Why we started Zest

We’re a curious bunch here at Zest. We like to ask questions to enable us to better understand what our clients and candidates really want so that we can work with them to achieve the outcomes that both parties are looking for.

However, we’re not just interested in how great a certain law firm is or the number of awards or accolades they may have won. Nor are we fixated on what a candidate has achieved in their career to date.

All of these things matter, but they don’t paint a true picture of what makes each party tick – the things that make them truly different to all others in the same sector or performing the same role.

This is something that we recently started to think more about for ourselves when we were researching the key industry awards to consider entering this year. And, the one key question that seems to be common to most award entries is, Why should your company win this award?

As Zest Recruitment & Consultancy LLP approaches its first year anniversary, we sat down to try and answer that question. This is our response.


Launched 12 months ago, Zest Recruitment & Consultancy set out to provide something very different to what already existed in the South West and Wales recruitment marketplace.

Established by Rhiannon Cambrook-Woods and Kate Shorney-Morris, the business covers all Legal sector hiring requirements, with a particular success for senior level roles such as Partner, Director, Departmental Head and COO/CEO, which accounted for 67% of all placements made in 2016.

Preaching what we once practised

But what makes us different is that both founders are former practising Solicitors with a combined legal industry experience of over 40 years, making us the only legal recruiter in the region run by qualified lawyers.

Having graduated in Law from the Aberystwyth University in 1997, Kate started her career with Eversheds followed by a move to Hugh James Solicitors, where she worked for 12 years before moving to New Law.

Rhiannon graduated from the University of the West of England in 1997 and spent the first nine years of her legal career working with the Helphire Group, followed by five years with Leech & Co before joining Kate at New Law in 2013.

Born out of frustration

Having spent almost 20 years each as legal practitioners, responsible for the recruitment of staff within our own teams, we had become frustrated with the approach taken by many existing recruitment firms we consulted.

This frustration was down to one key thing: a lack of real understanding of the nuances and challenges legal firms face when hiring new staff. The type of Legal recruitment firm we wanted to engage with simply did not exist, so we created it ourselves.

Demonstrating that we really do put our clients’ interests above our own

The way we operate differs vastly to many of our competitors: We will only put a candidate forward for a role if we truly believe they are the right person for the job.

We have withdrawn a candidate before they attended an interview and we have even advised a client against hiring another candidate we put forward.

Although both candidates were strong and could very easily perform the advertised role fantastically well, each client was looking for a certain cultural ‘fit’ that was not apparent during the selection process.

Upon recognising this we sacrificed the business in order to serve the best interests of both clients and candidates. This may have cost us in lost commission a rarity for a start-up), but we enhanced our reputation as a recruitment firm who truly puts the client first.

Combined, these factors would play a critical role in the early success of the business:

  • First year target exceeded: We finished 2016 achieving 47.5% over target, with revenues exceeding £100k in less than 12 months
  • Increased headcount: We increased our headcount with an additional Consultant – a full six months ahead of schedule
  • New office: We expanded our reach across into the South West and recently secured an additional office in Bristol to further our growth plans in the region.


There you have it. A company born out of frustration that has evolved into a passion for delivering great service and matching the right people to the right roles, every time.

With the plans we have in place and the evident appetite for the unique services that we provide, we are extremely confident that 2017 will be a year of continued growth for the business.