Devon Life Business & Professional meets Stones Solicitors COO Adrian Richards Home-Grown Talent
PUBLISHED: 14:23 21 March 2012 | UPDATED: 21:12 20 February 2013
They're an upbeat bunch at Stones – and looking at the man in charge it's not hard to see why
Devon Life Business & Professional meets Stones Solicitors COO Adrian Richards Home-GrownTalent
Theyre an upbeat bunch at Stones and looking at the man in charge its not hard to see why
Devon born and bred, Adrian Richards is not what you would expect of a Chief Operating Officer at one of Exeters biggest law businesses. Hes a qualified Solicitor, although he hasnt practised for almost 20 years. When recent legislation opened up the law to outside competition, he realised that most lawyers are not businessmen, and took on the challenge of making Stones just that a business, not a firm.As Chief Operating Officer he is charged with delivering a strategy for modernisation, which he believes is vital if the legal profession is to face the future and evolve as it must.Ten years ago if you wanted legal advice on any subject, you would need to go and see a Solicitor for that. Now however, you have other options available to you. Other organisations that you would not normally expect, such as the Co-op, are offering a range of legal services.What future is there for a traditional high street practice that has one Solicitor with a secretary? Youve got a lot of overheads and running a legal practice is not a cheap exercise. Competition was coming but I heard so many law firms saying it will be fine, because the new entrants wont offer the same kind of client service we do.That is not his attitude. Adrian is an innovator and has set about implementing a dynamic and can-do attitude at Stones. Central to that, he believes, is changing the age profile of the business and it looks like hes succeeding. He told me that last year alone Stones had over 120 applicants for just 3 trainee positions.There are a lot of Lawyers in this area all heading for retirement. I want a group of people who say I like this business, its dynamic. What I try to do is get the best out of the people Ive got. Im looking for a vibe, thats what were investing in, those individuals who really want to take us somewhere. Ive been looking really carefully at the trainees were bringing on board I dont want them to train and go, I want home-grown talent, I want them here.He is well placed for a role which contrasts the old and the new, in many ways he is a man of contradictions, and as for driving, its what he does best, at any speed. When hes not pushing forward change with his team at Stones he can be found charging around Brands Hatch in his beloved 1970s Merlin single seater (in British Racing Green of course). He also regularly attends historic motorsport events at Le Mans and sails quietly on the Dart, not always with care.I once had a near miss with Jonathan Dimbleby. He was very nice about it, we just werent looking where we were going.Adrian believes in both ends of the scale, and back on dry land is as passionate about nurturing new young lawyers as he is about his charity work for Age UK Devon.
Born in Paignton, educated at Paignton Community College and married to a Brixham girl, Adrian qualified at the College of Law in York, trained in Torbay and then spent over a decade commuting to and from the Home Counties. He may spend his summers in Antibes but hes never left Devon, choosing instead to stay where his roots are and keep a steady hand on the tiller of modernisation.