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

    esphr is founded in Albury, Surrey, by Pete Byrne.

  2. September 2003

    As we employ our two staff members, Hardings Estate Agents in Windsor becomes our first customer.

  3. January 2004

    With 50 customers on our books, and another two employees added, our modern business model and swift growth starts to get noticed more within the HR marketplace.

  4. April 2004

    We sign up our first very large corporate customer and begin supporting an in-house HR team comprising of 1,000 staff.

  5. September 2004

    Our first round of £100,000 funding comes in from Finance South East to help us further continue our business journey.

  6. January 2005

    A total of 100 customers are now on our books, as well as two more employees, and turnover doubles year-on-year.

  7. January 2006

    We are now at 200 customers and turnover continues to increase by over 30% each year.

  8. January 2007

    A duo of new recruits come onboard as we secure a second round of £100,000 in funding from Finance South East.

  9. January 2008

    LiveHRDocs is launched, providing a unique document creation, storage and auto-updating software solution.

  10. January 2009

    Reaching the 250-customer milestone, our turnover still grows at over 30% a year as we employ more staff to support our growth.

  11. March 2010

    We breakthrough the £1 million turnover barrier.

  12. May 2010

    Moving into larger offices – with a bigger workforce – in Woking, Surrey, we begin to need our own HR manager as we grow!

  13. May 2011

    Establishing a strategic partnership with Ward Hadaway to further strengthen our employment law advisory provision, the creation of an ‘esphr team of specialist employment lawyers’ is born.

  14. October 2011

    ESPHR Information Services Ltd is launched, offering bespoke HR administration and information software solutions to employers.

  15. December 2011

    Our first FCA-regulated company, ESP Safeguard Ltd, soon follows – established to provide specialist Employment Tribunal insurance cover to customers.

  16. September 2012

    Developing call reporting software, we bring this to the market to enable ESP legal advisors and businesses to access real-time information on all ER queries.

  17. July 2013

    We welcome our first in-house employment lawyer as we continue to strengthen our legal reputation.

  18. October 2013

    To mark our 10th anniversary, our whole team is taken on an all-inclusive trip to Marrakesh!

  19. January 2014

    A second legal advisor is employed – a qualified solicitor with over 10 years’ experience.

  20. March 2014

    ESP Law Ltd is established as we begin the process of becoming approved by the SRA as an ABS law firm.

  21. June 2014

    We sign up our single largest customer boasting 10,000 staff and 1,800 retail outlets throughout the UK.

  22. July 2014

    Following a major upgrade to our core online HR resources portal, we begin to look and feel market-leading, and this is only the beginning...

  23. December 2014

    It would not be a company celebration without an all-inclusive trip. This time it is Tenerife as a reward for smashing our 2014 targets!

  24. March 2015

    Breaking through the £1.5 million turnover barrier, we also achieve more than £1 million of recurring annual subscription revenues.

  25. May 2015

    Great news! ESP Law is licensed and approved by the SRA.

  26. September 2015

    ESP Law starts trading – a massive step forward in becoming the new-model employment law firm we have always talked about.

  27. February 2016

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

  28. March 2016

    Signing up more major brands, we are asked to tender for one of the largest corporate mergers in the UK this year.

  29. May 2016

    The new esphr branding is unveiled and our new website launches.

  30. July 2016

    Another highly qualified employment solicitor joins our ranks, bringing over seven years’ of legal experience.

  31. August 2016

    We are shortlisted in the prestigious Law Society Excellence Awards 2016 in the ‘Excellence in Client Service’ category.

  32. September 2016

    Our expertise is requested to tender for an outsourced ER service for a business with over 14,000 employees.

  33. October 2016

    We welcome a health and beauty retail giant as a new customer.

  34. March 2017

    We post our best set of financial results to date.

  35. April 2017

    Having smashed our new business targets, we book a summer stay for our team at the Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa retreat as a thank you.

  36. May 2017

    Signing up £1bn turnover housebuilder Keepmoat Ltd, we also bring in Scriba PR to help tell our story and drive more strategic ER conversations in our industry.

  37. June 2017

    A leading global food company comes on board as we run our first customer networking and training day – a mock Employment Tribunal event in London which attracts over 80 attendees.

  38. July 2017

    We are shortlisted for ‘Employment Law Firm of the Year’ in the Personnel Today Awards and appointed as ER advisors to the Ladbrokes Coral-merged businesses – comprising of 25,000 employees.

  39. August 2017

    For a second successive year, esphr is a finalist in the Law Society Excellence Awards for the ‘Excellence in Client Service’ category.

  40. October 2017

    Greene King plc appoints us as its employment law advisory team to help support over 44,000 staff.

  41. December 2017

    A highly qualified solicitor, with more than 15 years’ experience, joins us to further bolster our legal expertise.

  42. March 2018

    Another premium business signs-up – this time a clothing brand with 350 staff.

  43. April 2018

    With turnover up by 50%, we also achieve 110% of our top tiered target – smashing our year-end financial targets!

  44. May 2018

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

  45. June 2018

    Signing up a 4,000-employee financial regulator and a well-known 1,000-strong water utilities company, we also run a live disciplinary training event for 50 VIP customers at BPP Law School in London.

  46. July 2018

    UK-leading recruitment firm Randstad joins us and, for the second year in a row, we are shortlisted for ‘Employment Law Firm of the Year’ in the Personnel Today Awards.

  47. August 2018

    Continuing our fantastic awards streak, we are a finalist in the Law Society Excellence Awards for a third successive time. In addition, we sign up a major London publishing firm with 1,000 staff.

  48. September 2018

    We recruit a senior solicitor with 10 years’ experience and a legal background which includes working for the UK’s number one national road transport law firm.

  49. October 2018

    Jet-setting to an all-inclusive holiday to Tenerife, the team celebrates eclipsing 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

    An outsourced business comprising of 27,500 staff joins the esphr journey as we are highly commended for the ‘Boutique Law Firm of the Year’ at the Modern Law Awards.

  52. March 2019

    Tracking our immense growth, rail operator LNER signs up with a 3,500-strong workforce as well as a leading IT regulator.

  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 did it! Scooping the ‘Future of Legal Services Innovation’ accolade at the Legal Week Innovation Awards, it is another exciting month as we also land a leading charity – with 11,000 staff spanning 37 countries.

  55. June 2019

    As well as integrating marketing automation technology – to better understand our audience – we also launch our market-leading ER case management system MyHRCases with 1-click employment law integration.

  56. July 2019

    Third time is a charm as esphr is again shortlisted for ‘Employment Law Firm of the Year’ at the Personnel Today awards.

  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.

  72. Apr 2021

    Growing our customer base even further, we sign a multinational media and digital marketing communications company to empower its ER strategy and upskill the HR team’s employment law knowledge.

  73. May 2021

    It was a record financial Q1 having added another two organisations to our roster – one a leading provider of investment management and the other an independent letting agency.

  74. Jun 2021

    More than 350 delegates tuned in to our latest #ESPLawLive VIP webinar on ‘understanding the Right to Work changes’, hosted by senior solicitors Charlotte Ashton and Charlotte Morris.

  75. Jul 2021

    Suzanne Wrench joins ESP Law as an associate solicitor possessing 16 years’ PQE. Alongside private and public sector expertise, Suzanne’s skills include TUPE transfers support and managing the defence of tribunal claims – including applications to the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

  76. Oct 2021

    On October 4 we officially co-branded with a newly-launched division within Marlowe plc called WorkNest. Made up of long-established, specialist companies – including Ellis Whittam and Law At Work – the organisation helps companies to manage all its employment, safety and wellbeing challenges.

Do not just take our word for it.

Here are some of our recent industry accolades...

The Employment Services Partnership Ltd (ESP)

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

ESP Safeguard Ltd

FCA regulated general underwriting agency business offering specialist employment tribunal insurance

Book your FREE Consultation

We help busy HR professionals make a real commercial difference to their organisations by offering personalised, integrated and strategic ER solutions.

Fill in your details here and one of our friendly team will be in touch!

All data is processed by esphr in accordance with esphr's privacy policy.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.