Our Lawyer in the Spotlight blogs are an opportunity to showcase the fantastic lawyers in our Legal Network and the incredible work they do for our clients, every day.
John Cook is an experienced corporate transactions lawyer, a thought-leader in the industry from his base in Newcastle, and one of Lexoo’s top performing lawyers.
He is the Regional Managing Partner and heads up the Corporate and Commercial Services team at Butterworth Solicitors, where he puts his 20+ years of experience gained at DLA Piper, Walker Morris and Dickinson Dees into practice.
The firm’s approach is down to earth and flexible, which John fully lives up to, being praised by clients for his professionalism, responsiveness and patience. He has advised clients on 200+ successful engagements through Lexoo.
1. What’s the best thing about being part of Lexoo’s legal network?
Being part of a network of highly experienced and talented lawyers is a win-win. From a personal perspective I’ve been able to work with clients that probably wouldn’t have considered working with me if I wasn’t on the Lexoo panel. I’d hope my clients would say that they’ve received excellent service but delivered to them in a way that’s a lot different to city firms. There’s a lot of knowledge and talent outside of the traditional city firm environment and Lexoo is a fantastic way for clients to access that talent.
2. What type of work do you do for clients from Lexoo?
Mostly transactional corporate work. It’s an even mix between business sales and purchases, reorganisations and corporate finance work. I do have a lot of property experience and I think this helps because I can offer a “one stop shop” approach to business purchases rather than having to have two lead fee earners on a deal.
I’m heavily involved in running my own business which gives me a good perspective of real world issues. I understand the internal pressures of limited resources and I think clients can relate to that.
3. What’s your legal background and how does it help you do what you do now?
I actually started life in a traditional firm environment – doing everything that came through the door. I could see at the time that the legal industry was changing althoughI thought that everything of any value would be done through bigger firms and the high street based service would disappear completely. I took myself off to Leeds and I worked at large law firms on large scale projects ranging from high volume remortgage to bespoke finance projects to due diligence on large scale acquisitions. It taught me a lot about how to organise processes.
I think having worked literally at opposite ends of the spectrum I’ve got something different to offer. I understand how corporates work and what they need but I also understand that accountability from a trusted source is equally as key. I think my background drives a more practical and, dare I say it, down to earth approach that clients appreciate. I’ve seen deals where it almost looks like the client’s advisors have forgotten what the client wanted to achieve in the first place and I hope I’m never guilty of that.
4. What are the challenging and most rewarding aspects of your day-to-day work?
The most rewarding thing is getting a deal over the line for my clients. I never tire of it. Hopefully my clients see that I’m completely immersed in what’s happening so when we get over the line the buzz is amazing – whatever the size of the deal.
I don’t really look at any business challenges in a negative way – usually there are some learnings there.
5. What’s the best thing about being responsible for your own practice?
The biggest positive is the ability to give more time to clients. I’m not tied up in lengthy internal management meetings. My regular internal meetings take up less than three hours a week which means the rest of my week is spent serving clients. Large firms need governance and in fairness it is necessary because of their structures and reporting requirements. My metrics are much simpler – I need to deliver first-class service to great clients that is compliant and profitable. Nothing else is important and that’s very liberating.
6. How does being part of the Lexoo network enable you to do so?
I think clients can see there’s a real difference in the Lexoo proposition and recognise that there is great talent that exists outside of the traditional large firm environment. Being part of the team gives me a head start because clients see me in that way too – then I have to deliver of course!
7. How would you describe your firm’s culture?
We have a merit based culture and don’t stand on ceremony. Compliance is key for any legal firm but the rest will take care of itself if you set some simple basic rules. I am very open with my team about what we need to achieve and how it links to what we do every day.
8. What makes your firm different?
Our core principles are based around being straight talking and hard working. We set out to be easy to deal with. Lots of firms say that but not all deliver it day in and day out. Knowledge is an essential but from a client’s perspective that’s a given. We focus on how to deliver what our clients need every day.
9. What do you hope the next 5 years will bring in the legal profession?
I think there’s still a lot of polarisation to come in the market. I see a lot of medium sized firms struggling and I don’t personally believe that the traditional high street based model will last unless those firms adapt.
Technology will advance and I think that’s a great thing. I don’t particularly worry about what larger firms might develop because ultimately if something has legs there’ll be software in the market that does that job and I’m really excited by that. The more technology enhances basic tasks the more time we have to deliver strategic advice and really look at what makes deals tick and I certainly welcome that.
If you’d be interested in working with John, you can reach out directly here.