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i fought the law – darryl cooke on shaking up the legal industry

The legal industry may have managed to survive the major disruption that has changed the face of countless longstanding industries, but that does not mean it isn’t ripe for disruption. That’s the view of Darryl Cooke, founder of gunnercooke; a law firm which uses an innovative fees model and places huge importance on its community of lawyers, as well as its clients.

“You look back over the last ten years or so – since the financial crisis – just how many industries have changed,” says Darryl on the latest episode of Change Makers. “Uber has transformed the travel industry, Airbnb the holiday industry, Amazon initially the book industry and then the retail industry. Yet the law has kind of stood still, it’s been separated from all that.”

Industry trends were the spark that lit Darryl’s inspiration to launch gunnercooke in 2010 – along with business partner Sarah Goulbourne.

So, how has the sector managed to so avoid the disruption? Darryl says it comes down to billing: “The hourly rate has been around for over 100 years and hasn’t been challenged.

“A managing partner just wants his lawyers to do more hours, or to increase the hourly rate. That’s not sustainable.”

At gunnercooke, lawyers set their own hours, their own targets and earn what they can, rather than being held to an hourly rate. They must also have clocked a minimum of 10,000 hours experience in the profession before coming to the firm to work.

While their lawyers hold vast experience, gunnercooke’s business model is one that, according to Darryl, fits perfectly with the younger generation.

“The millennials coming through are looking for a lot more balance. I think this idea of giving your life to your job has changed.

“That’s why traditional roles are going to really struggle.”

Millennials want to see the businesses they interact with embodying a purpose beyond making profit. That’s why gunnercooke plays a central part in the community, helping charities professionalise to get better access to funding.

Asked by Michael why profits and purpose are increasingly being seen as equal priorities when it comes to a firm’s strategy, Darryl says it just makes good business sense. “Our lawyers want to be involved in it, our clients appreciate what we do, and we involve them in it.”

With the business growing at a rate of 100 per cent each year, the model appears to be working.

Watch Darryl’s ‘The Change Makers’ interview here

To find out more about gunnercooke click here

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