Taking care of business

November 8, 2020

With a hat trick of glowing endorsements from independent reviews just in, managing partner Jason Wainwright reflects on client feedback, COVID-19 and prioritising mental and physical wellbeing at Muckle LLP.


North East commercial law firm Muckle LLP, has just received a flurry of independent ratings and feedback hailing the quality of its service.

The UK’s leading legal directories found the firm to be industry leading in a host of legal services, after comparing law firms in the region based on independent research and thousands of client interviews.

Muckle improved or maintained its rankings in almost every area assessed by both Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners, which published their findings last month. The firm also has more recommended lawyers, singled out as specialists in their field, than ever before.

The news followed results of another independent survey, this time commissioned by Muckle, which scored its service at over 9/10 on average, based on 100 client responses.

Jason Wainwright, Muckle managing partner, says: “We are here to help so it is especially pleasing to know that our work is making a difference and we’re delighted with these results.

“We’re also immensely grateful to our clients and contacts for all their kind comments, which have been a welcome boost, particularly to our people’s confidence and mental wellbeing. We have continued to push our service agenda during the pandemic and this has clearly paid dividends.”

Across all three surveys, clients praised the firm’s ‘open, honest and transparent’ approach. Others described Muckle as ‘forward-thinking’ and ‘business- minded’.

The results reflect the law firm’s resilience to the challenges of COVID-19, thanks largely to its agile technology and culture, unusual within the sector. Yet, despite having the capability to work from any location, the pandemic has presented other challenges.

“Overnight, we went from giving clients tours of our newly refurbished offices in Newcastle city centre, to servicing their needs from home.

But that was the easy part,” says Jason.

“We knew we could support clients just as well and efficiently by working remotely, because of the significant time and money we had already invested in making Muckle as agile as possible.

“It has been a four-year transition, delivered in consultation with our people throughout. The last leg of our journey completed late in 2019 when we unveiled our agile office refit. Through this, we have done away with fixed desks and ‘office rules’ and reinforced the established notion that our people are free to be themselves and work from wherever it suits them and their clients best, in and out of the office.

“That’s not typical of most law firms. It’s a very traditional profession and we were lucky to have delivered our IT and cultural transformation by the time COVID-19 developed. We were well prepared and even better equipped, but we were far from certain about what the future held.

“What about the economy? What about work levels? What about business development? We were relying on the strength of client and contact relationships, our ability to respond to client needs quickly and the willingness of our people to pull together.

“So far, that’s worked very well and we’ve continued to adapt our approach, tailoring it to suit the kind of support businesses need at the moment. That’s borne out in our latest messaging – ‘#LetsDoBusiness’.

Jason continues: “Working with a lot of new clients, as well as our existing loyal client base, we’ve seen so many resilient and innovative businesses that have adapted so well, particularly in the North East, and we’re always 100 per cent focused on finding a way to do business.

“It might mean being more creative, proactive or reactive, but we’re comfortable with that. It’s what we are good at.

“What is now becoming more of a focus is our people’s mental wellbeing. We’ve gone from working remotely occasionally, to working from home constantly. And just when we had begun returning to the office on a limited basis, government guidance has changed and we’re all back to working from home.

“Again, our service hasn’t been affected, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow, particularly for those of us who thrive on interaction. The quirky little Zoom post-work drinks and quizzes were novel and popular, but they don’t compare to the sense of bonhomie and camaraderie you get from physically meeting someone face-to-face.

“We’re fortunate to have a very supportive culture at Muckle. Our mental health wellbeing team, made up of people in the firm who’ve been trained to support others’ mental health needs, work hard to make themselves available for frequent one-to-one check- ins. We’re also putting senior managers through the training, myself included, so we can be more useful whenever our people need support.

“It really goes back to us adapting and continuing to be the best version of ourselves, come what may.

“The pandemic may evolve. Government advice may change. Restrictions may tighten. But we will continue to be here, helping North East businesses to do business as we’ve always done. It’s our passion – our purpose. It’s what we do best and our people have risen to the challenge.”

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