Why esphr?

It’s our mission to help HR professionals transform their ER capabilities and drive commercial change within their organisations.

For years, HR teams have self-created service programmes to tackle mounting ER caseloads – typically via an HR helpline for generic, non-commercial and non-strategic day-to-day advice – an online portal of downloadable HR documents and a law firm to escalate complex queries to.

All this can lead to an expensive, fragmented and inefficient way of working.

Busy HR professionals required a solution that brought specialist employment law expertise and ER technology together, so they could spend less time firefighting operational HR headaches and more time prioritising projects to drive meaningful change.

Introducing esphr

Spotting a major market gap, we established esphr to help HR professionals position ER as a key strategic driver of positive transformation throughout their organisations.

A new-model employment law firm and ER technology business, we provide integrated support services including a dedicated legal advisory team, online HR resources, learning and development tools and access to market-leading ER case management software – all for a fixed annual subscription fee.

Today, we are one of the UK’s first Alternative Business Structure (ABS) employment law firms built around people, processes and technology and have assisted over 700 UK businesses.

The story so far...

From our humble beginnings as a one-person vision for the HR services market to launching an award-winning Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) approved law firm and rolling out revolutionary ER technology solutions, we hope you enjoy some of our many milestones along the way.

  1. May 2003

    ESP is founded in Albury, Surrey by Peter Byrne. Greatness ensues :-)

  2. September 2003

    Hardings Estate Agents in Windsor become our first customer, they are still with us today.

    We employ our first two staff. They are still with us today too!

  3. January 2004

    We get to 50 customers and know our new business model is finding some traction.

    We employ another 2 staff, making us a ‘monster’ company of 5 staff!

  4. April 2004

    We sign up our first very large corporate customer supporting an in-house HR team (1,000 staff). A big step and our target market is now long term defined! They are still with us today.

  5. September 2004

    First round of funding from Finance South East, following a presentation we did at Brighton University. Guy stops us in the car park; said he loved what we did and to call him. We did and he lent us £100k!

  6. January 2005

    We get to 100 customers and turnover is doubling year on year!

    We employ 2 more key staff. They are still with us today.

  7. January 2006

    We get to 200 customers and turnover is still growing at over 30% every year!

  8. January 2007

    We employ 2 more staff. They are still with us today.

    Second round of funding from Finance South East. Another £100k.

  9. January 2008

    We launch LiveHRDocs – a unique document creation; storage and auto-updating software solution.

  10. January 2009

    We get to 250 customers and turnover still growing at 30% a year!

    We employ more staff. They are still with us today.

  11. March 2010

    We breakthrough the £1m turnover barrier!

  12. May 2010

    We move into new offices in Woking, Surrey

    We employ more staff. We are needing our very own HR Manager soon!

  13. May 2011

    Our strategic partnership with Ward Hadaway Solicitors is established and the creation of an ‘ESP team of specialist employment legal advisors’ is born. They are still a key part of our business today.

  14. October 2011

    We launch bespoke HR administration/Information software services. ESP HR Information Services Ltd has arrived!

  15. December 2011

    We launch ESP Safeguard Ltd to offer specialist Employment Tribunal insurance cover to customers. We have our own General Underwriting Agency now. Our first FCA regulated company!

  16. September 2012

    We launch our unique 'call reporting' software – allowing ESP legal advisors and customers 'real time' information access on all advice matters/queries

  17. July 2013

    We employ our first in-house employment lawyer!

  18. October 2013

    All-inclusive trip to Marrakesh for the whole team – our 10 year anniversary present to ourselves!

  19. January 2014

    We employ our second legal advisor, a qualified solicitor with over 10 years’ experience.

  20. March 2014

    We set up ESP Law Ltd and start the process of being approved by the SRA as an ‘ABS Law Firm’.

  21. June 2014

    We sign up our single largest customer with 10,000 staff and 1,800 retail outlets across the UK!

  22. July 2014

    We make a major upgrade to our core online HR resources web portal. We now have something beginning to look and feel genuinely market leading! Our non-stop aim is to make this way beyond market leading!

  23. December 2014

    We head off on an all-inclusive trip to Tenerife for everyone. A reward for smashing our 2014 targets!

  24. March 2015

    We breakthrough the £1.5m turnover barrier and achieve over £1m of recurring annual subscription revenues.

  25. May 2015

    ESP Law is licensed and approved by the SRA!

  26. September 2015

    ESP Law starts trading.

  27. February 2016

    We employ our third legal advisor from DLA Piper – another qualified solicitor with over 10 years’ experience.

  28. March 2016

    We sign up more major brand names and we get asked to tender for one of the largest corporate mergers in the UK this year.

  29. May 2016

    The new esphr branding is revealed and our new website is launched!

  30. July 2016

    We employ another top-notch employment solicitor with over 7 years PQE.

  31. August 2016

    We make the shortlist of the prestigious Law Society Excellence Awards 2016 in the Excellence in Client Service category!

  32. September 2016

    We get asked to tender for an outsourced ER service for a 14,000 employee sized organisation in the UK!

  33. October 2016

    We welcome a big brand name health and beauty retail company as a new customer!

  34. March 2017

    We post our best ever set of financial results.

  35. April 2017

    We smash our new business targets and a team trip to Pennyhill Park Spa retreat is booked for June.

  36. May 2017

    We sign up Keepmoat Ltd – a £1.1bn turnover housebuilder – as another major new customer.

    We select Scriba PR as our first PR agency partner to help tell our story and spark more strategic ER conversation in our industry.

  37. June 2017

    We sign up a leading global food company as a key new customer.

    We run our first customer networking and training event. Over 80 attendees to our Mock Employment Tribunal event in London!

  38. July 2017

    We are shortlisted for ‘Employment Law Firm of the Year’ in the prestigious Personnel Today Awards.

    We are appointed employment law advisors to the Ladbrokes Coral merged businesses (25,000 employees).

  39. August 2017

    For the second year in a row we are shortlisted for the Law Society Excellence Awards in the category ‘Excellence in Client Service’.

  40. October 2017

    We are appointed employment law advisors to Greene King PLC (44,000 staff).

  41. December 2017

    We recruit Arwen Makin into our legal team – a highly experienced solicitor with 15 years PQE.

  42. March 2018

    We sign up another major ‘high-end’ premium clothes brand with 350 staff.

  43. April 2018

    We smash our year-end financial targets – turnover up by 50% and we achieve 110% of our top tiered target.

  44. May 2018

    We are appointed as group-wide advisors for a major FTSE 250 hospitality company.

  45. June 2018

    We sign up a 4,000 employee Financial Regulator and a well-known 1,000 employee Water Utilities company.

    We run a live disciplinary training event at BPP Law School in London for 50 existing customers.

  46. July 2018

    We sign up Randstad, the leading 1,300 employee-sized national recruitment firm.

    For the second year in a row, we’re shortlisted for ‘Employment Law Firm of the Year’ in the Personnel Today Awards.

  47. August 2018

    Continuing our fantastic award streak, for the third year in a row we’re shortlisted for the Law Society Excellence Awards’ ‘Excellence in Client Service’.

    We sign up a major publishing firm in London with 1,000 staff.

  48. September 2018

    We recruit Rafia Ahmad, a senior solicitor with 10 years PQE. Rafia was a senior employment solicitor for five years with Backhouse Jones, the UK’s number one national road transport law firm.

  49. October 2018

    We all fly out to an all-inclusive holiday in Tenerife as a reward for smashing our 2017/18 financial targets!

  50. December 2018

    In categories that sound like they made for us, we are shortlisted for TWO awards in ‘ABS of the Year’ and ‘Boutique Law Firm of the Year’.

  51. January 2019

    Another ‘monster’ customer win. An outsourced business with 27,500 staff... who would have believed this 10 years ago?

    We attend the Modern Law Awards ceremony in Manchester and find out we’re highly commended for the ‘Boutique Law Firm of the Year’ category. We’re getting closer!

  52. March 2019

    Another leading industry Regulator signed up. This one focussed in the IT industry sector.

    LNER, the 3,500 employee rail operator comes on board!

  53. April 2019

    Another record-breaking year-end performance! Turnover up by 18% and we achieve 130% of our top tiered target.

  54. May 2019

    We attend the Legal Week Innovation Awards in the beautiful Landmark Hotel in London and scoop the Future of Legal Services Innovation (ABC) award! ESP Law is now an award-winning law firm.

    A leading International Charity with 11,000 staff across 37 countries joins the ESP family.

  55. June 2019

    We start working with a new marketing automation supplier, Force24, with the view to enhance how we communicate with customers and wider industry.

    We launch MyHRCases – the industry’s only ER case management tool with 1-click employment lawyer integration.

  56. July 2019

    We’ve done it again! ESP Law is shortlisted for Employment Law Firm of the Year at the Personnel Today awards 2019 for the third year in a row.

  57. October 2019

    Our Konica Minolta case study goes live, highlighting how we helped the organisation navigate a challenging period of evolution, outsourcing and redundancy.

  58. November 2019

    We host our #ESPLawLive event in London, helping HR professionals tackle workplace grievance and sexual harassment in the #MeToo era.

    It is a double-header of case studies as industry heavyweights Randstad and Countryside Properties discuss our ER credentials.

  59. December 2019

    We publish our Greene King case study, which looks at our role in helping the UK’s leading pub retailer to uphold its 200-year-old reputation.

    We also round off the year having secured 72 pieces of media coverage – reaching a potential audience of 2.7 million people. Thanks, Scriba PR!

  60. January 2020

    We launch our ER white paper ‘Seven key challenges In-house ER teams face in 2020’ – which is still available to download for free.

    In the same month, we were also shortlisted in the ‘Legal Services Innovation’ category ahead of the LexisNexis Awards.

  61. February 2020

    The team is highly commended in the ‘ABS of the Year’ category at the Modern Law Awards, and our Boy’s Brigade case study is published – looking at how we helped a Christian youth organisation find the integrated HR support they were looking for.

  62. March 2020

    Coronavirus takes hold – and we begin real-time briefings on the latest developments – including Q&As on the CJRS and critical advice for employers in their time of need.

    In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we provide UK businesses with more than 800 hours of employer-based advice – a record number of enquiries and a 60% increase compared to time logged in the same month last year.

  63. April 2020

    Our latest case study goes live, this time from international ventilation product supplier, Volution Group and how we became ingrained in their HR department.

  64. May 2020

    Our thought leadership piece on HR legacy systems goes to print in theHRDirector.

    We also announce a hat-trick of new starters for the ESP Law team.

  65. Jun 2020

    The summer saw us continue to produce - and update - our range of Coronavirus Q&As on our blog to keep helping employers to navigate the Covid-19 crisis.

  66. Jul 2020

    This month marked the first of our ER technology blog series – kickstarting with why it’s often the forgotten HR module.

  67. Aug 2020

    Senior solicitor, Charlotte Ashton, joins the ESP Law team following an established background in immigration law.

  68. Sep 2020

    Our collaboration with the Broker Network (HR Consultancy Team) goes live as our latest customer case study.

  69. Oct 2020

    HR Magazine publishes Pete Byrne’s thought leadership feature on how employee relations (ER) is the secret to a ‘happy marriage’ between HR and employment law.

  70. Feb 2021

    As businesses continue to recover, our latest case study delves into how we helped experienced telemarketing business DJST navigate mass redundancy during Covid-19.

  71. Mar 2021

    Our journey towards further mid-market expansion continues – we announce esphr is formally part of Marlowe plc. Joining as the group’s leading SRA-regulated law firm, we continue to provide best-in-class employment law advice and ER technology solutions.

Do not just take our word for it.

Here are some of our recent industry accolades...

ESP Ltd

Offering online HR resources and e-learning support services

ESP Law Ltd

An SRA regulated law firm offering employment law advice and training, as well as employment tribunal case management services

ESPHR Software Services Ltd

Offering a market-leading, online ER case management system (MyHRCases)

ESP Safeguard Ltd

FCA regulated general underwriting agency business offering specialist employment tribunal insurance

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