Bringing with her a wealth of experience within the region’s business community, Kirsty Simmonds has joined DFA Law as a Partner to head up the Corporate and Commercial Department as the Northampton firm looks to grow its expertise in that area.
Focusing on areas of business such as buying and selling companies, putting in place shareholder agreements and other commercial agreements, helping employers incentivise employees and attract talent by implementing share schemes and advising on restructuring as the needs of a business change, Kirsty can advise businesses on every stage of its journey, from incorporation through to exit. Corporate and commercial law is very much a collaboration between a company and its legal advisors.
Kirsty, who took up her new position in January, has previously held positions with a number of local law firms, and is excited about building a team that will be able to reach out to more businesses across Northamptonshire.
“Corporate law has been part of DFA Law for some time, but we’ve really shifted the focus now and one of the things that attracted me to this new position was the ability to come in and really make my mark,” said Kirsty. “We’re currently recruiting into the department to support me and from there, we’ll see the team grow further as the workload increases.
“We’re already aware of the need for corporate legal advice among our existing clients, and once we’ve identified and addressed their needs we’ll be building on that and looking to attract new clients to the practice.”
Fundamentally, the Corporate and Commercial Team will be working with owner-managed businesses who are buying and selling companies. This covers businesses who are looking to expand or grow through acquisitions; or shareholders who are looking to exit their businesses when they are getting close to retirement, or when they think they have taken the venture as far they are able and they want to move on to new opportunities.
Kirsty always looks to adopt a personal approach, providing a service where she and her team get to know their clients, understand what their business needs are and what plans they have for the future.
“One thing that appeals to me about corporate law is that it isn’t an area where picking up the phone to a lawyer fills you with dread,” she explained. “It’s very often a positive process, working with clients who are looking for solutions that will build on what they have already achieved.
“I like to start working with a business when they are reasonably small and then help them for the whole length of the journey, which mirrors DFA’s philosophy; a law firm for life. I see my role as more of an advisor, a sounding board for business owners who are amazing at what they do but sometimes need guidance when it comes to the legal and practical side of running and growing a business. They might need assistance with acquisitions or finding investment opportunities when they’re looking to grow, or about succession planning and exit strategies. A different point of view is always a good thing to have.
“Acquisitions are often seen as positive by the business owner, but have they thought about how they communicate the changes to their teams? People get understandably nervous when the companies they work for are being bought or sold, and need reassurance. Communication is key and there are things, share schemes for instance, that can help retain talent and that can make all the difference to the success of the venture – a successful acquisition, and then losing your best people to a competitor because they are feeling uncertain, is the last thing you want, particularly in the current recruitment climate.”
Once a working relationship is in place, DFA Law aims to build on that to make it a long-term arrangement, remaining on hand as a trusted advisor for all the client’s business needs, be it assistance from the Property or Litigation Teams in addition to working with the Corporate and Commercial Team, as well as meeting their personal needs via the Family Law and Private Client Teams.
“Completion of a deal doesn’t mean the end of our working relationship. I stay in touch once the deal is done,” said Kirsty. “That might be notifying them of any legal change that may affect their industry, or finding other ways to help add value. By building a good relationship, clients are not hesitant about picking up the phone to ask for my advice, even if it’s simply someone to say ‘yes that sounds like a good idea’, or not, as the case may be. Having someone you trust makes all the difference.”
Danny Roberts, Practice Manager at DFA Law said:
“I am really pleased to have Kirsty join us. Kirsty’s experience and knowledge of the local area is exactly what we were looking for and, with what we have already seen since Kirsty joined, I am really looking forward to us working closely together for many years to come.”
Kirsty added: “It’s very exciting to be part of this growth at DFA Law and I’m looking forward to working with new and existing clients in my new role.”
Contact Kirsty Simmonds, Partner and Head of the Corporate and Commercial team at DFA Law on 01604 609560 or visit www.dfalaw.co.uk