Richard Phillips is in the business of creating connections.
A partner with VWV, a UK firm with offices in London, Watford, Birmingham and Bristol, Richard focuses on mergers & acquisitions, corporate finance and banking law. He has also been an active member of Eurojuris for more than 20 years and the connections he has built in that time are what make the network a natural home for him.
“Taking part is all about building strong relationships, learning about new cultures, and sharing with others. In time and certainly not to be forced, that engagement will bring in clients, fee income and a trusted network to look after your own clients,” explains Richard.
“Any firm joining Eurojuris and imagining it is all about exchanging referrals through directory listings is missing the point,” he adds. “Thinking about my own law firm and how you engage with your local market, you do not sit waiting for work to come in, so you cannot expect work from a network unless you engage.”
Since attending his first event in Oslo, Richard has been to almost every Eurojuris meeting since, because, he says: “You only get out what you put in, so can’t drift in and out. If others see you time after time, they know you are serious and they get to know you personally, your expertise and the profile of your firm. Having resilience and a desire to keep returning helps build connections, just like any friendship or business relationship within one’s own country.”
The strength of those relationships has seen a major shipping case referred by a Norwegian Eurojuris member to Richard’s firm, securing a mention in the All England Law Reports. And it’s not just round the table that the connections come. One important North American client came through playing football with other Eurojuris members.
“Having met a particular lawyer on the pitch (both of us bruised through elbow use and slightly mistimed tackles on each other!), a listed company that was acquiring into the UK was referred to me, and we have acted for them ever since,” explains Richard. “It was also a great example of pan world cooperation, as we put together a team from several Eurojuris firms from across Europe and Australia to collect information and advise the client. By knowing the firms and lawyers personally, we knew which ones would fit and I also use my connections to ask for recommendations.”
As Eurojuris president Olivier Vibert comments: “Involvement with the network brings different rewards, many of which may be unexpected. Richard gives us a great example of how turning up and taking part builds trust and strong relationships, which creates the foundation for future referrals, even though they may not be the primary objective.
“The network provides a baseline for quality through the criteria for joining, but to identify the right person when we are looking to refer one of our valued clients, means a known contact will always be a first choice, over a directory listing.”
Cultural sharing is another important lynchpin for Richard. “It’s interesting to get different perspectives as we can be insular and this gives a wider view of life, whether exchanging the experience and impact of Brexit or seeing the bullet holes in the public buildings when visiting Budapest,” he says.
Richard’s professional network connections have developed into personal friendships as well. He has provided office space for another member who was accompanying their wife during a work placement in the UK, and he has even acted as guardian when a German member’s child won a place at an UK independent school for a year.
As well as being an active contributor and visitor across the Eurojuris calendar, Richard also sits on the board of LawNet, the UK’s national association within Eurojuris.
Have you made interesting connections through Eurojuris you would like to share with the network? Let us know.