Amidst the excitement of England’s success in the Ashes Tests, we have hit a century of our own here at Gardner Leader. When our latest recruit started on 17 August, she took our total headcount to 100 for the first time. In 2012, we had just over 60 people and so the growth in numbers – matched by an increase in our turnover of just over 50% over the same period – has been quite rapid.
Some of that growth came of course when we acquired the business of Heath Buckeridge Solicitors in Maidenhead last October, enabling us to spread our wings into the other end of Berkshire. This followed our successful acquisition of part of the business of Charles Hoile solicitors in Newbury in November 2013, which also added half a dozen new members to our team. Within the last couple of months we have expanded our office in Thatcham and relocated part of our inheritance protection team to that office so that we can offer those services on site in Thatcham as well as through our other offices.
All of this is part of a planned strategy for growth. We do not want to get bigger just for the sake of it, and we attach a massive amount of importance to retaining the values, ethos and atmosphere within the firm which has served us so well in the past. We recognised, however, that in an increasingly competitive industry we need to have the resources to keep pace if we are to continue to provide the best possible experience for our clients and attract the best staff. We need to be able to invest in technology in order to deliver our services in a way that suits our clients, and as running a law firm becomes increasingly complex, we will need to have more professionals devoted to the ‘back room’ stuff like compliance, finance and HR. Ultimately though, everyone’s focus is on ensuring that we deliver the best possible service for our clients – we are really proud that the continuous improvement programme we have put in place to help us achieve this has seen us nominated as a finalist in the Innovation category of this year’s West Berkshire Business Awards in October.
What does the future hold? It is impossible to know for sure but we have a plan for continued growth which we believe will enable us to remain fit for the future without changing the basic character of the firm. In a few weeks’ time, experienced litigator Hilary Messer will join our team in Maidenhead as a Senior Associate. She will join Niamh Minihane who came on board as an Associate in our inheritance protection team there in June and Fiona Tighe who moved across from Newbury to become the partner in charge of conveyancing in the office. We have just agreed terms for a very exciting appointment to our corporate team in Maidenhead as well which we hope to be able to say more about very shortly.
In Newbury, recent recruits have included Penny Wright in our inheritance protection team and we have also seen several additions to our conveyancing, family and litigation teams. Interviews are about to start for a new role of Finance Director to help us develop the business and we are also strengthening our IT team.
There is certainly plenty going on and while it might lack the drama of the cricket, these are exciting times for the Gardner Leader team.