After 20 years as a partner at Freshfields, he is now CEO and one of the three co-founders of Top 3 Legal. Top 3 Legal is an online platform that is redefining how businesses find external lawyers to work with and how they manage ongoing relationships, informed by knowledge and trust. It enables businesses to create and manage their own private #T3LTeamSheet of lawyers and law firms using a simple and collaborative interface so they can quickly and simply find the right lawyer. The Team Sheet provides a constantly updating, trusted network of endorsed lawyers and offers live and immediate access to their contact details and profiles and relationship law firms’ own suggested contacts by work type and location. Users also see what others in their organisation say about their experience of a particular lawyer.
OPL: What made you want to become a lawyer?
Gareth: My father had his own business, he was keen for me to have a stable career and learn a profession, that’s what initially got me into the law. I always wanted to run my own business.
OPL: Why did you decide to change course to start Top 3 Legal?
Gareth: I loved doing deals at Freshfields, but I always knew that I wanted to leave by the time I was 50. Towards the end of my career at Freshfields I was involved in setting up the firm’s legal services centre and spent quite a bit of time in Manchester where I met Richard Fleetwood again (Top 3 Legal co-founder) who asked if I wanted to take on Legal 500 and Chambers, it seemed like an interesting challenge and that’s where the story began.
OPL: How is Top 3 Legal different from some of the other companies out there?
Gareth: Our Team Sheet is the key differentiating feature – it enables clients to keep – and share with each other around the world – a record of which lawyers they are working with where and on what. The whole system is kept very up to date and is in my opinion more independent, objective and modern than other offerings out there.
OPL: How do you interact with clients?
Gareth: Full-service interaction from client on boarding through to demoing the product to in house teams and law firms.
OPL: What can lawyers expect to achieve as a result of working with you?
Gareth: For an individual lawyer it is great for profile raising and helping to establish their personal brand. For law firms, it helps them win a greater share of their clients’ legal work and to expand the depth of their overall client relationships.
For clients it helps control legal spend and manage external resource effectively.
OPL: Are there any particular areas within your business that receive the most attention from clients?
Gareth: Singapore has been a busy area for us. This is because the Asian market moves so quickly and is very fluid and competitive. Singapore is a hub for work throughout the region.
OPL: Do you work with legal counsel from all different industries?
Gareth: The product covers all major industries.
OPL: What types of challenges do you anticipate facing as a business over the next few months?
Gareth: How to scale up effectively. What we want is for global roll out of the product with major clients working with us internationally.
OPL: What has been a highlight for you since starting the business?
Gareth: The very first invoice sent out was satisfying as proof of concept and that this is really a business not just an idea.
OPL: What is the most rewarding thing about your role?
Gareth: The challenge of creating something from scratch and watching it grow.
OPL: What advice would you give to a young lawyer starting out in their career?
Gareth: It is your career, own it. Don’t expect others to manage your career for you. Make sure you are engaging with the technology side of things from an early age (LinkedIn and other legal tech are the future).
OPL: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Gareth: My biggest passion is football although my team – Huddersfield Town – is having an absolutely awful time at the moment! Cycling is also a passion of mine, but because of injury I have been a bit restricted of late. Spending time with my family, our new puppy and playing golf when I get the chance are also things I really enjoy.