Movers & Shakers: East Anglia law firm Prettys expands six practice teams

Sheilah Cummins, Sarah Furniss and Jade Boyle who have joined the team at Prettys, Ipswich.

Sheilah Cummins, Sarah Furniss and Jade Boyle who have joined the team at Prettys, Ipswich. - Credit: Archant

East Anglian law firm Prettys has announced the expansion of six practice teams by hiring an additional seven people.

The firm says it has seen a 23% increase in new instructions across its commercial and private teams since the start of the financial year, compared to the same period in the previous financial year, with particular activity in the construction, property investment and financial sectors across the region.

Chief executive Ian Carr said: “I am delighted to be able to expand six of our practice teams and grow our offices in Ipswich and Chelmsford. I am very positive about further growth this year and continuing to deliver a high quality service to all our clients.”

The teams benefiting from expansion are: corporate and commercial, family law, estates, personal injury, residential property, and employment in both the Ipswich and Chelmsford offices.

The employment team in Ipswich is growing with the addition of Sarah Furniss and Sheilah Cummins in response to the increased range of employment services that Prettys now offers including support with tax, pensions and immigration issues.

In Chelmsford, Miz Choudhury will be providing additional expertise to the corporate services team, who will be assisting businesses on a broad range of corporate and commercial transactions.

The firm has also welcomed Raunuk Wahiwala to the residential property team, and Natalie Smith will complement the services offered from the estates team.

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The final addition to the Chelmsford office is Sophie Harriman who has joined the family law team to help deliver a bespoke service to clients depending on their individual needs.

Finally, the personal injury team in Ipswich has welcomed Jade Boyle who will add her knowledge and experience as a litigation executive in the insurance department.

:: Holiday parks and residential operator Fellstead, which operates Carlton Meres Country Park, near Saxmundham, has appointed a new park manager in preparation for what is expected to be another year of growth for the business.

James Mills will take over responsibility for both the running of and maintenance of the site.

Owner Ryan Neill said: “James is highly qualified and will be using his superb experience to help us continue our record of excellent customer satisfaction and strengthen our offering at Carlton Meres Country Park. I wish him the very best of luck in his new role.

“It’s a great time to be a part of the Fellstead team. We’re only at the beginning and this year is already shaping up to be another big success for us.”

James said: “I’m excited to join the Fellstead team. They are renowned for their stunning and expertly run holiday parks. I feel very lucky to be able to work on such a scenic park surrounded by some of the best of Suffolk’s countryside you can find.

“I will do my best to ensure that the high-standards that have been set are rigorously upheld.”

:: Pastry chef Nicholas (Nick) Henn has joined the kitchen team at the Bildeston Crown, near Hadleigh, which is now managed as tenants by chef Chris Lee and his wife Hayley.

Although he is only 22 years old, Nick has already worked alongside a number of high profile chefs. Growing up in Coggeshall, just over the border in Essex, Nick completed his chef’s training on a day-release scheme at Colchester Institute while gaining experience working at local restaurant Baumanns.

A stint with Gary Rhodes in London was followed by a move to Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire where Nick was a member of the pastry section for the past four-and-a-half years. In 2014, while at le Manoir, Nick was a finalist for pastry in the prestigious Royal Academy of Culinary Arts Annual Awards of Excellence.

Nick has known Chris for more than six years, having worked with him on a number of charity fund-raising events and so when Chris and Hayley returned to the Bildeston Crown last September, Nick was ready to seize the opportunity to return to East Anglia and finally work with the Suffolk chef.

“There is quite a lot of adjustment to working at the Bildeston Crown after Le Manoir,” said Nick.

“For starters it is an awful lot smaller. However, I am really enjoying working with Chris, someone I have professionally admired for some time. I also really appreciate the opportunity to put my own stamp on the pastry section. I love making bread and so it is great that this is taken as a serious element of any meal at the Bildeston Crown. I am also very excited to have the freedom to develop my own style of dessert. I believe passionately that we can cut back on sugar, enhance flavour and produce creative and beautifully presented dishes that are also healthier.”

Chris said he was delighted to have such an experienced specialist pastry chef in his kitchen.

“With Nick on board, we are now a small but perfectly formed team. We have Stuart Darton who has been with me for the best part of 20 years, Luke Cornelius who has worked with me for two years and the hugely experienced Tim Johnson, formerly chef-proprietor of Michelin-starred Apicus in Cranbrook, who has been an invaluable support since we relaunched in September. We all agree that pastry is a specialist area in any kitchen and are happy to welcome Nick to the team. All in all, life is pretty sweet at the Bildeston Crown.”

n A hard-working property specialist at Essex law firm Birkett Long has just received promotion to associate level in recognition of her work.

Keeley Livingstone is a licensed conveyancer with the firm and is head of its south Essex residential real estate team.

“I was very proud to be told I had received this promotion. I enjoy every aspect of my job –it gives me a great buzz when you get to the completion day of any deal,” she said.

Keeley, from Chelmsford, leads a team of 14 including six lawyers.

“There is always someone to help if people cannot get through to a certain person,” she said.

Keeley is also a committee member of the Essex Ladies in Business, an organisation set up last summer to bring together professional women in and around Essex to make new connections and business opportunities.

Birkett Long has offices in Chelmsford, Colchester and Basildon.

:: LawyerFair,, an online matching service for businesses and lawyers, has welcomed former Thompson Reuters executive Julian Costley as its new chairman.

His appointment further strengthens the board, just weeks after Simon Mead’s placement as commercial director in December 2015.

Simon, who is based at Frinton-on-Sea, has spent the last few years working in and around the business support and development sector across Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk primarily through his work as chief executive of the Eastern Enterprise Hub in Ipswich and his associations with both Universkt Campus Suffolk and the University of Essex.

“Julian is a former senior executive at Thomson Reuters, BSB (later BSkyB), France Telecom and latterly E*TRADE UK,” said chief executive Andrew Weaver.

“He brings extensive media and on-line consumer marketing expertise to LawyerFair and boosts our plans to deliver real change in the UK’s corporate legal procurement process.

“We’re shaking up the way companies buy legal services, enabling better advice, improved service, and lower costs while, at the same time, bringing great clients at a lower acquisition cost to law firms. Julian’s experience of causing positive disruption to markets is absolutely aligned with our goals”, he said.

Julian Costley said: “There’s nothing more rewarding than joining a team of highly motivated, successful, and creative professionals, and Andrew Weaver’s LawyerFair is just that.

“The brand is already respected in the market by corporate customers and legal industry observers alike, and the growth metrics are very impressive, so my task is to add further momentum,” added Mr Costley.