Two new lawyers, Catherine Armitage, who re-joins the firm as a partner from Newstead and Walker, Otley, and Kieran McIvor, who joins from a Cumbrian firm, help Barber Titleys, Harrogate, create one of the biggest Wills, Trusts and Probate Departments in North Yorkshire, with a total team of 11, including partners Judith Long and Mark Jones.
This comes as the practice withdraws from company and commercial work with the retirement of partner Martin Blackham, after 37 years. He will remain a consultant to the firm.
Barber Titleys’ re-positioning started last autumn (2012) with the appointment of senior solicitor, Simon Berger who succeeds Martin Blackham in delivering the firm’s civil litigation work. He will also help drive the expansion of the firm’s services for contested Probate and Trust maters.
The current practice was created in 1997 with the merger of two long-established Harrogate firms, Barber Robinson, established in 1880 and Titley Paver-Crow and Fedden which had been trading since 1883.
Barber Titleys’ Will, Trusts and Probate Department, which works throughout the UK and overseas, has long-standing experience in dealing with agricultural estates and private charitable trusts, including that of textile baron, Charles Sykes and his wife Elsie, started in the 1950s, which is among the top 500 charitable trusts in the country.
Barber Titleys’ new focus on private client work dovetails with the firm’s other key expertise in residential and commercial property through a team led by partner Richard Davis and planning and development through partner, Tim Axe.
Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate, Judith Long, a partner with Barber Robinson since 1990 and at Barber Titleys since the merger, said:
Martin Blackham is a hugely experienced corporate lawyer and we did not feel we could replace him.
Focusing on our already well established and respected Wills Trusts and Probate Department, builds on our main strengths and sets us apart, particularly at a time when there is less corporate activity and the economic climate is making people very aware of their assets and finances and how best to protect them. There is a very large number of Wills being contested, perhaps more than ever before.
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But wider trends in the legal market have also led Barber Titleys to re-focus its energy on private client work. Judith Long added:
We see the start of banks and supermarkets such as Tesco’s drawing up Wills as a significant problem waiting to happen and something the public will come to see as an aberration.
These are not quick pro-forma exercises which can be handled over the phone but important life issues which need a detailed, holistic approach so that the right advice can be given to clients.
It may be sometime before this new trend starts to unravel but for many people it will and we will be ready with a large and experienced team to give people the guidance they deserve.
Barber Titleys, which has 28 staff, has specialist strengths in planning, commercial, residential and agricultural property, family law, private and charitable trust services and all matters relating to wills and inheritance planning.