Paul Saunders is the new Managing Director of Legal Eye, which offers risk management and compliance services to solicitors, licensed conveyancers and lenders. In March 2015, it was bought by ULS Technology. Jane Common caught up with Paul at the Conveyancing Association’s recent conference, a month into his new role, to ask about his plans to take the company forward.
What made the job at Legal Eye an attractive proposition and an interesting challenge for you Paul?
“I’m used to running businesses and growing them, so joining Legal Eye, where I can foresee massive potential and opportunity, is very exciting. What fascinates me is not just delivering regulatory and compliance advice to lawyers for its own sake, but also helping our customers develop their businesses in a compliant way that is going to increase their profits. That’s where outsourcing is really beneficial – because, within the SRA code, a solicitor is required, to put it simply, to do his or her best. And by outsourcing that goes a long way to fulfilling those obligations. They can put their hands up and say: ‘I outsourced this to a professional, reputable risk management business and that’s why I am confident our compliance is being done properly.’”
And what makes you the right man for the job?
“I’ve been in the industry since 1989, so for nearly 27 years and in that time I’ve been a Managing Partner, CEO, a Head of Residential, Head of Volume Products – I’ve worked in lots of different aspects of conveyancing and law and I’ve run legal IT businesses as well. But the commonality between all my roles was that compliance was always initially viewed as a hindrance to the smooth running of the business – and it was my job to change that mindset. So in every role I’ve had I tried to reverse that and say: ‘Let’s use compliance for the benefit of the business.’ I made sure we reached a stage where we were using it as a business management tool, so almost ignoring the fact it was the regulatory bit – it just became second nature and one of the structures we ran our business along.
“On top of that, through running large conveyancing departments, I’ve been in the shoes of lots of Legal Eye’s customers. In those roles I knew what I needed from our partners on compliance – and I knew when I wasn’t getting it. So that gives me a unique perspective and empathy with our clients and their requirements.”
How have your first few weeks been?
“Brilliant – I’ve been going out and speaking to our customers to make sure they’re happy we’re supporting them. I will be spending time talking to potential clients too, to tell them about where the business is going. Legal Eye is a fantastic business and it’s done amazingly well since Jaunita launched it seven years ago, but the whole point of it being owned by a PLC is the new investment potential, so our plan is to grow and make the service we deliver to our customers even better. We have quite an aggressive growth plan and we intend to achieve that through the implementation of a new corporate structure and recruiting even more talented people. We’re also going to bring more clarity to our existing products and launch some new ones as well. At the end of the day, it’s all about delivering added value to our customers – that’s our priority and, through that, we’ll achieve the growth we are looking for, while sticking to the ethos Jaunita gifted her company seven years ago – it’s always been a personal service and that will continue, but you will see a lot more of us in the press and leading the market in compliance, risk and due diligence.
Can you put a number on your growth plans?
“Our primary objective is to grow the business five times over the next five years. It’s ambitious but I’m confident that it’s achievable as well and I’m looking forward to it.”
For more information about Legal Eye and its products and services, log on to www.legal-eye.co.uk. The team will be attending the Modern Law Event in March and they also have a seminar that month as well as a Legal Eye conference in June.