Hodge Jones & Allen has become the first firm to embrace a ‘John Lewis’ employee ownership model

updated on 03 December 2018

London-based civil liberties, human rights and legal aid firm Hodge Jones & Allen (HJA) has become the first law firm to be entirely owned by its employees.

The firm’s equity partners, including founding senior partner and majority owner, Patrick Allen, have agreed to sell the business to an employee ownership trust (EOT), like the employee-ownership model made famous by the retailer John Lewis. As Legal Futures reports, Allen is looking to take a less active role in running the firm, having been a key figure since it was founded in 1977.

Other law firms have set up employees with minority stakes in the business before, but HJA is alone in being solely owned by its employees. Despite the rarity of employee ownership, figures from the Employee Ownership Association show that the model outperforms others in terms of profitability and productivity.

Allen, who will continue as HJA’s senior partner, said: “Becoming employee owned reflects the people-first entrepreneurial spirit that has been the backbone of HJA since 1977. It provides continuity for our partners and staff, and therefore our clients. It is the perfect model for a firm like ours. I wanted to ensure that the firm could continue to grow in the same way as I intended when I founded it over 40 years ago.

“We have a fantastic team and we help people who may not always be able to access advice and redress. I see this as a way in which my vision can go forward and thrive into the future.”

Vidisha Joshi, HJA’s managing partner, added: “Under Patrick’s stewardship, the company has grown from a small practice on Camden High Street in London, to the firm it is today, helping clients nationwide access a diverse range of legal specialists and leaders in their field. Creating the EOT was the best way of ensuring Patrick’s legacy and of safeguarding the firm whilst making sure that the ethos and values remain intact.”

Deb Oxley, chief executive of the Employee Ownership Association, said: “This is a pioneering move in the legal sector, at a time when many similar partnerships are challenged by the succession dilemma of securing the future of an LLP-structured firm.”