A firm of criminal lawyers faced up to cuts in the legal system by moving to The Deep Business Centre and increasing its investment in technology and flexibility.
The plan by Amber Solicitors to safeguard its future is driven by the vision of a virtual office with the potential to expand. That in turn means taking a different approach in a profession famed for shelves full of leather-bound legal volumes.
“We are moving towards a paperless office,” said Richard Fowler, one of the solicitors who set up Amber in 2008.
“The Deep has the technology to enable us to do that. The future of criminal law is one of more cuts and less money in the pot and we have to adapt to that.”
Richard, fellow solicitors Ian Phillip and Emma Appleton and practice clerk Lisa Nesbitt completed the move from High Street to The Deep as part of a programme of expansion in spite of the continuing cuts.
Richard said: “From the start we didn’t know whether the business would survive so we moved into premises that were affordable, but more recently we were looking for a better deal.
“At first we thought The Deep was too detached from the city centre but it’s actually ideal, with the footbridge leading straight into the Old Town and the courts.
“The cuts to the legal system are getting rid of a lot of people who do a good job but we have a good reputation at magistrates and crown court and we get a lot of referrals including some high profile cases, so we do expect to increase our team in the future.”
Facilities at The Deep allow the round-the-clock access which is essential for the team, with more space and administrative support available as required.
Richard said: “Criminal law doesn’t have Bank Holidays off so we are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our business model is to do our own letters and other paperwork so we don’t have secretarial or reception facilities, but the team at The Deep can help with that if necessary.
“There are rooms here which we can use to meet clients but we don’t have to pay for them every day. We also see other people, which is nice. It’s a good mix, not just criminals and criminal lawyers.”
Freya Cross, Business and Corporate Manager at The Deep, said: “Amber Solicitors are typical of quite a few of our tenants who have moved into The Deep at a time when their businesses are affected by change and face an uncertain future.
“Amber have taken one unit because that is all they need at the moment, but they know they are in an environment which supports growth and where, as that expansion continues, they can build their team and their business.”