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"We see ourselves staying in the mid tier but growing bigger," says Steven Newdall, managing partner of eight-partner Leeds firm Levi & Co. "We like the phrase 'big isn't always beautiful'. The idea is to grow where clients demand our services rather than simply growing for the sake of growing."
The firm was established by Jack Levi in Leeds in 1934 as a general practice with an emphasis on criminal defence and legal aid work. Levi died in 1983 and since then the firm has been repositioning itself in the local market. "We now don't do any crime at all and there's a very small amount of legal aid work left," Newdall says. "We like to see ourselves as a mid-sized commercial and private practice law firm." In 2001 the firm extended its Yorkshire presence by opening an office in Bradford.
In the last 10 years the firm has seen staff and profits double. "We reckon we're now growing at a rate of 7 per cent per annum across all areas, and our turnover's up by the same amount year-on-year," Newdall says. Main practice areas are commercial and residential property, commercial litigation, wills and probate, private client, matrimonial and personal injury. It is a panel member for housing builder Persimmon and for construction company George Wimpey. It also handles personal injury work for food company Nestlé and advises AFC Recruitment.
"The local market is very buoyant for legal practices at the moment," Newdall says. "Certainly insofar as there's lots of commercial property work going on and then, on the back of that, there's a lot of commercial litigation work. It's a good time to be a decent law firm here."
Levi & Co has been involved in a number of landmark cases in recent years, such as D v East Berkshire Community Health NHS Trust, which went to the House of Lords in April this year. It established that healthcare and childcare professionals did not owe a duty of care to parents against whom they made unfounded allegations of child abuse. Last year the firm acted on Sykes v Taylor-Rose, where it was found that the sellers of a house, aware at the time of sale that a murder had taken place there, were under no duty to disclose that fact to the purchasers.
"As a firm we act quickly and we aren't afraid to lose a client by giving the right advice - and we think our clients like us for that," says Newdall. "We're pretty aggressive when it comes to litigation - we like to get stuck in."
Steven Newdall Managing partner Levi & co Managing partner: Steven NewdallTurnover: £3.2mTotal number of partners: Eight Total number of lawyers: 29Main practice areas: Commercial litigation, commercial and residential property, matrimonial, personal injury, private client and wills and probateKey clients: AFC Recruitment, George Wimpey, Nestlé and Persimmon HomesNumber of offices: Two Location: Leeds and Sheffield