Area of law: Residential Property
Number of lawyers in team: 37
Legal directory rankings: 9
Q&A with high-value residential property solicitor Johnny Drysdale, who joined in 2019
Why did you choose to become a consultant lawyer at Keystone Law?
I wanted more autonomy, choice and flexibility, and the consultancy model would enable me to grow a practice independently.
Why did you opt to join Keystone over becoming a partner at your firm?
I had considered pushing for partnership, but there were a number of factors as to why I chose not to. Firstly, the billable metric targets – I did not feel like they were a particularly good measure of performance and the value of my work was not necessarily being appreciated. It also felt like there was no interest from the partnership to promote from within as it would create competition, whereas Keystone offered a flatter structure, where I would essentially be selling myself.
Did you have an established book of business when you joined Keystone?
I had a small book of business when I joined, but it definitely wasn’t a fully established business. I needed to lean on the support of the marketing and business development team to push my practice and to grow it. I also needed to have the drive and ambition to network internally and externally to bring work in.
Do you refer and have much work referred to you?
I have referred about 20% of my work to other lawyers and I have about 40% referred to me. There is a strong internal network which has been built and nurtured to encourage collaboration between lawyers. Given the firm’s structure and the financial incentive to refer work, there are no politics or issues with collaborating with colleagues as you often find at other firms. This means you can really grow your business if you wish to tap into it. Keystone is a meritocracy and it’s fantastic.
How did you weigh up the pros and cons of joining the firm?
The only downside was that I was not bringing in enough business on my own at that time so initially could have seen a drop in earnings. However, that seemed a price worth paying and the risks were manageable. Even if it did not work out, I could always go back into private practice. The pros seemed to far outweigh this because of the opportunity to increase your earnings and grow your own practice.
If you are entrepreneurial and ambitious, Keystone is a place where you can flourish.
What has your experience been like with the support team at Keystone?
There is a great support function, particularly the marketing and business development team. They provide ongoing support from the moment you arrive and help you to grow your practice. This was particularly important for me as someone who did not have a large book of business and needed to grow that into something which was self-sustaining. The Keystone model has proven to be the perfect platform from which to do that.
What have you most enjoyed about life as a Keystone lawyer?
Life at Keystone is unlike any firm that I have been at. The culture is laid-back and relaxed. There is no tension, no hierarchy, nor is there any management or political issues. Each lawyer is focused on having pride in what they do, pushing their practice forward and helping other Keystone lawyers along the way.
One of the problems that associates find in the traditional practice is that they do not really feel like a lawyer, and I definitely went through that at times. At Keystone, for the first time in my career, I feel like a lawyer. I have got my own clients and my own business. It is just fantastic.
What advice would you give to other lawyers considering joining Keystone?
Just give it a go. Believe you can do it, because you can!
To watch a video interview with Johnny Drysdale, please click on the play button.