An Interview With Pallas’ Natasha Harrison
In an exclusive interview, Lawyer Monthly speaks with Pallas’ Founder and Managing Partner Natasha Harrison about the challenges of establishing a new law firm, the importance of sustainability in the legal sector, and her vision for Pallas across the next 3 – 5 years.
What were the greatest challenges you faced when founding Pallas? How did you overcome these challenges?
Setting up your own business from scratch is challenging, but if you have a very clear vision for what you want to achieve and a very clear strategy to execute – it can be done. One of the biggest challenges was to ensure that we had the right infrastructure and systems in place so that we could hit the ground running from launch with confidence. I now know more about technology and financial systems than I imagined possible!
It’s certainly not an easy undertaking but where I was particularly fortunate was that most of my team from Boies Schiller Flexner elected to come with me, as did all of our clients. When you have nearly everyone wanting to join you, that really helps drive your confidence in what you are doing and the ability to make the business a successful venture.
Do you feel that being a woman made the process harder?
There is no doubt that the legal world is still a challenging place for women to succeed, as shown by the limited number of women who are Managing Partners of major law firms. One of the major challenges is trying to achieve a sensible work-life balance and COVID provided a meaningful lesson to me in that regard. For the first time, I was able to have lunch and dinner with my children and I am now very strict about being back for supper as much as possible. I continue working in the evening thereafter, but that time is important to me. Therefore, at Pallas, I want to create an environment which recognises that people have real-life pressures and families or friends that they want to see. I don’t want people to miss out on a parents’ evening, for example, and have created a culture where quality of work is prioritised over facetime.
What excited you most about establishing your own firm?
Starting from scratch means that you’re not shackled to hundreds of years of practice and bureaucracy and that’s very invigorating and exciting. The founding of Pallas represents an opportunity to ‘rip up the rule book’ and challenge the status quo of what a modern law firm should be. I can set the culture and values for the firm and look at ways we can improve the client experience, for instance creating optionality around how they want to be charged.
Pallas is committed to an ambitious responsibility and sustainability strategy. In your opinion, why is it important that law firms establish genuine sustainability policies? And what can firms do to reduce their carbon footprint?
In my view it’s crucial, that’s why responsibility and sustainability are at the heart of everything Pallas does. All our staff have been involved in shaping our approach and what we want to achieve and stand for – and we’ve set some challenging targets for ourselves. We’ve pledged to achieve diversity parity, reflective of wider societal composition by 2025; pledged to increase our community support every year to 5% of our resources by 2025 and have pledged to be carbon neutral by the same year.
These are important drivers of our business and represent our culture and our values. They recognise that law firms have a wider responsibility to the community and world in which we work, which is why it is at the top of our agenda.
In order to reduce our carbon footprint, we are working closely with a consultancy to take meaningful steps, including in relation to travel, our premises and our day to day working practices.
What is your vision for Pallas across the next 3 – 5 years?
I’d like to think that we would have also successfully filled the gap in the market for a high-end litigation firm and that our clients recognise the improved client experience that they receive. My goal is to grow the firm in a strategic way, by blending organic growth with key lateral hires. We want to continue to develop the client base and take on important and complex cases – all whilst challenging the status quo and creating a very modern law firm.