Sponsor spotlight: Irwin Mitchell Read how one of the largest law firms in the UK works with digital and tech companies in Sheffield. Established in 1912, Irwin Mitchell is now one of the largest law firms in the UK, with over 300 partners and employing nearly 2,500 people in 14 offices around the country. Jo Chan-Shaw is a business development manager based in Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield office. Jo comes from a digital industry background and is keen to get to know the local community better. We asked her a few questions about the company and their work in the digital sector. Why did you want to become an associate sponsor of Sheffield Digital? Working with Sheffield Digital collaboratively felt like a natural fit to aspects of what we do in the tech sector nationally, which is to support digital businesses and connect them with the right people to help their business grow and reach their full potential. We seem to have a common goal in promoting digital businesses and, with our head office based in Sheffield, we were keen to be associated. How do you help Sheffield’s digital businesses? We already sponsor events such as legup.social – the digital community helping small businesses, charities and social enterprises with digital by mentoring. Where possible, we can also offer our boardroom space for events at no cost to support local initiatives. On the business side, a couple of the digital specialists in our commercial team are based in Sheffield and we have others available across the business as needed. What challenges do digital companies face in particular? From a legal point of view, intellectual property is always important, as are all the basics of things like contracts and terms of service. For startups and small companies, we try to provide more of a mentor and support service. We understand that it’s expensive to come to a law firm and we want to make sure that people get a good mix of advice and then the right services that they need, when they need them. It’s also important to look after the person as well as the business. If you own your own business, you need to know how to protect yourself and how to get the right people on board to help you. As you grow, you need to make sure that your processes are growing with you. Technology these days enables to reach all corners of the world. We deal with a lot of companies internationally but also have ‘best friend’ networks, which really add value for our client should they wish to trade outside of UK. What’s the one thing all business owners should get in place? Good advisors and plans in place that look after both business and personal matters. How do you work with people who are freelance or self-employed? Generally we do less with freelancers, but we do try and support smaller companies and self-employed people by hosting and sponsoring events in the tech community that help people to build networks. What plans do you have for working with Sheffield’s digital companies? We want to do a lot more to support local events, such as getting involved in hackathons. We are open to working collaboratively with other firms that have the same vision to support digital companies. And we want to be able to keep people informed about what we do around digital/tech/media and entertainment space. Education is also a hot topic for us and we are interested in exploring ways that we can support activity in that area. What do you think the future is like for business in Sheffield? Very exciting. With the recent news about the new digital incubator at Castle House, we hope this will encourage more startups in this sector. It will also be interesting to see more tech talent coming to Sheffield. Find out more You can learn more about Irwin Mitchell and what they offer the digital and tech sector over on their website. We’re delighted to have them on board as a sponsor and really pleased to have their support.