“Massively busy” ABS plans further growth

Holden Smith: (l-r) James Smith, Dave Bancroft and Jamie Megson

An alternative business structure which launched as a specialist conveyancing firm with three staff in March 2019 is aiming to hit 50 staff across a range of practice areas by the end of 2021.

James Smith, co-founder of Holden Smith, told Legal Futures that, despite the lockdowns, the firm had experienced “record month after record month” this year.

The firm was set up in Huddersfield by James Smith and Dave Bancroft – previously lawyer and non-lawyer partners respectively at Yorkshire firm Ison Harrison – and financial adviser Jamie Megson, who provides his services as a separate business.

It opened a second office in Leeds in June this year and a third in Elland, near Halifax, in August, while it has added private client, commercial property and commercial litigation departments.

Mr Smith said Holden Smith was now planning, “hopefully next year”, to expand into family law.

“We’re in the community so we often end up not doing work offered to us because it is not something that we do.”

Like private client work, which had been “buoyant” as people sought to get their financial affairs in order during the pandemic, Mr Smith said there had been a “spike” in demand for family law as couples struggled with the stress of lockdown.

The solicitor said one of the main obstacles to the firm’s growth was the difficulty of planning in a world where “nobody knows what is round the corner”.

He said the temporary increase in the threshold for stamp duty to £500,000 introduced this summer had certainly boosted the property market but activity could drop early next year, as the end of the ‘holiday’ approached.

Another obstacle encountered by Holden Smith was the reluctance of good staff to leave their existing firms because of the insecurity created by the pandemic.

However, Mr Smith said he was confident that the law firm’s turnover, which has reached £1.4m as the firm’s financial year comes to an end, would exceed £2m in 2021.

He said the law firm, which already did plenty of conveyancing work in the North West and South East, might consider expanding beyond Yorkshire, where new offices in Sheffield and York were possible, to Manchester.

“Who knows what the future holds? Our firm has had a really good year. We’re going to keep being positive and embracing the opportunities that come up.”

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