New offices fit for the future of successful law firm
Around 200 clients, staff, suppliers, friends and partners gathered at Hughes Solicitors’ new offices in Heathfield High Street for a stylish ‘office warming’.
The celebration marked the completion of a major refurbishment which involved turning the former NatWest Bank into the headquarters and offices for the law firm and its 19-strong team.
With the growth of the firm and with the headcount of lawyers increasing from two lawyers and two secretaries to eight lawyers and 11 support staff, by 2016 it was apparent more space was needed than was available in the former offices by the roundabout in Heathfield.
In late 2018, the opportunity to buy the former bank was seized by the partners. The building was completely refurbished over nine months during 2019 to provide the highest levels of connected IT, excellent working environments for all members of staff, proper training facilities and a range of improved meeting rooms, along with disabled access and private car parking.
For the celebrations a marquee was erected on the car park at the rear of the building and guests were treated to tours of the premises, canapes from Horam-based Food Glorious Food and prosecco while they mingled and listened to speeches by the partners.
Co-founder Rod Hughes admitted that, as well as the office opening, January 2020 was a particularly significant month for him as it is 40 years since he took on his first case as a qualified solicitor.
He said: “I work with a tremendous bunch and I am so pleased to have such a great team of lawyers and support staff. We’re delighted to be based in Heathfield and be part of the community and we hope our investment in the new premises shows our long-term commitment to providing services in the town. Although we have been established for a long time, we are a practice that moves with the times and it’s only by bringing in young lawyers that we can do that. Most importantly, we never forget that our clients have a choice.”
At the event was John Cudd who gave Rod his first case. “Forty years ago John walked into my office and asked whether I would do some property development work for him. It was the day after I qualified and we ended up working together for another 20 years and have stayed in touch,” Rod explained.
Also celebrating with the Hughes team was Chris Lawson of Lawson Commercial who negotiated and secured the property. He said: “There was a huge amount of interest and the sale went into a ‘best bid’ situation with three front runners all wanting to occupy the building so it was a bit nerve wracking. We were all really pleased when Hughes’ bid was accepted.
“I have known Rod for 30 years and he involved me from the start. It’s a competitive market and the demand for freehold property is very high because you have full control over the building and don’t have to pay rent. You also have an asset base.”
Hughes Solicitors started life in April 2009 as H & R Hughes Solicitors LLP borne out of a wish by its founders, Hilary and Rod Hughes, to continue to provide the range of legal services in which they specialised to their existing clients, new clients and friends in a really personal way, and of the highest possible standards.
From beginnings in Hailsham, the firm moved rapidly on in the first 12 months by relocating to first-floor offices over Wood and Pilcher in Heathfield – the town where Hilary had worked for the preceding 30 years. The firm was then lucky enough to acquire a connecting ground- floor reception and extra offices, which served the practice well over the following nine years.
Hughes Solicitors focus is on advising private clients on their legal affairs, including:
- moving home or buy-to-let investments;
- property development;
- making a will, power of attorney, and inheritance planning;
- probate and estate administration; and
- care of the elderly and management of their affairs in later life.
Hughes Solicitors has built its reputation on the quality of advice and the personal service. As a result, many new clients are gained through word of mouth and recommendation by clients or professional advisers.
The opening of the new offices also marked a change in the trading name of the firm , by the dropping of the ‘H&R’ so the firm is now called simply ‘Hughes Solicitors’ – recognition that the firm is so much more now than just its two founders and acknowledges the major parts played in the running of the firm by all its other partners