Firm profile: Judge & Priestley

Last year Judges brought in sweeping changes to the way it operates its business.

Managing partner:

Steve Taylor
Turnover: £4.5m
Total number of partners: Nine
Total number of fee-earners: 50
Main practice areas: Commercial property, conveyancing, debt recovery, litigation, personal injury, wills and probate
Key clients: British Gas, Norwich Union, ADT Fire & Security, London Borough of Lambeth, London Borough of Southwark
Number of offices: One
Location: Bromley, Kent

“We’ve undergone a bit of a revolution in the past 12 months,” says Steve Taylor, managing partner of Kent-based law firm Judge & Priestley.

Last year Judges brought in sweeping changes to the way it operates its business.

In August the firm embarked on a merger with Clarke Nurse Solicitors from Orpington in Kent. The merger brought the firm two new partners in the form of Tony Clarke and Ann Nurse, both of whom are conveyancing specialists, with a special focus on housing association clients.

Taylor is pleased with the way the new team has been integrated into the firm.

“The merger has brought in new expertise to the firm and it’s worked very well. Lots of clients have followed them,” he says.

Judges also took the step of recruiting its first non fee-earning managers, bringing in, among others, a financial director and a couple of managers for its debt recovery arm.

“The hires leave partners freer to do what we’re good at, which is fee-earning and generating new business,” Taylor explains.

A new case management system was also introduced to the debt recovery practice, enabling clients access to their cases via the internet.

Meanwhile, the firm also converted to limited-liability partnership (LLP) status in May, a step that Taylor says was inevitable.

“We had a view that LLP status was the way the profession was going. I do think it provides us with a better corporate structure,” he says.

As managing partner since 1998, Taylor is responsible for a firm of nine partners and 50 fee-earners. Established in 1889, Judges is expecting turnover to reach £4.5m for the 2005-06 financial year.

The firm’s main practice area is litigation, but covers a wide range of clients. It acts for many local authorities in their Asbo applications and has a substantial debt recovery service. Other practice areas include personal injury and will and probate services.

Taylor expects this year to be a bit calmer on the development front, although there are plans to role out the case management system to other parts of the business.

For Taylor, though, the focus now is to consolidate the recent changes. “We’re looking to reap the rewards of what we did last year,” he states.

Lorraine Cushnie