Total number of partners: Nine
Total number of lawyers: 26
Total number of staff: 66
Main practice areas: Company and commercial, employment, wills and probate, litigation, property and IP
Key clients: Cleanaway, Countrywide Assured Group, Everest, NatWest and Selex Systems
Number of offices: One
Location: Brentwood, Essex
Essex law firm Wortley Byers boasts royal connections. The firm has been advising Sugar Hut Group, the owner of the fashionable nightclub Karma Bar in Chelsea (which Prince Harry ranks as one of London’s top five clubs), on its expansion into Brentwood.
Sugar Hut Group recently opened a Thai restaurant in the town, where the company’s headquarters are also based.
“As a firm, we very much enjoy helping new ventures and small businesses grow, and we hope to grow with them,” says Stephen Chandler, Wortley Byers managing partner. “We like to take them through the process and deal with acquisitions and new openings. We pride ourselves on being good at that.”
The firm stresses that Brentwood is a popular place for companies wanting an out-of-London base. For example, Ford of Europe, Countryside Properties, Cleanaway and Amstrad all have offices there.
“People might think: ‘What’s a firm of 66 staff doing in Brentwood?'” says Chandler. “But that’s where we’ve always been based and we’ve always made a positive decision to stay here and not, for example, expand by opening branches around the county or even in London.”
In January 2003, Wortley Byers regrouped under one roof when it moved into 10,500sq ft of office space at its Cathedral Place headquarters.
The firm’s workload breaks down as 30 per cent corporate, 30 per cent commercial property and 15 per cent litigation and family. Private client and other general matters make up the remaining 25 per cent.
Wortley Byers has a number of national clients; however, there is often a regional connection. For example, the firm is advising Cleanaway on a multimillion-pound tender with municipal authorities. The firm’s commercial team has developed something of a niche in acting on insurance broker transactions and represents London brokers James Hallam, which has expanded out of the City and into Brentwood and Watford.
Wortley Byers has also recently advised on the outsourcing by Brentwood County Council of all its leisure services to a new trust.
“We like to have long relationships and build relationships that endure,” says Chandler. “Certainly, one thing that makes us stand out is that we can provide a City level of service but at a much reduced fee level.”