Hugh Strickland, corporate finance partner at Aaron & Partners LLP discusses the importance of selecting a good lawyer for your business and the pertinent challenges that scale-up companies face.
What are the details of the law firm, when was it founded and what is its vision?
Aaron & Partners LLP was founded in the late 1980s and the firm’s vision has always been to provide bespoke legal services to businesses, and to those who own and invest in them. The business has grown significantly over the years and the firm now has three offices – one in Chester, one in Shrewsbury and one in Manchester – with around 130 members of staff.
We are a top 200, independently recommended law firm providing specialist legal advice to our clients across a range of sectors, including finance and banking, professional practices, warehousing and logistics, transport, pharmacy, licensing, academies, planning, energy, renewables, minerals & mining, waste management and agriculture.
Our key areas of advice include company and commercial law, dispute resolution and insolvency, commercial property law, employment law, regulatory, planning and environmental law, as well as matrimonial and wills, trusts and tax work.
What is the importance of good legal advice for scale-up companies, and any interesting industry patterns that scale-ups should be aware of when seeking advice.
Fast growth companies have a number of particular challenges – funding is probably one of the biggest and the need to manage cash-flow efficiently and effectively is absolutely paramount. But in the pursuit of continued growth, it can become easy for a business to focus too much on winning more clients or customers at the expense of establishing strong legal foundations to build from.
Things like shareholder agreements, tight control on ownership of intellectual property and tax issues are all critically important to ongoing business success and investing time in setting these up properly is an investment in the future of the business.
What is the history of the firm’s advisory work on high-profile deals in the growth business industry and how does its services set it apart?
A significant number of our clients at Aaron & Partners are on a high-growth trajectory and many of the firm’s lawyers specialise in supporting fast-growing SMEs. Clients include the like of the Business Growth Fund and other venture funds and equity investors involved in investing into numerous businesses. Aaron & Partners also acts for businesses receiving equity investment and have dealt with Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) investments for businesses all over the UK and across a variety of industries.
What sets our firm apart from others is the depth of experience and expertise across the teams, and the firm’s partner-led service, which ensures the desired outcome is achieved for our clients. We also aim to add as much value as possible throughout the relationship and it’s very common for us to be able to provide people with more than one legal solution. For example, many of the clients working with our corporate and commercial team will go on to seek advice from the experts within our wills, trusts and tax team.
What is the standout transaction for the firm in recent months and how did it apply its expertise to contribute to a successful deal?
A great example of a successful scale-up business we have supported is Rockford IT – a Telford-based IT and security firm. The business was recently bought by one of the UK’s fastest growing managed IT services and cloud hosting providers, SysGroup (an AIM listed plc), for a fee of almost £4 million.
Aaron & Partners had supported Rockford IT for a period of time before the company’s rapid growth, which accelerated quickly towards the point of sale. The key to the success of the transaction was a strong and clear partnership between the client and the advisory team – which consisted of Aaron & Partners and the accountancy firm Dyke Yaxley. With any large transaction, collaboration and communication is essential and this was definitely the case with this sale.
What are the key pieces of advice you would give to an ambitious, scale-up entrepreneur who seeks legal services for fundraising, flotations, or other transactions, and may not be familiar with the process.
The best piece of advice we could give without doubt is to be honest and open about your ambitions – both short-term and long-term – and to engage your legal team as early as possible in the process. If you already have a trusted legal team then that’s fantastic, but if not it’s really important to establish a strong relationship with your lawyer and make sure you understand their experience and how it can benefit you.
Whatever it is that you want legal expertise on, your lawyers should be able to talk you through the process – exactly what is needed and when – and you should have every confidence in them to secure the right outcome for you and your business.
In an ideal world you would have set up everything from the start of the business and all of the right legal frameworks will be in place. But we appreciate it’s not always that straightforward because most entrepreneurs are totally committed and focused on the business and making it a success – particularly in the early days.
Taking an à la carte approach to cover off the most important legal elements is vital to long-term business success, so we’d always advise a business owner to spend the time getting these right. Treat the relationship with your legal team as a long term partnership as in my experience, businesses that do are often the ones that go on to achieve great success.
Find out more: Aaron & Partners LLP