Firm profile: Higgs & Sons

Higgs & Sons” />Senior partner: Ian Shovlin
Turnover: £7m
Total number of partners: 24 (15 equity)
Total number of staff: 150
Main practice areas: Commercial property, company and commercial, employment, family, insolvency, litigation, personal injury, residential property and trusts and tax
Key clients: Commercial property – Folkes Holding, London & Cambridge Properties and Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries; Employment – HP Bulmer, Law Society and Wyco
Number of offices: Four
Location: Brierley Hill, Dudley, Kingswinford and Stourbridge

“Out of the 15 equity partners, 13 began as trainees with the firm,” says Ian Shovlin, senior partner and head of personal injury (PI) at West Midlands firm Higgs & Sons. “We have a very low turnover, from secretaries to solicitors, so we’re doing something right.” The firm was founded in 1875 and is one of the largest in the region, running out of four offices throughout the Black Country.

The practice has more than 150 staff and advises both private and corporate clients. The workload divides up as follows: civil litigation and employment, 14 per cent; family, 9 per cent; PI, 17 per cent; probate, wills and trust, 23 per cent; domestic conveyancing, 11 per cent; commercial conveyancing, 13 per cent; and company and commercial, 13 per cent. “In the next few years those figures will change with a greater predominance on company and commercial, private client and civil litigation,” Shovlin says.

The firm has made a number of lateral hires of late to bolster corporate. Most recently it took on Geoff Kettle from local firm MFG Solicitors, where he worked for five years. His appointment, together with that of Damian Beard from local firm George Green, takes the total number in the department to eight and is, says Shovlin, “the fruition of a sustained period of strategic growth”.

“As part of our strategic development plan for corporate, we identified the need to make appointments in two key areas,” comments corporate head David Ellis. Kettle was the last piece of the jigsaw. “The team now in place has the strength in depth and level of expertise to provide a comprehensive and specialist service to business clients throughout the Midlands and beyond,” adds Ellis.

From October the firm will be losing its criminal practice. “Crime’s the only area that we’ve stopped doing over the last 50 years,” says Shovlin. “The returns that we were getting from it were less and less profitable.”

“We aren’t redefining what we’re doing,” he continues. “We’ve always been a Black Country firm, but we’ve acted for clients throughout the country. We have a reputation in the West Midlands for providing a quality, cost-effective and partner-led service, which we want to continue.” He says the firm is well placed to take on the Birmingham city firms 10 miles away. “We offer the same specialisations but our overheads are lower, so we can offer a partner-led service at the same cost as an associate or assistant solicitor in Birmingham,” he says. “We have a reputation for the strength in depth we offer to corporate clients without them having to go into the city.”

Ian Shovlin
Senior Partner
Higgs & Son