Firm profile: Lodders

Senior partner: David Lodder
Turnover: £5.5m
Total number of partners: 12
Total number of fee-earners: 50
Main practice areas: Agriculture, company and commercial, litigation, private client and residential conveyancing
Number of offices: Three
Location: Henley-in-Arden, Shipston-on-Stour and Stratford-upon-Avon

“We’re attracting key players out of the Birmingham legal market looking for that better lifestyle,” says David Lodder, senior partner of Warwickshire firm Lodders. The firm is best known for its agricultural property and landed estates department. Lodder himself has direct experience of land management as he owns a 150-acre pasture farm. He has recently taken over the mantle of senior partner from Nigel Phillips, and both lawyers are the third generation of their respective families to be involved with the firm, which is headquartered in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Lodders is currently busy advising clients on the single payment scheme of EU subsidies, which came into force on 1 January 2005 and which aims to simplify payments under the common agricultural policy, replacing the 13 subsidy schemes. “From a legal point of view, the single payment scheme has a great impact on farmers’ businesses and the restructuring required creates huge tensions within partnerships,” he says. “It’s a huge difference, as landowners are being funded for managing the countryside and being paid a small amount for doing that.” As he explains, the change “decouples” the link between farm subsidies and food production.

The firm is not just devoted to country pursuits – it recently acted for residents of two of London’s smartest garden squares, winning a High Court victory over ‘rat-runners’. Michael Orlik, a consultant with the firm and a highway law expert, represented residents living in Montpelier and Trevor Squares near Knightsbridge who claimed their lives were being made a misery by commuters taking shortcuts. Westminster Council had installed electronic barriers at the entrances to the squares which could be raised only by residents with a key. But after protests from taxi drivers, motoring groups and a neighbouring council, Westminster removed the barriers. Residents successfully challenged the decision. Orlik cites the case “as a good example of the range of specialist legal expertise available in the West Midlands”, adding: “It’s pleasing to be able to offer a service that’s not readily available in London.”

Agriculture and private client makes up around half of the workload for the firm’s 50 fee-earners, with residential conveyancing making up a further 20 per cent. Law Society president Kevin Martin is a consultant with the private client department. Lodders recently bought a 50 per cent stake in Self, a local financial advisory company. The firm ran an in-house financial advisory service for eight years, but Lodder says there was “trouble selling that concept” to clients more used to commission-based products. “Self has been an extremely good add-on,” he says. “The idea is to try and offer completely impartial financial advice to our clients.”

“We’ve had year-on-year growth for the last five years of about 12 per cent,” Lodder reports. “We’re keen on extending the perception of the firm into a wider marketplace, as in a place like Stratford you have to go out and about. We have the core business, which is the private client and property side; the plan is then to have add-on businesses to the core business, such as financial services.”