Hefin Archer-Williams, Senior Principal in Legal Services at Slater Gordon Lawyers, has over 20 years’ experience in the law industry. He talks to Business News Wales about his career history, innovations in the Welsh market and the links between higher education and business.
Can you give our readers a little background into yourself and your role within (Organisation)?
I am the senior principal lawyer in business legal services at Slater and Gordon Lawyers, Cardiff and have over 20 years’ experience in dealing with a wide range of contentious litigation matters especially commercial disputes, insolvency and sports law.
What are your plans for the next five years?
Slater and Gordon has grown significantly since coming to the UK in 2012. This has included the acquisition of a number of legacy firms such as Russell Jones and Walker and, more recently, Leo Abse and Cohen in Cardiff. We are continuing to plan for growth and importantly the move to our new offices in Dumfries Place evidences our intention not only to expand in Cardiff but to look at further offices in both east and west Wales.
Looking back at your career, are there things you would have done differently?
Not really. Whilst there have been both ups and downs, life has a way of balancing matters and you can’t keep looking backwards.
What do you think are the most important qualities for success in business?
Having a passion for whatever you do. Without that, obstacles become insurmountable and people can give up. With it, you can persevere and achieve far more than you aimed for.
What are your top three tips for success?
Continue to educate yourself, listen and work hard.
Are there any innovations within your sector that you believe should be adopted by the wider Welsh market?
Technology is and will continue to provide ways for lawyers to engage in a more commercial and timely way with our clients; in so doing accessibility will become increasingly important. Keeping up with technological advancements, whilst maintaining and growing relationships will be the way forward not only in the legal sector but in business generally. However, the legal sector must ensure that whilst growing the use of technology and striving to reduce costs to clients, the personal attention and care isn’t diluted. The competitive nature of the legal market coupled with the strong regulatory control placed upon lawyers, means that solicitors do endeavour to ensure that their clients are satisfied.
Do you foresee any issues that Welsh business will be facing in the short/medium/long term?
Brexit. How will our Welsh Government and the Government in Westminster ensure that those businesses that are currently supported by the European Community continue to be supported and new industries are encouraged to grow? Will any reduction in inward migration affect Welsh business’ ability to recruit staff?
As the Welsh Government is starting to gain tax raising powers will these powers increase? If they do will Welsh businesses be taxed at a higher rate than our English competitors and will this affect our ability to compete?
Do you have any predictions in regards to the impact of Brexit on your sector?
The challenges and uncertainties of change will inevitably provide work to commercial and business lawyers.
What do you think Wales’ strengths and weaknesses are as a place to do business?
Its size is in my view a strength as whilst there are the invariable geographical problems, nowhere in Wales is too far away. The considerable investments which are currently underway in places such as Swansea and the much talked about new road and rail links, will greatly assist.
What can Wales do to attract more inward investment?
Promote itself even more effectively so that it has a world brand. Look at providing tax incentives to new industries.
What skills should the education system be promoting to the next generation?
Ensuring that we have a technologically advanced and educated workforce which is able to meet the needs and demands of Welsh businesses.
How important is it for there to be a close relationship between business and higher education in Wales?
Very. If our businesses are to grow we need to ensure that the requirements of our Welsh businesses are filled by the next generation and beyond. Businesses and education need to work together to ensure this occurs.