Jonathan Newman | Brightstone Law
BLD Diamonds have the basics covered, nailing the day-to-day that’s a given, though not to underplay how hard that is to consistently achieve. But what sets Diamonds apart is they are always doing a bit extra, contributing to a bigger picture. That’s certainly the case with Jonathan Newman, senior partner, Brightstone Law.
“Jonathan isn’t just a member of the Association of Short Term Lenders executive committee,” says Alex Hammond, PR professional and director of the Mortgage Market Alliance, an industry lobby group, “he’s an incredibly proactive member and invests much of his time in generating new ideas and contributing to the association’s activities in promoting the interests of the bridging market”.
In the last year, Newman has worked very closely with ASTL CEO Vic Jannels to spearhead activity on behalf of the rest of the membership, writing a series of letters to HM Treasury and the FCA, and holding meetings with the Treasury, to discuss the impact of the enforcement moratorium on the short-term lending sector and the availability of finance for customers. “Jonathan’s contribution to the ASTL, and this activity in particular, goes well beyond simply meeting his obligations,” says Hammond, “it points to his genuine commitment to doing the right thing for the industry and its customers”.
In our fast fashion world, commitment, like spending 30 years practising law at the same firm, as Newman has, can seem anachronistic. As a student he came down to London for law school, intending to go back to Manchester, but ended up staying “because it was so much fun”. He started training with a firm at the forefront of Consumer Credit Act lending and non-conforming lending. “We didn’t know it at the time, but we were at the start of everything we know as normal today. It’s a horrible thought to think that nobody can have more experience in the industry than me!” says Newman, in a humblebrag we’ll let him off for.
The hard work has paid off. In the Hazelwoods/Lloyds Banking Group Financial Benchmarking Survey 2021 median practice fee income increased 1.6% – at Brightstone Law it was up 17.6% per equity partner. In fact, the practice outperformed its peers in all six key indices used to benchmark solicitors’ practices, giving both staff and clients peace of mind the firm will be around for the long term.
Innovation is part of the firm’s success, pushed forward by Newman. Brightstone recently delivered a free online conference called Lending After Lockdown to educate all lenders in the sector – both clients and non-clients – with creative and forward-thinking content about the considerations their businesses must address in order to operate safe, successful lending after the pandemic. For colleagues, during remote working Newman has taken an active role in organising monthly online events, and sending thoughtful gifts to keep everyone connected.
The firm has also launched a programme called Culture Club, which has its own independent budget to create an environment of greater pastoral care, promote equality and diversity and protect and promote the firm’s unique, and obviously successful, culture – which as everyone knows, eats strategy for breakfast. For example, everybody was given a plant to mark mental health awareness week and the firm celebrated National Receptionists Day with cakes, and appreciation – everyone was asked to identify a quality in Brightstone’s receptionist to let her know how much she was valued.
“The Culture Club programme is a way of investing in our culture but also investing in our people, offering development opportunities for individuals to take a leadership role in driving the firm forward and making a tangible difference,” says Newman. There it is again, the mentoring and futureproofing shared by so many of BLD’s Diamonds, setting them apart.