Welcome! I’m really, really excited today to introduce you to Egbe Manton. I guess we’ll start with who you are? What do you do? And what do you get up to?
Some very good questions. So who am I? Well, I am a corporate lawyer who works in consultancy for startups and small businesses.
You have a full-time job outside of that. What inspired you to start your own legal agency and how did it happen?
It was by accident, and I wasn’t planning it. A lot of people were reaching out to me saying that they couldn’t get good quality, legal guidance. They didn’t know what to do with all these clients that we’re terminating their contracts, and what we’re their legal positions. So I was giving out that kind of friendship guidance and advice to people. I was getting more and more enquiries, so one day I thought – there’s clearly a gap here, and people are needing this type of advice and support. So why not step into that gap?
How long have you been practising law? How did that journey begin?
I was one of those annoying children that just knew what they wanted to do. I didn’t look for law, it came looking for me. I think one of my earliest memories to do with law was of Stephen Lawrence and the Elephant and Castle inquiry. For me, that whole episode of Stephen Lawrence blew my mind. I would ask myself how can someone be at a bus stop, and then they just loose their life? Then the people that perpetrated that crime just continue to walk the streets? I couldn’t understand that.
That’s kind of what intrigued me about law, how sometimes it could be so right and yet, so wrong. So that’s why I fell into it, and then other key events that kept happening just reinforced to me that I needed to get involved and be part of changing the justice system.
What’s your favourite thing about working in law?
That it’s ever-changing. There’s never one correct answer. There are always six different answers, depending on how you look at it. It’s always changing, and I love that.
What keeps you practising?
When it comes to small businesses, boundaries are constantly being pushed. Owners then come to me and say, Okay, I need an agreement to show this. And I’m like, okay, let’s look into it. It makes me think because the procedures are different to my day to day.
In corporate law, you tend to know what is coming across your desk. It’s a lot of the same. But small business, the queries or requests really make me think, which in turn, makes me a better lawyer. It makes me push myself in terms of legal knowledge and skill. And that’s what I love about it.
What is something that your career is teaching you right now?
As an entrepreneur, I’ve got to say that anything is possible. So sometimes, when you’re in a corporate lifestyle, your career, your nine to five, there’s a hierarchy that’s meant to inspire you to climb the corporate ladder. But, with entrepreneurship, it’s just way more exciting because there’s no direct path, no straightforward journey.
There is no limit to your ability or thought. Beliefs are limitless and you are constantly learning on the job.
Did you always know what you were good at? Or has it been a process of understanding your skills and your strengths?
I think it’s been a bit of both. I have always been an extrovert and have always found it easy to be personable with people. I’m good at retaining information and getting down to the crux of a clients issue or query. I always enjoyed interacting with people and fighting for justice.
Seeing the bigger picture etc: Saying that, I know I have weaknesses. When it comes to the creative element of my business, I’m just not wired that way. I’ll try my best, but it won’t look as easy and as faultless. My slides aren’t pretty or my presentations aren’t 100% uniform. But I don’t mind, as the content is what I feel confident about.
Your business works with younger people who are carving out their careers. Talk us through what that decision was for you and what it looks like today.
When I graduated, I found it really hard to find work or get on the ladder. I’ve always had this thing that I don’t want other people to find it as hard as I did.
Sometimes law can be seen as elitist and only for a certain type of person. I really think that’s just a load of codswallop. If you’re switched on or you have a passion for it, it is possible to teach anyone the skills that they need to be able to be successful in that career.
I suppose when I started the consultancy, I wanted to be able to have that outlet for young people to be able to come aboard, get that good quality work experience and be able to use that on their CV so that they could approach other employers who could give them that formalised training that they need to become a solicitor, lawyer or barista.
21st-century law should be accessible and whatever I can do to get those people on board or make that journey easier, I’m going to do that.
I think sometimes it’s important in your career to have somebody that you can touch base with and knock ideas around. I remember in the early part of my career, I didn’t know I could be assertive in my opinions. I’d sit there and research something for hours and hours and hours, but would be too scared to go and tell my boss my opinion on the findings, or the case we were working on.
I wanted to make sure I had everything right. But the thing is, cases are not always right. Sometimes there are different interpretations and there are different points of view. But it was so important for me to get things right and make everything perfect, that I’d lose that human element. One day, he sat me down and said, look, it’s not about being perfect, you need to just be more assertive. Have an opinion and tell me that opinion. Then we can debate it. I didn’t realise I could do that. I thought I just had to listen to my boss and that was it.
It’s important to be able to step up and say, actually, I think there’s a different way of looking at this. I needed to be more assertive, and as soon as I was – things just changed, massively. There’s no way I would have opened up a business if I didn’t have those skills that he helped me to learn and to develop.
What are the things that you wish you knew at the beginning, that you know now that you’d love to share?
Put yourself forward, know that your opinions are valued and people will listen to you. If I knew that my opinions were valued, I probably would have put them forward a lot earlier. Also don’t stress about the fact that you’re not where your peers are. Some people’s journeys take longer than others.
The last thing is that you have a gift. Everyone has a gift, it just looks slightly different in each person. It’s important not to try and compare yourself to other people because you’re made differently. Your USP is different and that’s a good thing.
I would love for you to share with our listeners how they can connect with you and find out more about how you practice law?
You can find me on Instagram and via my website – www.mantonlegal.co.uk/egbemanton.