No offence, but if someone mentions ‘Bury-based law firm’, you tend to think of a high-street solicitor.

But Shefali Talukdar, managing partner of Bury-based Clough & Willis, would like to put you straight.

The firm Talukdar heads has been around since 1904 and competes with the big boys in its four core areas of litigation (including employment, debt recovery and personal injury), property (including commercial, residential and corporate transactions), private client and family. In fact, says Talukdar, the same “big boys” have been trying to muscle in on what she sees as her firm’s patch.

“They’ve been trying to win work in some of our key areas,” Talukdar says. “They’ve been quite aggressive about it, which is something we haven’t seen for a few years – mainly because they haven’t had to.”

The competition will not have helped to boost fee income, which fell by 3 per cent in 2008-09 to £3m.
A further blow on top of the fee income loss is the effect of the low interest rate, which has led to a reduction in unearned income on reserves.

As far as the firm’s business goes, Talukdar says fees held up reasonably well across the board until November 2008 and that overall the firm’s property group was slightly down. But she remains confident that the current financial year will be relatively strong.

“We get a high proportion of repeat business, partly because our proposition of partner-led advice coupled with lower rates is attractive,” adds Talukdar.

That approach also works wonders with attracting some meaty laterals, including last August the former DWF and Cobbetts lawyer Richard Phillips, who joined as head of private client.

“Once you’re a partner here you tend to stay,” claims Talukdar, a lawyer at Clough & Willis since 1991 and a partner since 1997. “We have a low turnover, which clients like because it helps build relationships.”

Managing partner: Shefali Talukdar
Turnover: £3m
Number of partners: Nine
Number of equity partners: Seven
Number of fee-earners: 26
Number of offices: Three
Locations: Bury (two), Radcliffe, Greater Manchester
Main practice areas: Commercial and corporate, insolvency, employment and dispute resolution. On the private side, property, family, personal injury and wills and probate
Clients: Garic, Hurstwood Group, Royal Bank of Scotland, Yorkshire Bank