A Blackpool legal business is expanding after weathering the recession storm which has hit solicitors hard and enjoying a brilliant year.
Blackhurst Budd, which now employs 50 from its Edward Street base, is scouting for new premises and taking on new staff.
Managing director Warren Spencer, who has been with the firm for 25 years, said: “This year has been very successful for Blackhurst Budd. We have definitely seen the effects of the end of the recession which has been tough for many businesses.
“Around 2006-2007 the Government thinking was that big is beautiful. It thought there were too many small legal aid practices to deal with, it was too expensive and they did not want the manpower.
“Then, about 40 per cent of our work was legal aid work.
“There were four small practices in the area and I mooted the idea that we should all merge – John Budd and Co, Blackhurst, LSC Solicitor and Coope Pervis Taylor.
“The merger brought its own problems. We had 75 staff but we could not carry on as we were.
“I had been a partner for about a year then but had no real management experience but I was asked to do it for a while and it has worked out fine.
“We had to streamline and we decided to adopt the Law Society’s own model Lexel which we managed to achieve within 12 months.
“Then the recession hit. The turnover we had planned around was drastically reduced as property dealing fell away and then the Legal Aid changes came. Finally the Government took away legal aid for family law cases. We had to change our business model.
“We now focus more on commercial and private conveyancing, dispute resolution, probate and our legal aid work is down to around 20 per cent and next year will be around five per cent.
“We are looking at areas to expand including the fire safety law work we carry out for Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire Fire and Rescue.
“There is no question the country is coming out of recession. Throughout we have kept investing in marketing which many companies don’t do in a recession and we are reaping the benefits of that.
“We have taken on a new solicitor already this year but we are nearing the limit for space in this building.”
He said the ideal would be to stay in the town centre as they have historic and community ties.
These include sponsoring a successful football team, a netball team, Blackpool Operatic Society plus links to a karate club.
On Saturday a team of staff is set to walk 50 miles in 24 hours (Trek50) across the Penines to raise cash for MedEquip4Kids.