When Hodge Jones & Allen was founded 33 years ago it was part of a wave of radical law firms established to fight injustice for the disadvantaged and disenfranchised.
While the firm has changed considerably since then, its ideology remains unaltered.
When it opened its doors in September 1977 there were just three lawyers and a secretary. The firm quickly made a name for itself in the 1980s by acting for workers during the miners’ strike. Later it represented Winston Silcott, the man charged with – and subsequently cleared of – the murder of PC Keith Blakelock during the Broadwater Farm riots in 1985.
While the firm announced redundancies recently, there are now more than 100 fee-earners and a total of 180 staff based at Hodge Jones’s offices in North Gower Street, Camden. While the majority of its revenue originally came from legal aid, this now accounts for just half of its £11m turnover.
The firm’s main practice areas are crime, family law, clinical negligence and housing. Other key areas include civil liberties and dispute resolution. Turnover is also bolstered significantly by no-win, no-fee personal injury work.
Senior partner Patrick Allen, a founding member, says the ethos of the firm has not changed.
“We set out to create a firm driven by the desire to right wrongs and correct injustices and that ideology remains the same,” he insists. “At the time we started the firm the Human Rights Act hadn’t arrived and a few so-called radical lawyers were trying to help people establish their rights, often against the police and other authorities. We wanted to use the law creatively to help these people.”
The firm, which has seen revenue grow by between 5 and 10 per cent over the past few years, became an LLP last May. Allen says this has made it easier to attract new partners, with four arriving in the past year.
Senior partner: Patrick Allen
Number of partners: 21
Number of lawyers: 70
Number of fee-earners: 103
Main practice areas: Civil liberties, clinical negligence, dispute resolution, family, housing, personal injury, serious fraud, wills and probate
Number of offices: One