Hull practice becomes one of largest employee-owned firms to date

Hudgell: Retaining culture and ethos

Hull-based Hudgell Solicitors has become one of the largest law firms to date to become employee owned, after founder Neil Hudgell decided to transfer the majority of shares to an employee ownership trust.

Founded in 1997, Hudgell is now a £12m business with around 125 staff specialising in personal injury, clinical negligence, civil liberties and group actions.

Mr Hudgell said he wanted to “embrace the talent” within the business, to “give something back” and to protect its long-term future.

Employees will collectively acquire the majority stake in the business as a group, held on trust, enabling them to become involved in the firm’s decision-making, strategy and direction moving forward, as well as benefitting from future profits.

Mr Hudgell will remain active, but said the time was right to give staff a “direct voice in the management and ownership of the business and its future”.

He said: “Reaching the milestone of 25 years in business resonated with me more than I anticipated it might do, and having reached the age that I have, I turned my mind to the future.

“There are many law businesses that have been around 50 and 100 years, so my mind now is to create a bit of a legacy. The best way to do that, and protect the long-term future of the firm, is by embracing the talent we have in the business, elevating that and giving them more of a direct voice in the management and ownership of the business for the future.

“This will also ensure we retain the culture and ethos of the business, and provide continuity for our team and our clients.”

Mr Hudgell said the transfer would take place over “a measured, quite considerable period of time”. He explained: “I don’t see my role and involvement changing for five years or more, I still have the energy and passion for what I do, I still enjoy the work and I still enjoy the people, that’s not changed. This is all about the next 25 years and beyond.

“My real driver is to encourage and reward the people in the business who have energy and ideas, and with the drive to become more prominent leaders within the business.

“I want to invest in the people that have helped us achieve what we have achieved so far. It’s time to give them something back.”

Mr Hudgell will remain on the senior executive team alongside chief executive Rachel Di Clemente and the rest of the executive management team.

Ms Di Clemente said: “It is business as usual, but going forward people will have more opportunity to become involved in the journey we are now on. Even though it already feels that way, it will now be our people’s business, not just Neil’s, and that is very positive.”

There has been a steady trickle of law firms becoming employee owned over the past 18 months. We reported last month that staff at Chester law firm Oliver & Co, which became 100% employee-owned in November 2022, have so far received two tax-free bonus payments as a result.

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