As the founder of Truth Legal, perhaps I would say – wouldn’t I?- that Truth Legal are ethical solicitors. But I believe it. Certainly, we are far from perfect. We have a long way to go, much to improve upon and, when we get there, we will need to keep evolving in order to maintain our ethics, just as society changes.
I firmly hold the view that a business ought to have a moral purpose. I believe that a purpose-driven business, in our case – a law firm – will be more successful if it has a North Star. My experience from the last seven years is just that. And we have grown from one person to 18.
At Truth Legal, we have three missions, which are (and will soon evolve):
- To be the best personal injury and employment law firm in the country.
- To provide access to justice.
- To provide our staff and consultants with work-life balance.
Here are my musings on the question of our ethics.
- Free legal advice
Over the last seven years we have provided thousands of hours of free legal advice. We have given this free legal advice in person, over the telephone and by email. In addition, we have made our website a repository of free legal advice. On some days we receive 1,400 visitors to our website, most of whom are soaking up the free advice and free legal documents. If you were to ask me – what am I most proud about? – then I would have to say the amount of free advice that we have distributed.
- We offer No Win, No Fee agreements
The press might give No Win, No Fee agreements a hard time, but the press is frequently wrong. In my experience, No Win, No Fee agreements allow people of modest financial resources to bring claims. My view is – what is the point in living in a democracy, voting for political parties, if the rights that are enshrined into law cannot be enforced because you cannot afford legal representation? Over the last nine years Legal Aid has been nearly destroyed. On top of this, legal advice centre funding has dried-up. It is therefore essential that as many lawyers as possible offer No Win, No Fee agreements. And we have offered No Win, No Fee agreements for cases that are not guaranteed paying cases for us, because we have felt strongly about an issue – whether that be protestors who have unlawfully arrested to people who have been assaulted at work.
- We have represented hundreds of migrant workers
Over the last seven years we have represented hundreds of migrant workers who have been often appallingly treated at work and had nowhere else to go for free legal advice. We have a dedicated Polish language website – https://www.tl-prawnik.co.uk/ – which again as vast amounts of free advice, blogs and videos which explain, in Polish, how the English and Welsh legal system operates and how to go about enforcing your legal rights. This work is not regarded as profitable, but it is important work and we are proud to have done it and we are committed to continue offering it. Sometimes up to 20 people per day have received free legal advice in Polish, often provided by Mirek and Magda.
Although I wouldn’t say that we are the largest backers of charities, but over the years we have supported, with donations: RoadPeace, Victim Support, Harrogate Citizen’s Advice, and in 2019 we are sponsoring Harrogate Pride.
- Students and work experience
As a teenager, I was lucky to have had work experience at a law firm and a barrister’s chambers, which nudged me to consider a legal career. I want to pay it forwards. We have therefore been committed to providing work experience to people of all ages who want to see what it is like to be a lawyer. We also run a paid law content writing scheme which helps would-be young lawyers the chance to interact with a law firm (which can go on their CVs), get paid, and sample whether they like a particular area of law.
- Low profit margin
Some entrepreneurs must think that I am crazy, but we operate on a low profit margin. Our most recent statistics show that we have a 5% profit margin whereas the norm for our sector is over 30%. For me, this shows that profit isn’t our main motive; that we pay our colleagues fairly and that we charge appropriately.
- Supporting two new trade unions
Over the years we supported the fledgling trade union – The United Voice of the World – which has now gone from strength to strength. More recently, we have formed a relationship with the relatively new Psychotherapists and Counselling Union . It has been our pleasure and our privilege to help these important trade unions to support their members.
- The Harrogate Podcast
As the host of the Harrogate Podcast, I have showcased local charities, events and businesses, putting us in the heart of the Harrogate community. I have met some truly inspirational people. If you get the chance and can only listen to one podcast, listen to my podcast with the one-of-a-kind, heart of gold, Janet MacDougall of Woodfield Dog Rescue and Albert, her rescue dog from Romania, whose eight siblings all froze to death. Listening to Janet and meeting Albert left me with a tear in my eye. It was great to be able to showcase their important work.
- We have signed hundreds of documents for free or minimal cost
Over the years myself and my lawyers have signed documents such as passport applications, wills and all sorts of legal forms which require a solicitor’s verification. Although it is standard practice to charge, I have never charged for signing such documents.
But we need to keep updating our commitments. If you think that there is more that we could do to be better, please let me know.
From one of the UK’s most read legal blogs.