Firm profile: Rutherfords Solicitors
14 February 2005
Managing partner: Peter Wiseman
Total number of partners: Three
Total number of lawyers: Nine solicitors, seven legal executives
Main practice areas: Conveyancing, commercial, family, personal injury and probate
Key clients: Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Work and Pensions, Drayton Manor Theme Park, Health & Safety Executive, Information Commissioner and the Medical Defence Union
Number of offices: Two
Location: Castle Bromwich and Tamworth
After more than 80 years in practice, Birmingham's Rutherfords Solicitors is ramping up its offering in two areas - commercial and private client. Managing partner Peter Wiseman hopes to double partner numbers in the next two years.
All three of the firm's partners are located in Tamworth, which also houses the bulk of Rutherfords' nine solicitors. The firm's seven legal executives are principally focused on private client and domestic and commercial conveyancing.
The commercial practice centres around commercial property and acquisitions by small to medium-sized companies. It celebrated a coup earlier this year when solicitor David Waterhouse advised on the acquisition of finance provider Practice Loan Company. To this end, the firm has recently taken on an employment specialist to service the employment needs of commercial clients.
Rutherfords' personal injury (PI) practice suffered from competition in the form of claims handling organisations such as Claims Direct. But the firm eschewed advertising or a tie-in with the claims organisations and today the PI practice is rebounding. Wiseman says: "We've recovered a lot of ground because of growing public awareness. Gradually, we're restoring the practice to an acceptable level of new instructions."
One partner and a senior solicitor are now engaged in full-time PI work and Rutherfords holds the only legal aid clinical negligence contract in Staffordshire.
The connection the firm is perhaps most proud of is that with theme park Drayton Manor. The park has been a client since Rutherfords advised on its inception in 1948.
An office in Castle Bromwich in Birmingham's south east houses one solicitor and a legal executive, who focus on domestic conveyancing, private client and family litigation for local clients. While the viability of the office has been reviewed in the past, the firm is committed to Castle Bromwich, as Wiseman says it provides fertile ground for growing the private client practice.
Rutherfords started advising on insurance and public prosecution matters after World War II. The criminal defence practice may have disappeared, but a flourishing public prosecutions practice continues to this day. One solicitor is devoted solely to advising on criminal prosecutions for four key public bodies: the Health and Safety Executive, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Work and Pensions and the Information Commissioner.
The firm also runs a separate lettings agency in Tamworth. "Landlords are showing a greater willingness to treat lettings as the province of lawyers. We were the first to set up a stall," reveals Wiseman.
Wiseman is proud of the firm's staff retention rate, which contributed in part to it being awarded a Lexel accreditation this year.