00:11:53:13
Elliot Moss
The Prime Minister, then Boris Johnson, decided to close Parliament down. He did it illegally. We challenged that many of the law firms would shy away. We don’t. So, yes, it is an unusual maverick place. And because we did this, the most famous woman on the planets divorce people have heard of misconduct. People have heard of misconduct because we took on the government a number of times.

00:11:53:13 – 00:11:56:21
Elliot Moss
So it’s a very unusual place and it is a hotbed of ideas.

00:11:57:07 – 00:11:57:20
Philippa White
Yeah.

00:11:58:02 – 00:11:58:20
Elliot Moss
That’s why we love it.

00:11:59:06 – 00:12:33:06
Philippa White
I’m covered in goose bumps, actually, because one of my next questions around being human centric. But before I get there, I just want to back up and just push a little bit on when you’re talking about the values and maybe also competencies of leaders, you know, I am keen to understand, as you know, I am writing a book or I’m coming to be sort of in the editing stages now of that book called Return on Humanity and that’s also why I wanted to have you both on here, because I know that I mean, just what you’re saying, you know, a law firm, but to have an appetite for a bit of risk, to sort of

00:12:33:06 – 00:12:48:18
Philippa White
not have all of those lengthy meetings and say, no, I trust you, go, go. Let’s see what happens, Patrick. I love that. Go, go do it. Or to the you know, to other people within the business. And I think, you know, there’s not a lot of companies that do that. And I just think it’s amazing to hear that from a law firm as well.

00:12:48:18 – 00:12:54:19
Philippa White
So maybe can you just bring that to life a bit? The values, the competencies and leaders? What what do you look for?

00:12:55:04 – 00:13:34:14
Patrick Connolly
I think we’ve got the core values that are publicly available on our website. And from a learning perspective through the academy. It’s something that we ensure are represented in all of our different programs. And we quote the core values in terms of lots of our learning and devise lightweight strategies around them. For example, it talks about diversity and I felt supported in relation to creating the apprenticeship school program because it’s something that’s a core value, it’s something we believe in and we believe that it’s important for the business not just a tick box exercise.

00:13:34:23 – 00:13:58:16
Patrick Connolly
We talk about not being constrained by convention in our core values as well, and I think that needs to be able to take on interesting cases that maybe other firms would maybe set up. Group companies do incubators. We call it the MDO Lab that maybe other firms would not. So it’s doing things that we think are important and that make a real difference.

00:13:59:01 – 00:14:06:07
Patrick Connolly
I met you, Philip, her last time in Africa House and you came in. I mean, what the sense did you get from it when you thought she could win?

00:14:06:12 – 00:14:24:12
Philippa White
It’s such a good question because I’ve got real thoughts and feelings so much so that I come back home and told people about it. So one, the person who greets you when you come in, the person is actually it was amazing because I love talking to anybody that I come in contact wherever I am. So I come in and.

00:14:24:21 – 00:14:43:04
Philippa White
Oh, hi. Can I help you? Yeah, no, I’m here to meet with Patrick. Yeah, no, actually, I said, are you well? And they’re like, Yeah, no, I’m really well, thank you. Yeah. Are you well? Yeah. No, I’m great. So already I’ve had a conversation. Then I go to the reception desk and I might have. I remember the last time, not this time, but the time before I came a bit early and I hadn’t had lunch.

00:14:43:10 – 00:14:58:02
Philippa White
And I just wanted to know if I had time to quickly go off and have a. Yeah, no. Do you want to leave your bag here? That’s absolutely fine. I can just stick it behind my chair. Here, just leave your bag. There’s a Sainsbury’s or there’s a like I can press or something just around the corner. Absolutely. Just grab a sandwich.

00:14:58:02 – 00:15:23:22
Philippa White
I’ll let Patrick know that you’re coming. Then I sit down and then the person at the coffee place, they come over to you immediately. What can I get you? And then you have whatever cutting drink that you want and they bring it over to you. So even though because it’s quite a posh office for people listening, I mean, the building itself, when it’s, it’s in near Holborn Station, it’s this beautiful big stone building that you open these double brass door handle.

00:15:23:22 – 00:15:37:09
Philippa White
You know, you grab them, you sort of open it and you sort of come into a marble floor, beautiful chandelier. I mean, it’s absolutely amazing, but it’s very warm. It’s very human. And it’s because of the humans that greet you every single step of the way. Yeah.

00:15:38:19 – 00:15:40:15
Patrick Connolly
Thank you. I’ll stop asking you questions now.

00:15:42:04 – 00:16:14:10
Elliot Moss
I think I think the point is the values are really strong. And actually, you talked about competencies for leaders. And yes, we do have lots of training courses and stuff. But the truth is we judge ourselves by our values. So it’s very easy when you talk about and the core one of the core values one of the core core values is about helping people realize their potential, which is a massive point as to why people feel good here, because they, like Patrick alluded to, you know, I’ve got this idea, what about that’s Patrick realizing his potential if I want to invest in the brand because we have an opportunity to do something that no other

00:16:14:10 – 00:16:34:13
Elliot Moss
professional service is doing quite the same way, then I’m given that authority and at every level people’s the whole mantra of the firm, the reason why we want to grow our revenue is not simply to be a large tool family is to help people be the very best that they can be, which may sound very cheesy, but is actually the truth, because that’s the way that you generate energy and ideas.

00:16:34:20 – 00:16:53:07
Elliot Moss
You liberate people and you give not just ten people, not 20 people, not 30 people, not 40. You have many are leading the business on any given day. You get 1500 people that authority and you do that because you get the best ideas and you do that because you’re going to grow your business. And that point you made about reception, we intentionally have the no uniform uniform.

00:16:53:07 – 00:17:09:02
Elliot Moss
They don’t wear uniforms. You’re not asked to put a badge on in the most corporate violence because that’s not normal. That’s not human. That’s a weird thing to do. We want to deconstruct the structure of what business is about. We talk about being essentially human in our ten year vision, which you wrote in 2016, and yet technologically transformed.

00:17:09:12 – 00:17:27:18
Elliot Moss
So whilst the world, the values are immutable, but the way that we present ourselves is different, you get all that the minute you will, the minute you will or you do. And even the uniform that isn’t a uniform was designed by a fashion designer. It was designed by someone going that looked like and we took our whole the movement from the door.

00:17:27:18 – 00:17:44:13
Elliot Moss
You often if you come in those big doors, you talk about us as things Kingsway you brought through, you’re almost like you’re welcomed into our home. Yeah. And when we when we say goodbye to people, we don’t leave them often at the reception. Ideally, people walk in to the to the front door and they say cheerio. That’s all part of it.

00:17:44:22 – 00:18:07:15
Elliot Moss
And we’ve done that everywhere. So that seems like a superficial thing. But even the coffee we serve or the newspapers and the magazines that are in reception, the design, the use of the designers that we’ve used, all of it is around curating what we want people to feel. It’s all part of it, and that goes to creating an environment where people feel comfortable to express themselves, because if they express themselves, we get better value from them.

00:18:07:15 – 00:18:09:14
Elliot Moss
People are more productive and only got.

00:18:10:07 – 00:18:29:09
Philippa White
Totally and I mean, that is the definition of people first, profit second. And I feel I think the status quo is questioning if, you know, we need to focus on making money and then we’ll look after the people. And you have just articulated that people first profit. Second is is possible. Would you agree with that? I mean, would you say but.

00:18:29:10 – 00:18:42:21
Elliot Moss
I don’t know if it’s profit. Second, because this is a very profitable business and we need to be profitable in order to be able to hire the best. That’s the other reason why we like to have a good profit margin, because it means we can go out and get the best talent and get the best talent you’re building on what you’ve got.

00:18:42:24 – 00:19:00:03
Elliot Moss
I think under the bonnet of the really nice reception and the nice welcome is a very serious business which has a lot of rigor. We have an inordinate amount of reviews and the number of reviews of where the business is, of what our strategy is, of how we need to iterate it. We have about 40 businesses within our one business.

00:19:00:10 – 00:19:23:13
Elliot Moss
It’s made up of lots of different 650 lawyers, and they split into about 30 groups. Patrick mentioned the the Amish and our group companies. We have a we have an e-discovery business. We have a brand management business. We have a digital transformation business, so on and so forth. We have in the cyber business and a private office business, all of those are full of of bright people.

00:19:23:23 – 00:19:30:11
Elliot Moss
And you can’t they all have to make money. They don’t make money then they can’t exist. So I think it’s it’s.

00:19:31:08 – 00:19:32:08
Philippa White
Finding that balance.

00:19:32:13 – 00:19:48:15
Elliot Moss
It’s finding that balance. Yeah. But you can’t make profit just by saying go make more profit. You do have to obviously have people as your primary concern because this is a cliche as a side of people business. We charge either by the hour of fixed fees or whatever it might be, but that’s based on time in any form.

00:19:48:15 – 00:20:05:08
Elliot Moss
And that time is people we’re not selling widgets. So those people has to be infused and energized and they have to be really good. They have to be among the best and most. I would say it’s hard to meet a stupid lawyer. Most lawyers are really bright, especially the top 5000 firms, without a doubt. So then it’s about, well, what else do they bring?

00:20:05:13 – 00:20:21:09
Elliot Moss
Are they really fighting for you across the table? Are they going to bleed when you bleed? As our clients often say, you know, you guys really go the extra mile. Are they going to pick up the phone within 10 minutes on a Sunday when something’s going on or responding to a WhatsApp message? The answer is yes and that’s the difference as well.

00:20:21:23 – 00:20:41:00
Philippa White
But I think yeah, and I hear what you’re saying, but I think, like you say, you wouldn’t they believe in it and they believe in the in the place and the values that there is. And you can’t have that if the sole focus, like you say, is money, money comes. But people need to feel that they are part of something.

00:20:41:13 – 00:21:03:10
Elliot Moss
Absolutely. And younger. We have. But it’s even more important as the years go by, because I always said it was when I joined as a trainee in 1993, in my first business. But right now, with the climate issues and people are really scared of what’s happening to our to our planet with issues around instability, around war and other things that are related to values.

00:21:03:10 – 00:21:21:12
Elliot Moss
People of 2025 have to know that you stand for something and also they have to know that you’re against stuff as well. I remember we had Nick Robinson from Radio four came the Today program came into our last Pioneers conference and he said, people need to know what you stand for and they need to know what you stand against.

00:21:21:21 – 00:21:31:02
Elliot Moss
And that’s really important. And we’re not scared to say that because I think that is what makes us interesting to potential clever people, whether they’re lawyers or business professionals coming into Michigan.

00:21:31:17 – 00:21:43:04
Philippa White
What would you what does it mean to be human centric? And how do these human centric values impact your work specific?

00:21:43:14 – 00:22:15:05
Patrick Connolly
I think from an academy perspective, I feel like the most senior people in the business are invested in the academy and want to invest in the people in the firm and they’re learning the academy. All my focus and ideal is to deliver university quality education to everybody in the firm, and that really is everybody in the firm, and it’s available to everybody.

00:22:15:17 – 00:22:45:09
Patrick Connolly
Through that, we offer firm wide learning, bespoke learning, we offer coaching and we have terms where we launch a prospectus at the beginning of each time. We don’t just do really narrow technical learning for people’s jobs. We do broad learning across different subjects, legal and business and personal core skills and technology. We bring interesting people in to do talks.

00:22:45:17 – 00:23:20:16
Patrick Connolly
We do transition programs. When people get promoted, we offer executive coaching to everybody in the firm. So I think it’s that we are, as Elliot said, we’re a people business, we’re selling our time and we have to invest in these people to deliver to the highest standards. And we want to create. I report into the Chief People Officer, Vanessa du hast, and she said, my job is to create interesting and interested people within the firm, and that really is through that investment.

00:23:20:16 – 00:23:30:05
Patrick Connolly
And I feel that, as I said before, the most senior people believe in the academy and it’s got a really strong internal brand name because of that.

00:23:30:19 – 00:23:51:12
Elliot Moss
And I think we at the Academy are 2013 and and it’s kind of just the summation of Michael, everything Patrick said, which is we want open minds. We want people with open minds in our business because we think that’s what makes a great lawyer and what makes a great business professional. So the more interested you are and the more interesting things are around you, then the better you will be able to give advice.

00:23:51:23 – 00:24:19:00
Elliot Moss
Because when I’m giving you advice, if I was a lawyer, I’m not a lawyer. I was giving you advice on your employment status then I’m not just giving you advice about your employment status. I’m giving advice about where you are in your life, what the next move might mean to you, what it means if you’re going to go and set your own business up and you’re coming out of a really stable environment like you were, what is what’s the lawyer’s role in that beyond simply ensuring that the exit works or that the next or your articles of association of your new company are right?

00:24:19:05 – 00:24:35:02
Elliot Moss
Where are you going to incorporate it’s actually does this lawyer does his is get the nuances of moving country of not being in state all those things like you got a lawyer that gets that you’re like I want some of that not so that’s what we want our lawyers to be. And those two bits from my perspective on this as well.

00:24:35:09 – 00:24:55:08
Elliot Moss
One is that we love difference. So one of the books we used to create for All Induction Pacts was the headline was What Makes US Michigan? And inside you’ve got like 15 different examples of the fact we’ve got a circus act expert in in the firm. We’ve got a comedian in the firm, we’ve got a water skier. We’ve got really the weird and the wonderful.

00:24:55:14 – 00:25:22:16
Elliot Moss
It is a micro microcosm. It’s the seismic. We love that. And if you want to create a little club bit like university, but you’re getting paid, then you go do that as well. So there’s a sense of embracing individuality rather than trying to cookie cutter it on the one side and then the other side to the point about being human centric, the rubber hits the road when it comes to relationships and our relationships externally, whether that’s with clients or with intermediaries and intermediaries and interest and all the people that can refer as business in a legal environment and also professional services.

00:25:22:16 – 00:25:47:06
Elliot Moss
About half of all our new business comes from someone intimidating, saying, I think you should talk to these people. So we’ve elevated the importance of relationship management to the same level as legal technical ability. That’s unusual, but it goes to the heart of a human centric approach because you can’t deliver good advice if you don’t know how to talk to humans or more importantly, in the legal framework and an advice business.

00:25:47:10 – 00:26:06:22
Elliot Moss
Listen to humans. So relationship management from my side of and Patricks is all around Ellen Day and all the other millions of things that we do. Relationship management is the thing that I am obsessed with and have been for years because we look at our external relations and of course internal and external especially, and that’s why we go for our we have a net promoter score, which is 73%, which is world class.

00:26:07:03 – 00:26:18:00
Elliot Moss
You don’t just get that, you get that through redundancy, reminding people that actually you’re not just selling legal services. You’re selling legal services to people and people going through stuff they don’t. No one comes to law firm for fun.

00:26:19:02 – 00:26:27:00
Philippa White
It’s relationships, it’s empathy. It’s active listening. Yeah. So what would you say the return is on being human centric?

00:26:27:00 – 00:27:15:18
Patrick Connolly
I think a lot comes from retention. So within the academy we look after early careers graduates and school leavers, and we monitor our retention of graduates quite carefully. We had retention of our graduates qualifying of 88% last year and I think that is because the amount we invest in them, we have a two year development program we invest in beforehand in their legal studies, and I think we can see that retention throughout the firm as well, which is particularly important at the moment, given how uncertain the external environment is, because that’s what it says as well, feeling that sense of belonging that we stand for something the people know we don’t stand for.

00:27:15:19 – 00:27:41:01
Patrick Connolly
I think also that sense of to keep that going, that sense of community as well. And for example, we have lots of different clubs and societies and people want to join them. I have established the running club and we do have five chaotic men every Wednesday and it’s that sense that people do belong to something. They want to come in to work.

00:27:41:01 – 00:27:56:23
Patrick Connolly
Within my team, obviously everybody is working from home during the pandemic, but there was no real push to get people to come back into the office because they wanted to come back into the office. They wanted to be part of community. They wanted to do the Touch Rugby Club. They want to go to some party. They want to see the running club.

00:27:56:23 – 00:28:19:14
Patrick Connolly
They want to do the creative writing club. They want to go to the amazing cafe and go for lunch with people at the bottom of Africa house. They want to meet people in the client lounge. And I think your experience, the client lounge hopefully is a broader point of the communal experience that people visiting Mishcon and that are part of Michigan experience.

00:28:19:20 – 00:28:35:10
Elliot Moss
Yeah, I think the other thing that you mentioned in some of the comments around that attracting good people, you get a return because you can attract the best and if you can attract the best, then you’re more likely to have a little firm, which is one of the best. So that is another return, if you like, on this peace.

00:28:35:10 – 00:28:55:01
Elliot Moss
Retention is a big one, and until recently we’d hardly lost any partners, which is very strange that there wasn’t even a protocol for when we’ve been partners left. That’s very unusual. Now, times have changed a little bit and there are we do have more people even we’ve got bigger. So inevitably you’re going to have a higher number of people who find it isn’t for them, which is fine too.

00:28:55:01 – 00:29:18:24
Elliot Moss
It’s feeling like it’s different is the thing that keeps people very engaged. So yes, they stay, but they carry on being productive. And that point, Patrick, you mentioned about coming back into the office, we have never done the Goldman Sachs. You must be in. We haven’t we haven’t needed to. And that is because our culture is interesting, is because people want to learn and they understand.

00:29:19:02 – 00:29:37:24
Elliot Moss
We have we have issued principles. We’ve said, listen, the deal is we need you to come in. We need you can do what you like. I remember we issued an edict, but it was a non edict edict as a non policy policy which was we don’t care whether you work in Hoban or Halifax, we don’t care whether you work at 9 a.m. or a3am in the morning.

00:29:37:24 – 00:29:51:15
Elliot Moss
What we want you to do is a couple of things. Do the work you need to do for your clients. And if a client needs to see you, go see them. And if your team needs you, you see your team. And what that really says is, listen, of course, you can do what you like, of course, are independent.

00:29:51:15 – 00:30:13:22
Elliot Moss
And we are in the usual three days, in two days of working from home broadly. I mean, it’s a bit more scientific, but there are up to 750 humans in the building on any given day, which is pretty decent, even though that’s sort of a 50% number. But it feels more because suddenly a lot of people around. But it’s about giving people freedom and treating them like adults.

00:30:13:22 – 00:30:32:16
Elliot Moss
And I think that’s that’s the return as well. In the legal world, you need 1500 hours to be billable, but there’s a sense of you do that on your terms. So if you want to walk your dog, pick up your children. If you want to log on back again, you want to take the option of curtailing. Often if we just don’t care, it’s about outputs, not inputs.

00:30:32:16 – 00:30:37:08
Elliot Moss
And again, that’s just a very it’s a it’s a good way of looking at our business. And that’s the way we look at it.

00:30:37:20 – 00:30:56:08
Philippa White
It reminds me of our conversation that we had. I remember you saying one of the most important values that we have is trust. And that’s what that is. It’s trust and empowerment, right? It’s empowerment and trust, which again, is very much rooted in being human centric. There was a story, Patrick, that you told me that I remember you talking about the young people.

00:30:56:08 – 00:31:13:19
Philippa White
How many of the sort of these big ideas of new ways of doing things that the company have actually come from some of the more junior people, because you you like to to empower people to come up with new ideas. You have, you know, do you want to bring that story to life or.

00:31:13:19 – 00:31:51:21
Patrick Connolly
Yeah, I mean, the point that we were talking about before in relation to listening ideas, listening to ideas, being entrepreneurial, allowing people to be creative, one of the fastest growing group companies is MDR Ex Tech and that the CEO of Durex Tech is Tom Grogan, who is an associate who was an associate in corporate. And he had this idea supported by lots of different people in the firm feeding into it, that he was entrusted to create MDR Ex Tech and become the CEO, and he didn’t have to wait till he became partner to then do this idea.

00:31:51:21 – 00:32:16:14
Patrick Connolly
He was an associate who then headed up and now does head up. Media Rex Tech. Similarly, there was, I think, a paralegal who became trainee who was very interested in e-sports and esports is all about watching people play computer games and the people who are playing the computer games are very well-paid, transferred between teams like regular sports stars, but nobody doing their legal work.

00:32:16:14 – 00:32:36:03
Patrick Connolly
So working with the sports team, being able to provide legal work to those professional gamers and all these ideas about different things that can be done in different works and can be done. You don’t have to wait to become a partner to then finally unleash your ideas and get people to do them all. If it’s a good idea.

00:32:36:11 – 00:32:43:11
Patrick Connolly
And obviously lots of people feed into it and support it and make it happen, which is a good idea. It will be supported and it comes from this culture.

00:32:43:21 – 00:33:05:16
Philippa White
I mean, you’ve talked about broadening horizons and why that’s important, but perhaps you can just bring to life just why would it be important for people to watch different interviews or having different people talk or just having that just that exposure, be it international exposure or from different sectors?

00:33:05:24 – 00:33:25:22
Elliot Moss
I just think that the importance of people having different ideas beyond their own world is what makes their world richer. And you’re able to give more nuanced advice. And at the end of the day, the more nuanced and the more textured the advice, the more valuable it is. And I don’t mean the price is high, but just the more valuable it is to the client.

00:33:26:10 – 00:33:42:02
Elliot Moss
And that can’t be underestimated. And in the world of advertising for the people, we used to talk about people going to galleries and watching movies and all that stuff. And by the way, it’s exactly the same. I think the brain is a, you know, if we’re at 10% usage like we are with our phones, then there’s a long way to go.

00:33:42:15 – 00:34:19:06
Elliot Moss
So the more we can throw in people’s heads, the better. And also, when you’re trying to become a domain expert, if you want to be a generative A.I. expert, you can only do that by reading and watching and listening to people. To people you know, lots. If you want to understand the specifics of doing business in Singapore and why it’s important that you understand the investment, the new investment rules or the regime that the local government is creating to make it more interesting for families, you could families you can only do that by knowing you can’t pretend you know stuff and you can’t pretend you know stuff when you’re charging people many hundreds of pounds

00:34:19:06 – 00:34:32:22
Elliot Moss
an hour. It’s not really a new point on on the point you made before. But it’s if you do that at scale, then you have a really interesting business. That’s why we’re interested in ensuring that people really are exploding in their brains and just.

00:34:33:00 – 00:34:48:24
Philippa White
Exactly. And just it’s not just lawyers, it’s not just advertising, it’s leadership. And actually, the way that I start my book is this story about my uncle. And he was always one of the most inspiring people that I knew, but I never really knew why. And it was at his celebration of life. And anyway, when you read the book, you’ll see.

00:34:48:24 – 00:35:11:12
Philippa White
But, you know, it was the people that were there and the stories that were told. And I suddenly realized, Oh my God, that’s why he was the most inspiring person. And again, it was because he he stepped out of his normal silo. He exposed himself to completely different people, had different conversations. And as a result, you just become a really inspiring, interested, interesting person.

00:35:12:07 – 00:35:31:01
Philippa White
You very kindly had me on your podcast to talk about Thai, and once my book does launch very kindly, Patrick offered to have me also be one of those people to talk at Mishcon, just to kind of broaden people’s horizons. And just very quickly in just a few words, you know what? What is it about Thai that interests you?

00:35:31:08 – 00:36:09:08
Patrick Connolly
We’ve spoken a few times and I think I really love the description of yourself and Thai being a comfort zone disruptor and the fact that it’s all about self-discovery and experiential learning, and that really sits with the academy. We don’t see that just being lectured at and talked to and sometimes that works. But there has to be lots of different types of learning to get yourself out of your comfort zone, to broaden your technical ability and horizons as well.

00:36:09:17 – 00:36:39:13
Patrick Connolly
So I think there’s an alignment with the approach the Thai takes and also the approach the Academy takes as well. Sometimes you need learning by doing. Sometimes it’s learning by watching somebody’s dissonance, it’s learning by maybe experiencing somebody hearing from something. And it’s there’s different learning experiences that allow you then to grow. It’s why we feel that coaching is so important within our business.

00:36:39:21 – 00:37:04:17
Patrick Connolly
It’s why we invest in apprentices over such a long period of time so they can actually learn through doing legal work from a very young age as an alternative to going to university. So I think it’s for me and certainly from the learning Academy perspective, it’s that sort of similar approach that we take when undertaking learning through the academy.

00:37:05:04 – 00:37:05:13
Patrick Connolly
Yeah.

00:37:06:01 – 00:37:20:09
Elliot Moss
I, I think, I think that exactly. I agree. And I think the other thing is just taking people out of their comfort zones. I think that’s the main thing that we like. When you have the confidence to play at the edges, when you have the confidence to go live a different life, that’s when I think you learn the most.

00:37:20:09 – 00:37:38:16
Elliot Moss
I certainly learned tonnes when I lived in Mumbai for two years and traveled around Asia and then again in Mexico City. Back to that point about why we like to help people learn. You do fill your head with ideas and pictures when you go and live in a foreign country and you’ll know this. Look as if you live in Brazil all the time.

00:37:38:21 – 00:37:59:13
Elliot Moss
It’s a very different world. And when you’re you’ve grown up with different pictures and words in your head. So those to the 99% of the population who are living and working with you and you don’t realize that until you can’t take that for granted anymore because your reference points are different. And that’s a really amazing moment when you go, Oh, we don’t see it the same way.

00:37:59:17 – 00:38:07:11
Elliot Moss
And that’s where I think you get really interesting cultural clashes but in a cool way things and come together. It’s where new ideas are born. So that’s what we really like.

00:38:07:11 – 00:38:08:23
Philippa White
Thai Yeah. Thank you.

00:38:09:15 – 00:38:23:24
Patrick Connolly
And that’s exactly why we have sent graduates and a trainee program out to Singapore. We’ve got offices in Singapore and invite people back as well. And I think experiencing that culture and working in those different cultures is exactly what we want to achieve.

00:38:23:24 – 00:38:31:08
Philippa White
And what we have come to the end. But before we finish, is there anything else that you’d like to tell our listeners that I haven’t asked them?

00:38:31:17 – 00:38:56:16
Patrick Connolly
Well, I’ve been talking about the Academy lots, and it would be great for listeners to experience the Academy. Yeah. So when I first joined in 2008, it was very intensely focused and over lockdown. Elliott was very instrumental in pushing the Academy externally to connect with our clients and beyond. So it’s very easy to do during lockdown because everything was online.

00:38:56:16 – 00:39:22:16
Patrick Connolly
But since we’ve come back into the office, we run lots of our learning hybrid so people can attend online, attend in person. And I was talking about the fact we divide our academy a year down its terms. We produce a prospectus. We do exactly the same thing on the academy Web page as well. So if you go on to misconduct, come forward slash academy, we just go on to Michigan dot com and search for the academy.

00:39:22:16 – 00:39:41:03
Patrick Connolly
You can find the web page and there’s lots of learning that you can attend is legal updates. There are personal and tech learning. There’s blockchain lectures and sessions about prioritization. Also, the interesting speakers that we talked about before, so.

00:39:41:03 – 00:39:42:21
Philippa White
Many interesting figure.

00:39:43:12 – 00:39:54:23
Patrick Connolly
I feel like I’m just once name dropped now. But people like Elliot has interviewed Jodie Foster and Piers Morgan. We’ve interviewed people like Gareth Southgate and Monica Lewinsky and.

00:39:55:14 – 00:40:02:13
Elliot Moss
Stephen Fry, Cherie Blair, Hilary Mantel when she was alive, and even so. Juliet Stevenson Who else? Richard Grant.

00:40:02:18 – 00:40:24:08
Patrick Connolly
Even this year we’ve had Sajid Javid and Matt Hancock and Bret Easton Ellis and Richard Grant a few weeks ago. We’ve got the Women’s England rugby captain coming in and a few weeks in, two months time where we’ve got the historian David Olusoga and lots of we capture the recordings and you can watch the record. Yeah, you can also you can just log on and watch the zoom.

00:40:24:08 – 00:40:36:24
Patrick Connolly
And if you happen to be in London and want to experience the hope and office that you talked about, PHILIPPa, you can contact us and attend in person as well. I mean, it’s a great way to experience lots of things we’ve been talking about and see the learning in action.

00:40:37:05 – 00:40:40:13
Philippa White
What’s great, and I’ll include all of the links in the blurb for sure.

00:40:41:01 – 00:40:58:14
Elliot Moss
And then I have one thing. Yeah, I think one of the questions that you asked in advance of this incredibly organized podcast was, have we got any quotes? I hate questions, but I but, but I do realize I quite like a quote. There is a quote, Patrick, you’ll be surprised because I said, as no one goes out, I hate each other.

00:40:58:15 – 00:41:01:10
Philippa White
I’ve got I didn’t think we had time. So I’m very.

00:41:02:07 – 00:41:18:05
Elliot Moss
Quick, though. You’ve got it. Here it is. Here’s my quote and it is by John asked and stuff, but it’s misattributed to Kurt quite a lot. And this is the reason I like this is pretty obvious. The moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves to all sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred.

00:41:18:14 – 00:41:35:18
Elliot Moss
A whole stream of events, issues from the decision which no man or woman could have dreamed would have come his or her way. Whatever you can do or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now if ever the summed up Michigan I is that.

00:41:36:00 – 00:41:39:20
Philippa White
I wish you could see me. I’m covered in goose bumps. Wonderful way to end this.

00:41:39:20 – 00:41:45:13
Patrick Connolly
That you need applause at the idea. I had a quote prepared as well, but it was a much shorter one. It’s business, but it’s personal.

00:41:46:09 – 00:41:47:18
Elliot Moss
So Kirkpatrick’s perfect.

00:41:47:24 – 00:41:48:10
Philippa White
Example.

00:41:49:03 – 00:41:51:24
Elliot Moss
Is the brand guy. Now. Thank you so much for asking us to come on up.

00:41:52:07 – 00:41:55:08
Philippa White
Thank you. Elliot Intoxicated, an absolute pleasure. Thank you.

00:41:55:12 – 00:41:56:16
Patrick Connolly
Thank you. Thank you so much.

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