The Thames Valley is the UK’s fastest-growing region. It is no surprise then that despite the pandemic, the Thames Valley legal market remains exceptionally buoyant. Chadwick Nott South-East consultant Penny Heighway speaks to Commercial Partner Penny Rinta-Suksi, at Blake Morgan, which has offices in both Oxford and Reading.
You can read the interview in full here but below are snippets about the legal sector in the Thames Valley, Blake Morgan’s Commercial team, diversity and future trends.
The Thames Valley
The Thames Valley is an exciting and inspiring place to live and work. The tech sector in particular is huge, with science parks and the space economy vital to the region and the rest of the world. Oxford is right up there in terms of opportunities to work with leading businesses. The volume of start-ups coming out of Oxford University puts us second in the world, after Zurich. The future is being built here.
The Commercial team
Our Commercial team were ranked in Tier 1 in the prestigious Legal 500 Guide for 2022 and undertake a wide range of work. Infrastructure and health are two core focuses for the team. Clients include Inhealth Group, local authorities such as Reading Borough Council and Buckinghamshire County Council, Oxford University Innovation Limited, Reading University, Harwell Campus, UKAEA, Gigaclear, Astroscale Limited and Oxford Biomedica plc. We have also worked closely with the NHS on significant projects, including supporting it to meet the challenges raised by the pandemic during the last two years, as well as major public health challenges like the fight to eradicate Hepatitis C. We have such a wide variety of work and are able to turn our hand to many different sectors and client types in a supported environment – to include education, telecoms, energy, utilities and franchising. From day one, our lawyers (and trainees) are exposed to varied, high quality work and have a great deal of direct client contact. Learning and Development is very important to us as a firm, no matter how experienced we are as individuals, and we are given daily opportunities to learn on the job. We think that a gentle push outside of our comfort zone is healthy and it is something that we are known for across the firm.
We have been working to improve diversity and inclusion within our business, and are incredibly proud to have been included in the Inclusive Top 50 UK Employers List 2021/22 for the fifth year running. Our new Board was elected earlier this year, including our first female Chair, Kath Shimmin.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) has rightly come to the fore. We want to make our purpose clearer, which is a live project. Following the recent UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) and the UK Government’s commitment to combatting climate change, more businesses are putting sustainability front and centre of their operations, and the Blake Morgan environmental team is actively supporting clients on this. The ESG focus is also reflected within the firm, which is committed to being a sustainable and environmentally conscious business – a commitment which was recently boosted by being awarded the prestigious ISO 14001 Environmental Standard certification in August this year.