In Conversation with Abigail Bird

Written by Joanna Ralphs - 13.01.21

After a challenging year all round, the Legacy team at Laurus have undergone a number of big changes. Partner and Head of Legacy Abigail Bird tells us how she’s found ways to grow as a business leader during the pandemic, and how she’s been maintaining their business development practices despite working life moving almost completely online.

Our conversation with Abi is the first in a series introducing the personalities and insights of our lawyers. 

Like most things this past year, our first In Conversation is a little unconventional – but, in a format that is no longer unfamiliar to most of us, Abi and I call into a Teams video conference and settle in for a chat.

Congratulations on becoming a Partner! It’s been a difficult time to run a business and such an unusual time to become a Partner – how have you and the team found the transition back to remote working?

It’s definitely been a very difficult transition for many businesses, and I’ve taken on a whole different style of management. I’m very much the type of person to sit down with my team regularly to have a coffee and an in-depth chat – and doing that remotely has been a big change.

It has been challenging, especially as my team are very close. I know them so well, that I can tell right away if they’re stressed, or I’ll be right there in the room if they’ve had a phone call. I’ve tried to maintain these types of interactions over Zoom – every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we have a team call, and we also have one-to-ones every week so they can raise any concerns with me. So, challenging – but I’ve definitely developed as a person.

You’ve been leading the team through some big changes as well as the pandemic – tell us about some of the new work you guys have taken on recently.

As well as the pandemic and transitioning to remote working,  the Legacy team have had a complete transformation – but a really positive one. We’ve restructured the team so Amandeep and Nicole can concentrate on our probate practice, and Tara has come over to assist me and Reha with sourcing our private work as well as building and growing the Legacy department.

It was challenging to change our business development practices – meeting up with our referrers over Zoom rather than in person, but it’s working well. Another way we’ve changed our BD during the pandemic is to start offering our services to the other departments’ contacts – assessing whether they or their family members would benefit from our services.

That sounds like a great way to make sure our clients have all of their needs looked after?

Definitely! Our mission at Laurus is to make every client feel like a VIP and giving them preferential access to all of our services is part of that. The departments we have – Property, Family, Legacy – are all extremely stressful periods in someone’s life, and we want to guide them through it.

I think it’s evident from the reviews we get that we give a good service – we get a lot of clients who end up using all three departments because we have a set up that is genuinely of use to them. Laurus is a great firm to work for in the sense that we’re not numbers driven, we’re first and foremost focused on the client, so we can all feel comfortable introducing them to other departments.

I imagine some of the work you do has quite an emotional impact on you as well as your clients – do you have any advice on managing stress for people in similar situations? How do you motivate the team at times like that?

It’s the regular contact, even if its via Zoom, it’s engaging with everyone, making sure they’re seeing familiar faces. And having different conversations that aren’t all work focussed too – on Mondays we do something we call ‘news of the week’, where everyone comes with a news story or a development in law. We focused on getting cheerful ones in, on the lead up to Christmas!

I’m also involved in Laurus’ welfare committee, where we’re brainstorming how we can improve everyone’s wellbeing throughout the firm, because its important now more than ever to focus on mental health. I’m excited to see what comes from that.

Was there ever a defining moment for you that made you feel like private client was the work you wanted to do?

That’s a huge question! For me it was the personal connection you build in private client which drew me to the practice area. When I did my training contract, Legacy was the area I was least looking forward to – it’s got a stereotype that its not interesting – but when I actually did the seat, I realised that it’s so personal. I had one particular client who was an elderly lady, and I realised while building that relationship how meaningful my work was to her. She would show me photo albums from when she was a young dancer and actor, and it was so rewarding for me to have such a positive impact by writing her Will – she told me it was a weight off her shoulders.

You can read more about Abi’s work and credentials here. Abi and the team continue to operate at full capacity, and can carry out all of their services following strict social distancing guidelines. If you would like to speak to Abi and the team, please get in touch on the number below.

Speak to a lawyer — You can reach our Legacy team on  020 3146 6312 or abigail.bird@lauruslaw.co.uk