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Tamlyn Edmonds, founding partner of Edmonds Marshall McMahon, discusses her motivation for and experience of setting up a new firm. She shares her advice for readers thinking about taking the plunge too!
What made you set up your own your own firm?
I originally started my career at the criminal Bar but quickly realised it wasn’t the environment for me. I then joined the Government Legal Service (GLS) where I specialised in prosecuting serious fraud cases for the Department of Health. I lead the prosecution team for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. I loved the variety of the cases, the challenging work and amazing people. I had three small children at the time and the flexible working arrangements at the GLS allowed me to work 5 days in 4 which helped with juggling work and family life.
It was during my time at the GLS that I met my two co-founding partners of EMM, Andrew Marshall and Kate McMahon. The Government was cutting resources for specialist prosecution teams, and we could see that the prosecution of financial crime was no longer a priority. We came up with the idea of setting up a law firm together dedicated solely to private prosecutions. We wanted to offer victims of crime a service whereby they could obtain justice in the criminal courts without having to rely on the State. No such law firm existed at the time, so it was a huge risk as to whether it would take off. We took the plunge anyway and set up the firm in 2012. Since then we have grown from the three of us to almost 30, including an in-house investigation team. We are still the only law firm dedicated solely to this area of law.
What were the drivers that made you take the leap? Had you always wanted your own firm?
I liked the idea of working for myself without the bureaucracy of the civil service. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family with my parents having their own businesses, so I had very strong role models around me. My working environment at the time had become toxic and I felt disillusioned so I took the risk.
What were the biggest challenges for you when you set up Edmonds Marshall McMahon?
Starting something from scratch in an area of law that very few people knew anything about. We also had no clients to bring with us, so we had to start a law firm in an entirely new area with not one client. Building the business from scratch was incredibly challenging but very rewarding in the end. I will never forget the day we got our first instruction. It was such an amazing feeling.
It was also challenging financially as I was the family breadwinner and I quit a secure, well-paid job to start a firm with no money coming in initially. Most people thought we were completely insane, but my partners (Kate and Andrew) and I believed we could make the firm work. Despite the fact it was slightly scary at times, it’s been well worth it.
Top tips for people who want to set up their own firm – practical tips and advice.
The importance of networking and business development.
What makes your firm unique?
Remember that it’s brave to start something new and can be such an exciting journey.
Take time also to reflect on your achievements no matter how small and keep celebrating them. As your business takes off and grows it’s easy to forget to celebrate those moments of success, a new client or winning an award, but it’s really important to acknowledge those moments.