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Movers and Shakers: Changes at the top for law firms Birketts and Gotelee

PUBLISHED: 15:17 08 June 2016 | UPDATED: 15:17 08 June 2016

Nigel Farthing and James Austin of Birketts.

Nigel Farthing and James Austin of Birketts.

Elm Studios

East of England law firm Birketts senior partner Nigel Farthing has stepped down from the role after 10 years, handing over the reins to James Austin.

Brian Morron and Alistair Lang of Gotelee Solicitors.Brian Morron and Alistair Lang of Gotelee Solicitors.

His departure comes as the firm celebrates a record turnover of more than £38.7m for the last financial year.

Chief executive Jonathan Agar said: “Nigel is one of those rare individuals who seeks no public acclaim for the role that he has played leading Birketts over the last decade. His stewardship is held in very high esteem within Birketts and the wider community due to his calm leadership and unstinting commitment to all aspects of the firm. It is fitting that as Nigel stands down from his role Birketts has again announced a record turnover. He heads off on a well-earned sabbatical but will return, refreshed and ready to lead the highly regarded Rights of Way practice in the autumn.”

Nigel said he had been “privileged” to have been entrusted with the role.

“Although the firm has grown substantially over that period, with offices now in Cambridge and Chelmsford as well as Ipswich and Norwich, I very much hope that the ethos and culture of the firm remains recognisable. If that is so, it is a tribute to the staff and partners whose loyalty and commitment has made my job an easy one. I am delighted to be able to hand over to James Austin a firm which is in rude good health and which I am confident will continue to thrive under his stewardship.”

James said: “It is a privilege to take over the reins from Nigel and to have the opportunity to build upon what has been a successful period in Birketts’ history. It is an exciting time for the Firm and we have a clear strategy in place to build upon the momentum of recent years. In Ipswich this includes plans for the move to a new office in Princes Street in 2017 which will enable us all to be under one roof for the first time in many years. With this and some great people lined up to join us the future of Birketts looks very positive.”

::Suffolk law firm Gotelee Solicitors has announced changes in its management. With effect from September 1, a new chief executive, Murray Thompson, will join the firm based full time at the Ipswich office. Mr Thompson has spent the last 20 years in major law firm management roles in Johannesburg and has decided to return to the UK where he took a law degree before training as a chartered accountant with Deloittes. He will work alongside current CEO, Alistair Lang, for a short spell after which Mr Lang will retire from the firm.

Senior Partner Brian Morron said: “Gotelee’s partners are now convinced the non-lawyer dhief executive is the right way to operate a progressive legal practice.  Alistair’s three years with the firm have set the direction, the tone and the pace for the future development of Gotelee.  We are delighted to have been able to attract a successor with the experience and enthusiasm of Murray to take the business forward.  While he is not yet familiar with the local business and legal services community, we have no doubt Murray will quickly absorb the Gotelee world - while being discreet about that fact that he went to school in Norwich and still supports NCFC!   Our search for Alistair’s successor has been wide ranging. Murray’s appetite for the Gotelee Vision and Project of becoming the natural law firm choice for Suffolk individuals and their businesses was the defining factor in our final decision.  We look forward to his arrival.”

Alistair said: “Gotelee is on a clear path towards its vison and I am delighted to have been part of the team creating that growth. The next phase of the firm’s development will be in good hands when Murray arrives and presses forward. I am in no doubt he is the right person for the job and I am leaving in the knowledge Gotelee’s future is bright.”

::Property law firm Attwells has appointed five new staff members to its Ipswich head office.

Jessica Lyttleton, 21, and Kelly Wilkes, 26, join as conveyancing assistants, Samuel Conner, 19, as assistant conveyancer, Laura Baldry, 34, joins the post completions department, and Emilia Szabo, 29, as conveyancing clerk.

Jessica said: “I am thrilled to have joined Attwells and I am really enjoying my time here so far. I’m keen to complete my CILEX course and wish to further pursue a career here at Attwells, with the aim of becoming a fee earner soon.”

Samuel said: “I am keen to learn more about conveyancing and the areas I have not yet explored within it. I’m also very much enjoying my time here so far and hope that I can grow with the firm in the future.”

Laura Baldry, who has 18 years of customer service experience in industry, said: “Law was a career that I began later in life than most, but in the short time I have been at Attwells, I have found it really rewarding and so in the future I would like to work my way up the ladder to become a well-respected full-time conveyancer.”

Kelly has joined after several years working in various customer service roles.

“I didn’t go through the usual route to get here, I haven’t been to university previously, but I have worked in a wide variety of customer service roles. I hope to stay with Attwells as they have provided me with a fantastic opportunity. My long term goal is to become a licensed conveyancer and complete my qualification in order to do this,” she said.

Emilia Szabo studied at the University of Westminster and previously undertook legal work experience at Virgin Media.

“I had a strong interest in property law during my legal studies and was therefore very pleased to have joined Attwells post completions team in February,” she said.

“I am seeking an opportunity that offers growth and increased responsibilities allowing me to build a breadth of knowledge in conveyancing matters as well as litigation and business. Attwells is a vibrant law firm accommodating a number of bright lawyers and ultimately, I would like to qualify as a solicitor here.”

::Rickinghall-based independent financial advisers Andrew Dickson Ltd has made senior adviser Kevin Froggatt a director and shareholder.

Kevin joined the firm, which was founded in 1994 by Andrew Dickson, in 2014 as a qualified independent financial adviser. Before that, he worked with HM Revenue & Customs as a personal tax adviser and, since joining, has been instrumental in expanding the business’s individual and corporate client-base.

Meanwhile. experienced paraplanner Alison Westgate has joined the firm.

Alison is a highly experienced paraplanner who is responsible for investment and product research for clients and for generating short and long term investment and risk management strategies and the detailed reports which the company provides as part of its service to clients.

::A property expert with 12 years’ experience in the housing industry has joined Linnet Residential Sales and Lettings as its business manager.

Jacqui Spicer has taken the helm at the growing company, based on Angel Hill in Bury St Edmunds. She brings with her wide local knowledge along with extensive experience in all aspects of the property industry, which she plans to use to further grow Linnet’s sales arm.

“I am delighted to have joined Linnet Residential Sales and Lettings, and am looking forward to overseeing the growth of the business over the coming few years,” said Jacqui, who lives just outside Bury St Edmunds.

Linnet was established in 2000 and provides rental homes in Cambridge, Norfolk and Suffolk. It is a subsidiary company of Suffolk Housing, and any profit it makes is paid to Suffolk Housing and used to provide more affordable housing in the region.

It provides a full sales service, offering professional advice on value, demand and effective marketing strategies, negotiation on behalf of vendors and sales progression through to completion. All clients are also provided with regular communication and updates.

::Two members of staff at Essex law firm Birkett Long have been promoted to associates.

Daniel Sturman, a commercial property solicitor who has been qualified for 10 years, is based in the Chelmsford office, and financial planning manager Paul Chilver works at the firm’s Colchester office has, and has been with the firm for 14 years.

Daniel said: “I am very happy working here and my promotion to Associate reinforces my intention to stay for the long term.”

Paul said he was “delighted” when he heard he was being promoted.

::Bury St Edmunds-based injury management and rehabilitation firm RehabWorks has appointed Derrick Farrell as its new chief executive officer.

The appointment sees the departure of Andy Holdcroft, who has led the business for more than five years.

Derrick has more than 20 years’ experience in the corporate health sector, most recently as a board director of Nuffield Health and Wellbeing business.

He brings a wealth of experience and knowledge, and a deep understanding of the health and wellbeing industry.

New equity partners Archimed acquired the company last year.

During his time at RehabWorks, Andy strengthened and expanded the business, most recently leading to the acquisition of the EAP company, Workplace Wellness, from Right Management in September 2015.

The firm said it was grateful for all his efforts.

Derrick said “It’s an exciting time to be joining RehabWorks. I’m looking forward to working with the team, engaging with clients and taking RehabWorks to the next phase of its development.”


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