With an ambitious ex-Brabners Chaffe Street partner at the helm, Harrison Drury & Co in Preston has changed its outlook over the past 12 months.
The firm appointed John Chesworth as managing partner in April 2007. Since then Preston-born Chesworth has taken what he terms a “fairly sleepy” firm and tried to shake it up to build a business ready to face the difficult times ahead.
“It was clear the firm needed a lot of investment to shift its focus,” says Chesworth. “I think we’re seeing a shift in the legal landscape in this region and there are a lot of high street firms disappearing very quickly. We’re aiming for a small commercial firm, light on its feet and able to react quickly to new markets.”
The firm, which has a niche practice in professional liability for surveyors, has broadened its work book to include new instructions from Mersey Waste – a client Chesworth brought with him from his Brabners days.
“My theory is that a lot of firms haven’t been ready for the 21st century,” notes Chesworth. “If you’re going to survive then you must be able to cope after work like conveyancing and will probate becomes commoditised. There will always be jobs that go to Eversheds, Cobbetts and DLA Piper, but we’re looking for smaller work at a cheaper price that still requires a local firm.”
Harrison Drury recently opened an office in Blackburn, run by Greg Boyes, formerly of Halliwells, and Andy Herricks, formerly of Glaisyers, to service the East Lancashire market.
“The Blackburn office has really been a boon for us,” Chesworth explains. “Regional markets can be parochial, so it’s great to have two guys who know who to talk to. Greg and Andy are pushing against an open door.”
The firm is looking to make some additional hires in the New Year as Chesworth settles further into the role of managing partner.
“For the first time in years it’s a good time to be picking up really good people,” he says. “Very few lawyers get to run a firm and I love having the flexibility to change the direction of the business.”
Firm: Harrison Drury & Co Managing partner: John Chesworth Turnover: £1.6m Number of partners: Four Number of equity partners: Three Number of lawyers: Eight Number of fee-earners: 13 Number of offices: Two Locations: Preston and Blackburn Main practice areas: Commercial property, company commercial, commercial and property dispute resolution, professional liability for property professionals, private client Clients: BioGen Power, James Hall & Co, Mersey Waste, Kiernan Construction, Lancashire Fire and Rescue