25th anniversary

Johnson Winter & Slattery was founded in 1993 by a small, eclectic team of lawyers. At the time we appreciated commercial clients would develop long-lasting relationships with the firm if they knew our lawyers were technically strong, commercial and able to deliver legal services in a pragmatic way.

We were driven to build client relationships by providing superior service and value for money. If we could do that we would have a rewarding and successful firm. So, the focus was on clients and what we could do for them, rather than on internal financial targets or structure. Also the last thing we were interested in was replicating the approach of other law firms; we were acutely aware nothing would be gained by being like everyone else. We were a 1993 version of what would now be regarded as a “start-up” in today’s parlance.

With those principles in mind, and notwithstanding a weak economy at the time, we set about building the firm by winning engagements and impressing clients. We knew our service aspirations would be difficult to realise if senior lawyers sat atop a pyramid of other practitioners, making them remote from clients. So, although the term leverage wasn’t in vogue back then we intuitively structured our teams with experienced lawyers. We believed in recruiting and developing graduates and junior associates but we were never going to build a highly leveraged practice – nor did we chase work suited to such a model.

We had ambition and a fair dose of nerve. We chased work. We bit off more than we could chew and always found a way to impress our clients and deliver value.

We had ambition and a fair dose of nerve. We chased work. We bit off more than we could chew and always found a way to impress our clients and deliver value.

We worked together. We helped one another. We celebrated success and dusted off disappointments. The term collaboration was not bandied about, nor did we spend a lot of time encouraging people to behave in a collegiate manner. Rather, collegiate behaviour occurred naturally. Indeed from the first day of operation we projected the strength of our team under the name of the firm – not individuals. Not surprisingly, we weren’t afraid to work hard. We were hungry for success, had an entrepreneurial spirit and used our nous. Everyone committed and delivered because “sorry, I’m too busy” wasn’t in our vocabulary. We were proactive in identifying and pursuing opportunities and if we didn’t know something we found the answer.

Of course our ambition and success meant some things had to change over time. Indeed, we’ve been developing and transforming almost continuously since 1993 – save for those things we’ve been careful to preserve. These are the Hallmarks of the firm which are held dear by the partnership as a whole. The Hallmarks of the firm which were with us at the start continue to underpin the way we work today. These elements are lived in the day-to-day activities of everyone in the firm and include impress the client; look after one another; take the long term view and only do things that make good business sense.

Pleasingly, the collective impact of our Hallmarks is recognised by our clients and the market through the company we keep, the calibre of our work, independent industry recognition and direct client feedback.

 

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Peter Slattery

Managing Partner