Movers & Shakers: Law firm Birkett Long expands its team

Stephanie Bussell , Sophie Harper, Claire Hunt and John Fawcet of Birkett Long..

Stephanie Bussell , Sophie Harper, Claire Hunt and John Fawcet of Birkett Long.. - Credit: Archant

Essex law firm Birkett Long has expanded its ranks with a further two trainee solicitors.

John Fawcett and Stephanie Bussell join second-year trainees Sophie Harper and Claire Hunt.

All four are working in the firm’s Colchester office in Crouch Street and will be moving across various divisions, known as ‘seats’, to ensure they have a good grounding in all forms of law.

Sophie is currently in the commercial and corporate finance team, Claire works in the dispute resolution team, John for the rural and residential property team and Stephanie with wills, trusts and probate.

Adrian Livesley, managing partner at Birkett Long, said: “Having new blood in the organisation is essential. Young, bright people bring a fresh approach and renewed vitality to us.

“These four trainees have already achieved a lot in their lives to get to this point and had huge competition to get this far.”

At Birkett Long, trainees usually spend time with four departments in their two-year contract, each seat typically lasting around six months.

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Adrian adds: “Ensuring our trainees move through the departments means they get to see how each area of law works and expand their legal knowledge and skills before qualifying.

“It also gives them a better ability to know in what kind of law they would like to specialise.”

: : Chartered accountants and business advisers Larking Gowen has promoted Giles Kerkham to the post of senior manager within its growing not-for-profit team.

In his new role, Mr Kerkham will divide his time between Larking Gowen’s Norwich and Ipswich offices where he will concentrate on the expansion of this specialist client base, primarily within Suffolk and Essex.

The firm already serves a wide range of not for profit organisations including registered charities, social housing providers, independent schools, free schools and academies across East Anglia.

“I am very much looking forward to my new challenge,” said Mr Kerkham. “As well as developing new business opportunities my role will include further training and coaching of staff to enable them to develop the skills needed to service this unique sector.”

Mr Kerkham joined Larking Gowen in 2000 as a student and qualified as a chartered accountant 10 years ago. In 2007 he became one of the first accountants to receive the profession’s new not for profit sector advisory qualification.

: : Six out of 10 candidates who sat the Associate entry to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) in the East of England have passed their assessment and have gained a professional qualification. They included Glenn Cattermole, of Felixstowe, and Maria Gladczuk, of Ipswich.

Candidates came from a variety of backgrounds and are among the increasing number of people opting to qualify through this new pathway.

Associate membership to RICS allows for individuals without a degree to gain a professional qualification in property or the built environment. With the cost of university stacking higher and higher it is hoped that this pathway will improve access to the surveying profession.

New members will now have AssociateRICS next to their name, synonymous the most widely recognised professional status in land, property and construction. This reputation is maintained by the professional body which - in line with its Royal Charter - sets and regulates the highest standards of competence in public interest.

Congratulating new members, Luay Al-Khatib RICS East of England Regional Director said: “With the jobs market remaining extremely competitive and the cost of university now a real apprehension for many young people, it is critical that the professions open their doors to entry level candidates.

“Associate membership allows individuals with an interest in land, property or construction the first step to ‘MRICS’ – full chartered status. I am delighted that the results for the Associate route were so strong and hope that our new associate members will reap the benefits of belonging to the world’s largest and best recognised professional body in land, property and construction.”

: : Bury St Edmunds-based corporate pension advisers Beckett Financial Services is celebrating a 100% success rate for its employee benefits team in gaining a Certificate in Pensions Automatic Enrolment.

Nicola Prince, director of employee benefits at the firm, warned that 2014 will be a challenging year for the pensions industry with about 38,000 employers required to comply with new legislation during the course of the year.

“Auto enrolment is complex,” said Nicola. “Employers looking for help with the process need to identify an adviser well in advance of their staging date. The sooner an employer appoints an adviser, the easier the task of implementation will be.” The ‘staging date’ is the date the new employer duties are “switched on” for the employer.

One of the key competencies for advisors is the Certificate in Pensions Automatic Enrolment, which was launched in October 2012 by the Pensions Management Institute.

“The exam is designed for individuals who are advising on and implementing the complex requirements of auto enrolment in the workplace,” said Nicola,

“Every member of our Employee Benefits advisory team has passed this exam.”

The overall pass rate for the candidates that took the examination in October 2013 was 53% demonstrating the complexity of the topic, she said. Less than 900 individuals have passed this examination and a large proportion of those do not give advice to employers. There are approximately 20,000 financial advisers in the UK with the majority being generalists or wealth advisers not specialist group pension/corporate advisers.

“We are committed to ensuring our staff are as well trained as possible and our 100% examination success and practical experience of the auto enrolment process means we are one of the best placed firms in East Anglia to help employers tackle the challenges ahead,” she said.

: : East Anglian recruitment firm polkadotfrog has appointed Donna Minns as specialist account manager to recruit senior executive positions across the region.

Splitting her time between the Norwich and Ipswich offices, Donna is recruiting high level senior positions in areas including marketing, public relations, digital, creative, online and social media for both agency and in-house positions.

Donna said: “With over 16 years spent in recruitment, I have experience in matching clients and candidates in a range of sectors. It’s my job to find exceptional and driven candidates to match the needs of employers. One of the sectors I will recruit for is marketing which is a sector we are increasingly developing at polkadotfrog.”

Director and founder Lucy Tufts said: “The introduction of the new executive offering is an exciting premium opportunity for us and we know there is a growing demand for recruitment firms to help businesses find quality and experienced candidates. Donna brings a wealth of experience which will be integral to supporting our future growth, building relationships with local businesses and securing local talent.”

: : Clare Szurek is the new Entrepreneurs Circle regional business growth adviser for the Midlands and East Anglia.

Her business background has spanned working for Sainsbury’s and Waitrose - where she was the first female manager to also have children, as well as managing a £500 million contract for a process outsourcing company and starting her own successful business, mocha-mama.

Clare will be hosting a series of meetings across the region entitled Why Now? which argues that now is the best time in 20 years to grow small businesses - detailing things small businesses can do to double their profits in 2014.

Entrepreneur Nigel Botterill formed the Entrepreneur’s Circle in 2010, and since then he and his team have been helping thousands of business owners become more profitable, including Clare’s business, mocha-mama.

mocha-mama went from strength to strength and Clare also launched a ‘mums in business’ networking group.

“I want to share the knowledge I have to help others succeed. I have managed £500million contracts and small independent businesses,” Clare said. “There is a huge amount of people out there who are deeply frustrated – men and women - who have fantastic potential, but nobody has either directed, or shown them how to maximise on those talents and manage their time to their best advantage.”

She added: “I had found it so beneficial being a member that I wanted to help others experience the same support. Being your own boss is fantastic but it can be lonely. Having a team always on your side to bounce ideas off helped keep me focused,” she said.

“I worked with some fantastic people in the corporate world, but I hadn’t come across that calibre of person in the small/medium business world. In the Entrepreneurs Circle I met people like me who were clearly entrepreneurial, who had vision and were willing to share their experience and ideas.”