Legal Awards 2021

Acquisition International - Legal Awards 2021 21 Company: SMQ Legal Services LLP Contact: Suezanne King Email: Website: Rising Criminal Law Firm of the Year 2021 - UK ocated in the heart of Oxford, SMQ Legal Services LLP has many years of experience and always acts in the client’s best interests, working flexibly and providing a high standard of client care. It has staff members who will provide free 20-minute appointments, and including evenings and on weekends. SMQ know that life often gets in the way and makes seeing a lawyer between the hours of 9am and 5pm impossible, so the option to speak to a lawyer out of hours is important. Suezanne often speaks to clients after clients have put their children to bed. Michelle is the financial brains; she is an accountancy lecturer and has a neuropharmacology PhD, among other qualifications. Suezanne trained as a lawyer in London, after completing her degree. She also worked in Maastricht, Netherlands assisting on international cases. She has now moved away from the firm’s criminal law team to head up its civil team and is involved in personal injury group litigation work. Suezanne and Michelle make a good pair because they both have different strengths which complement each other. Michelle deals with the accounts, financial issues, and pushes to get the team digitised and using spreadsheets. Suezanne oversees the legal provisions of the business and has just one speed: full ahead – whereas Michelle is calm and more measured, so the mix works well for the business because they meet in the middle and always appreciate each other’s perspectives. Attracting the right people to join their team has been very important and Suezanne and Michelle invest the time training the junior staff to become the best lawyers they can be. They are truly passionate about what they do and have been fortunate to grow the team over the past 18 months. L Suezanne King and Dr Michelle Qume wanted to start a legal company based on client care and to run a business in a way that delivers exceptional standards of service; thus SMQ Legal Services LLP was born to provide an array of services covering all aspects of criminal law and family law, whether private or legal aid. It offers conditional ‘no win, no fee’ agreements for certain areas of law including data breach claims, medical negligence, and personal injury. Sep21589 The firm has expanded rapidly over the past two years, including the purchase of other firms to join the SMQ family, and offering additional legal services. It is an interesting time in providing legal services. Many firms have had to adapt to strange working practices. Suezanne recalls first stepping into the magistrates’ court wearing her visor, mask, and purple gloves (black ones were out of stock) when the pandemic first hit and having everyone look at her like an alien from out of space, but it really has been important to ensure the firm’s lawyers remain safe. SMQ, under Michelle’s scientific guidance, provided its lawyers with gloves, masks, gels, ensuring they were as safe as possible. Meanwhile, the pandemic had the silver lining of enabling SMQ to use remote conferencing to have more meetings with clients. It is no longer perceived as unprofessional to have such meetings. Remote meetings with clients in prison have been beneficial with pre-booked weekly meetings arranged so the client knows they will see their lawyer every week at a set time and date. As a firm, SMQ was already pretty IT-savvy and it was using Teams for work practice prior to the pandemic. It has increased using IT now for case management and has found a system that works well across all aspects of the company. Indeed, it is easy to see what makes SMQ so deserving of Acquisition International’s AI Legal Awards 2021. Suezanne said, “We are proud to win this award and be recognised for how hard we have worked. We recently had our criminal Legal Aid Audit and were told we have grown in our development by 68% in 2021 already. We want to thank the team for their hard work and look forward to our future.” So, what does the future hold for SMQ? Suezanne said, “Growth and developing the SMQ brand. We have some exciting projects in the works and cannot wait to unveil them as they come to fruition. We are looking forward to offer new areas of law as well, as the seeing the SMQ family expand.” Michelle continued, “SMQ Financial will launch soon, headed up by FCA approved financial planning experts, to offer advice and assist on an array of planning options to protect our clients’ future and especially think about provision for retirement. We have seen the elderly left vulnerable during the pandemic and we are looking forward to being able to visit with people and provide them with options to find financial security for their future.”