From painting a B P Collins garage door to becoming its latest senior partner, Insight charts the rise of Simon Deans.
Exciting changes are afoot at B P Collins. From May 2017, Simon Deans will become its new senior partner following Chris Hardy’s decision to step down from the role. Alex Zachary, corporate and commercial partner, will replace Simon as practice group leader. All will continue to provide client advice - a role they are keen to retain.
There are many strands to being a senior partner. Externally, Simon will assume an ambassadorial role for the firm in order to raise awareness of its expertise and specialisms amongst businesses and the local community. Internally it involves building the consensus needed to bring about positive change and helping the management team to achieve its goals.
Simon explains the type of senior partner he aims to be:
"I am keen to make myself available across the whole firm - to listen to partners and staff and discuss the issues they are passionate about. In the increasingly pressurised environment in which the firm operates, we have to constantly challenge ourselves to do things better and to behave consistently in a way that demonstrates our integrity, commitment, friendliness and teamwork, which is at the core of what B P Collins is all about."
He has had a long connection to the firm which has helped to prepare him for the role:
"My mother was a teacher and my father a political journalist, but being a typical independent teenager in the 1980s, I wanted to do something completely different. So at 16, I wrote to 15 law firms in Buckinghamshire asking for work experience. B P Collins was the only one to take me on and through my A Levels to the end of my degree, I kept coming back during the holidays to gain more experience across a range of different practice areas and trying to be helpful when the firm was consolidating its many offices and moving from being a typical high street generalist practice into the specialised legal advisory business it is today. The team must have admired my persistence - and painting skills - as the firm took me on as a trainee solicitor after graduating from The University of Birmingham."
Having left the firm for two years around the turn of the century, Simon returned in 2002, becoming a partner in 2005 and heading up the corporate and commercial practice group from 2008.
"I’ve seen life at B P Collins through many different roles. The firm has invested in me over a long period and with a lot of strategic experience under my belt having been on the board since 2009, it’s now the right time to step up and help to steer the firm through its next chapter."
Despite the challenging economic and political landscape, Simon believes that the role of senior partner alongside the management team, will help the firm to adapt and grow:
"No one really knows what Brexit will deliver for the UK just yet and the pound is fluctuating, helping some of our clients and hindering others. We are also very aware of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead with Artificial Intelligence in the legal sector.
"Ultimately ours is a people business and it depends on us building and maintaining strong relationships with our clients and business partners. However, we are battling against increasing compliance and administrative burdens and since I specialise in the technology sector, I want to ensure that B P Collins embraces new technology to enhance our communications with our clients and to enable our staff to spend more of their time with their clients providing the great advice we are known for.
"But it doesn’t stop there. Clients don’t simply expect an exemplary knowledge of legislation from their lawyer. Corporate clients need to know that their lawyers have commercial acumen and understand their business inside out.
"Or from an individual or family perspective, our clients need to know that we can help them make the changes they want in their life and can protect their wealth.
"A seamless service for clients is also important. Internally, I think we can improve our team work and interaction to ensure that clients receive all the advice they require in a consistent manner."
Despite a busy few months ahead, Simon remains committed to advising clients directly so he doesn’t lose touch with what they need and the marketplace they operate in, although he will have to reduce the amount of hands-on document drafting and processing he’s previously dealt with.
"I am very lucky to be part of such a strong and well-regarded team who will enable me to perform my new role."
"I will also retain my role as a Heart of Bucks trustee – a charity I support passionately. Having grown up in Buckinghamshire and lived here for most of my life, it’s a great county to live in, but there are people who need assistance and this is a tangible way of giving something back."
After three years as senior partner and 34 years in the firm, Chris Hardy has left an indelible impression on the firm which Simon acknowledges:
"Our firm is a great place to work and and Chris has been instrumental in achieving this. Calm under pressure and personable with not one ounce of self-importance – I wish him every success in his new role as a consultant for the firm and look forward to him passing the baton to me."
Even though Simon will be leading the next stage of B P Collins’ race to the top, he feels he has a ‘strong team’, who will work together to grow the firm and meet B P Collins’ clients ever-changing needs.