Each year, the Employee Ownership Association (EOA) helps to raise awareness around the benefits of being an employee-owned business by dedicating a full day online for businesses to get involved and showcase why they are proud to be an employee ownership trust.

This year’s ‘EO Day’ takes place on Friday 23rd June and the theme is #TheEOeffect.

We thought this would be a great opportunity to interview some of our Directors about Ison Harrison’s move to being a 100% employee-owned law firm and find out how the last 12 months have been going!

Jonathan Wearing, Managing Director:

jonathan wearing - ison harrison solicitors


“Whilst nothing has changed everything has changed.

Our clients, processes and working days are just as they were before the change, but I sense that the vibe around the place is different.  There is a sense of certainty about the future of the firm, an expectation of further growth and shared energy that wasn’t there before.  I think that there are three aspects which have contributed to this.

Firstly, the introduction of 5 new Directors has brought a heightened level drive, ambition and expectation across the firm.

Secondly, I feel that people may feel more able to get involved and influence the direction of travel of their careers or the business in general.

Thirdly the profit distribution at the end of last year clearly had an impact beyond the fact that everyone received a chunky bonus.  The EOB became real at that point, with people feeling respected grateful and together.  We could all join in with the firm’s success in a way that we hadn’t before.

From a personal perspective I feel less pressure but more responsibility.  Less pressure because there are now so many around the firm helping to push the business forward; more responsibility because there are now 250 shareholders who have a financial interest in how we perform.”

James Thompson, Director & Head of Clinical Negligence:

James Thompson

“We go from strength to strength with unity.

We are different to most firms and becoming an EOT puts our money where our mouth is. Sharing profits whilst getting salaries right means we all get recognised properly for what we contribute and everyone gets to enjoy our success.

We wear our EOT badge with pride and take our responsibilities as individuals, teams and the firm as a whole seriously. We also celebrate and enjoy each other’s successes authentically. If one department is smashing it, we all benefit. It inspires and makes us lift our game.

So far so excellent, but there is more to come. This is only the first page of the new chapter.”

Gareth Naylor, Director & Head of Personal Injury & Inquests:

“Our morale and team ethic has always been one to admire at Ison Harrison.  However, since becoming an EOB I have witnessed a surge in energy and enthusiasm from my colleagues.  There is an excitement as to where we could take our business.  Staff are motivated and keen to add value to the business where they can and come up with new ideas.

We are proud to be part of the Yorkshire Law firm, we work hard and look after one another.  It comes as no surprise that our profile continues to rocket in the right direction.”

Sarah Laughey, Director & Head of Family Law:

“Ison Harrison’s move to Employee Ownership has been a really positive development for the law firm.  It has helped bring staff together with the common purpose of driving the firm forwards.  It’s great to see staff engage in growth projects as well as greater efficiency measures.

‘Join In. Influence. Benefit.’ is a tag-line which we encourage our staff to live by.

I feel privileged to act in the roles of Director and Trustee for such a progressive business.  I am confident that, together, we will achieve future success which everyone can share within.  Our clients and the quality of our service delivery has always been at the heart of the business, but becoming an employee-owned business, concentrates the minds of 250 employee owners to this central purpose.  It means that being a client of an EO business really should be a noticeably distinct and beneficial experience.”

Richard Coulthard, Director & Head of Corporate:

“Being an employee-owned business has been very beneficial for recruitment around the firm.

The feedback from candidates is that being an EOT is hugely attractive but it gives a positive impression regarding the culture of the business and the importance of the employees within the business. The financial benefit of the profit distribution is also a positive factor for candidates but the bigger attraction for candidates is the cultural benefits of being an EOT. Indeed, we have actually had Partner level applications almost entirely off the back of being employee owned.

Within the commercial team, being an employee-owned business has significantly assisted in the scope of our advice work on succession planning, particularly for business owners who are considering employee ownership themselves. We are able to add real value to the business owner’s decision-making process because we can advise on both the legal and the practical aspects of becoming an EOT, whilst drawing on our first-hand experience of operating an EOT. Being able to discuss our personal experience has been a real added benefit for our clients.”

After nearly a year and a half of being a 100% employee-owned business, we are proud to say that #TheEOeffect for Ison Harrison has been positive for everyone in our firm.

We will be celebrating EO Day on 23rd June with a staff event, hosted at The Lock in Leeds.

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