Declan Bradley is the Legal Director at Doyle Clayton Workplace Lawyers Firm, based in London. In an interview Declan tells us in his own words what his firm does. Put very simply, we deal with all legal and compliance matters relating to the workplace. We provide legal, compliance and Strategic HR Support to businesses nationwide.
What are your main priorities and goals in your role?
In my role as Legal Director, I am tasked with looking ahead to the big legal/compliance challenges which businesses face, such as GDPR, IR35, Brexit, and producing legal and practical solutions to assist.
That can include audit programmes and gap analysis reports to understand how the client is positioned to deal with the change, and providing strategic advice, suites of tailored documentation and tapping into our strong network of professional contacts to provide the required solutions.
I also head up our Startup team, having advised in that space for nearly a decade now.
What are your biggest challenges?
Probably convincing clients of the benefit of a proper look under the bonnet at their business to deal with seismic changes, as opposed to them downloading a template or scraping guidance from the internet. Difficult in today’s fast paced world, where the issues we’re helping with might be quite far down on a client’s to do list at any given time!
How has your business strategy been adapted in the context of the Covid-19 crisis?
Like most professional services businesses, we had to rapidly adopt firm-wide homeworking. Luckily, we had been investing heavily in our IT infrastructure these past few years, and so we were well placed to run with it. I think the extra productivity in many cases has been a revelation to senior management! Likely, more flexible approaches to working are here to stay.
Tell us something interesting about the business.
We are mainly owned by the employees! Last year, in 2019, the shareholders of Doyle Clayton setup and sold the majority stake to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT). That gave the firm a way to include employee participation in the ongoing management and any future sale of the business, without the upheaval of a third-party buyer taking over and making sweeping changes. There were also useful tax incentives for employees and sellers alike. It has been so successful, that we feel the need to spread the word and so now offer end-to-end EOT services to clients.
Tell us the about the biggest risk you have taken in business.
For me personally, and it is becoming more apparent as I get older and nieces and nephews are born back home in Derry, is that I have made my business base here in England and not back home. As an English qualified solicitor who has lived in England since I was 18, my professional life is all here, and it would be difficult to ever work from Derry on a long-term basis. That said, Covid has moved the dial on remote working, and Doyle Clayton is an accommodating employer, so it’s likely I’ll be spending a bit more time in future between England and Ireland “working from home”.
Tell us about the worst day you’ve had since you started in business.
Probably any of the many nights as a young lawyer in a large international firm, where I was still in the office at 3am working away like it was a normal state of affairs. I don’t know how I had the stamina!
How can IIBN members help your business?
If it’s not too cheesy to say, I like to think in terms of how I can help them. I usually find the rewards for oneself follow thereafter. For instance, I am already in work sharing relationships with IIBN members, where we each have specialisms that our clients need, and we trust the other to do a good job. So mainly I would say to IIBN members, please feel free to get in touch for a chat whatever your business to see how we might be able to help each other.
How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?
If you ask one of our many Business Immigration lawyers, I’m sure they’ll tell you they are feeling the effects already! They are inundated. Also, in general, clients with European reach are looking to understand how it affects them from a legal and compliance perspective and which we are helping them with. Whether that be, for example, assessing if they need an EU Data Representative post-Brexit under GDPR and finding solutions for that if so, through to our Regulatory lawyer helping financial services firms understand the changing regulatory framework in which they operate.
How do you define success and what drives you to succeed.
If a client or contact comes to me with an issue and they walk away with it resolved, instead of just a load more issues and head scratching to deal with, I’ll be happy with that. On what drives me to succeed, I suppose like anyone, I don’t really know. It’s likely a mix of things, even including some not so virtuous drivers like ego. But one overall constant that has been with me since I was young, is that where I grew up, people had to take to the streets to protest for the right to have opportunities and so I grew up being taught not to take them for granted.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?
Don’t be a [insert your choice of word here]
What have been your highlights in business over the past year?
It probably sounds mega boring, but I have helped clients consider improvements in how they approach, onboard and manage their off-payroll staff in preparation for the incoming IR35 reforms. So instead of being just a dry legal audit exercise, the projects have developed more into a consultancy piece, as part of which I was able to introduce my external contacts in the recruitment and accountancy spaces to our clients.
What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2020/21?
These times of change will bring lots of opportunities for growth in the legal sector. For me in particular, and I am already seeing the green shoots of this, as a Startup lawyer the vast changes and restructuring in workforces and remodeling of different industries, will likely mean more people going it alone and setting up in business for themselves. We saw the Startup scene really take off in Old Street after the 2008 recession and history may repeat itself. At Doyle Clayton, we have a Startup team well placed to get those new businesses going.