Martin Bloom has been providing businesses across the region with in depth advice in all areas of Employment Law for 40 years. As Martin celebrates his 40th anniversary with Hegarty Solicitors we ask him about his career and what has changed in the time he has been practising.
What was the legal profession like when you started practising?
I joined Hegarty Solicitors in 1979, I qualified two years later and became a partner in 1983. When I joined Hegarty Solicitors we had one office in Peterborough with 6 members of staff and each solicitor covered a variety of different areas of law. Now with 3 offices; Peterborough, Stamford and Oakham and over 100 members of staff it is a very different environment to when I first started. Each solicitor now specialises in a specific area of law, which means that clients are represented by solicitors who are experts in their field.
What is the biggest change you have seen in the last 40 years?
Technology has had a huge impact on the way we work in the past 40 years. Communication is now faster than ever; I have seen the progression from using post and phone as the sole means of communication and then telex and the fax machine, to now text messaging, email, mobile apps and video calling. We have also moved from relying solely on paper files to systems that allow information to be stored electronically.
Regulations and law have also seen a number of changes during this time and in particular in employment law, employees now have more rights and are savvier than ever before and employers have more responsibilities to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees.
Another major change in the legal market is that until 1986 legal firms were not allowed to advertise. Since the Law Society of England and Wales first permitted lawyers to advertise in 1986 the legal market has changed dramatically, with advertising increasing competition and making legal services more accessible and visible to clients. Hegarty Solicitors’ embraced this change and the first brochure Hegarty Solicitors published when advertising became permitted was recognised in the Solicitors Journal Awards.
How have clients changed over this time?
Clients’ expectations have changed dramatically in the past 40 years. Expectations of the level and speed of service are higher now due to technology allowing instantaneous communication. This is a reflection of society in general with the rise of social media, the internet and instant messaging. Clients now also have access to greater levels of information via the internet meaning they are much more knowledgeable about their situation and the services they require. It is also easier to find the relevant legal services via online search and clients can easily compare solicitor services and read online reviews to make decisions about the solicitor they choose to use.
We have evolved to meet these changing expectations by communicating with clients via email and regularly using video calling such as skype to contact our clients instead of face to face meetings where clients are short on time and unable to visit the office. We have also evolved our website to make it accessible from mobile devices and to feature calculators to help clients gauge how much their case will cost for services such as conveyancing and corporate contracts. We also offer an online wills service and a number of online guides so clients have access to the information they need.
Our employment law practice and corporate teams have also expanded to serve not only local businesses clients but also large national corporations and the ease of communication via email has helped facilitate this.
What are your most memorable achievements?
In 1995 I was appointed as an Employment Tribunal Judge and I continue to sit in the South East region at the Cambridge Employment Tribunal. I am also a member of the Industrial Law Society and Employment Lawyers Association and a published author on Bullying and Stress in the Workplace.
Over the years I have enjoyed (and continue to enjoy!) delivering business seminars and courses, including national conferences offering advice and talking about the developments in employment.