A firm that has West Kent at its heart
Paul Reader, of Berry & Lamberts Solicitors, became Managing Partner at 43 – one of the youngest in Tunbridge Wells. Today, in the Times of Tunbridge Wells he tells us how both he and the firm have made their mark
Paul Reader has been a qualified solicitor for 18 years, is married, a father to two girls, and in his spare time enjoys playing guitar and basketball. He is the lead guitarist in Tunbridge Wells-based band Kharma & the Devil, who have headlined the Speldhurst fete, played as part of the Local & Live events, and regularly play in local pubs and music venues.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TIME AT BERRY & LAMBERTS
I started as a trainee, based in the Tunbridge Wells office. At the end of my training period I decided that I wanted to work as a Dispute Resolution solicitor. Once I qualified, I was moved to the firm’s Tonbridge office, and cut my teeth there for about eight years. It was my job to handle any cases that would come through the door; landlord and tenant work, contract disputes, harassment injunctions and employment cases. I got involved with the West Kent Chamber of Commerce and conducted lectures on employment law for their members. When I turned 30, the firm started to talk to me about partnership and heading up the Dispute Resolution team in our then Maidstone office. In that year I was made partner, got married and my wife became pregnant with our first child – it was incredibly hectic!
When the recession hit in 2008, we were forced to re-evaluate what was important to us as a firm. It was during this time that we came to the realisation that our roots were in West Kent, and that our standing in the community was key to our identity. As a result of this, I was transferred back to the Tunbridge Wells office in 2009 and have been based here ever since.
WHAT’S THE MAIN SPECIALITY OF THE FIRM?
Helping people at key points in their personal and professional lives. We provide the full range of legal services that you might require, and we want to supply those services whenever you need them. We assist in property transactions; preparing Wills and Powers of Attorney so that you can plan for your and your family’s future; buying and selling businesses; regulating relationships between business owners; relationship breakdowns; and criminal defence work. We work with many of our clients at significant points on their journey through life. As a firm, we understand that legal work is never just about documenting a set of circumstances, it often accompanies an emotional journey, which means we form close professional bonds with our clients. We create meaningful relationships that are beneficial for both parties.
‘We understand that legal work often accompanies an emotional journey’
HOW DOES YOUR FIRM SET ITSELF APART?
We have been in the local area for over 260 years and work as a team with our clients. Our specialist knowledge is an absolute given, and we pride ourselves in working alongside clients to help them achieve the results they seek. For more than 20 years now, Berry & Lamberts Solicitors has been a part of a group called LawNet. It is a national network of legal firms, with wide geographical and technical expertise spread out into a wide range of services. LawNet is a collective that not only enables independent law firms to pool together their resources, but also provides members with training, networking events and conferences. We are the only firm in Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge that is a part of LawNet.
WHY IS LAWNET IMPORTANT?
LawNet enables us to access so many more resources than your typical high street law firm. Being a member, which involves rigorous audits twice a year, is about improving quality and service and enables us to tap into even greater knowledge and discussions that we can pass on to our clients. We have access to high quality training, in both soft skills and legal skills, and receive regular feedback from clients through services that LawNet have provided to us which enable us to spot trends in our work and focus on where we can make the business run more smoothly. It’s quite an elite group as there are only just over 70 law firms nationwide that are currently with LawNet.
WHAT ARE THE FIRM’S PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
Our main focus is the continuing provision of quality legal services to the people of West Kent and the locality. We offer personalised service to our clients and I feel this is an area that we really excel at. We pride ourselves on being trusted and reliable advisors and our future plans aim to further consolidate this. We also need to look at embracing new technologies in order to assist our clients. At a recent LawNet conference, an idea that really inspired me was the possibility of running an app for our clients where they can check on the progress of their case without having to take the time out of their day to call their solicitor. Exploring these opportunities in technology so that our clients can contact us in a way that is efficient and convenient for them really excites us.
WILL BREXIT HAVE A BIG EFFECT ON BUSINESS FOR YOU AND YOUR CLIENTS?
Who knows what’s going to happen? After the initial referendum result, we certainly saw an anxiety within the property market as people halfway through their transactions were worrying whether they were going to be affected. Interestingly, at the moment property is the busiest it’s ever been. I think that for law firms, whatever happens, there’s always going to be legal work to be done. As for other businesses, they ultimately remain in a period of uncertainty. The effect of Brexit is dependent on the final deal (or no deal). I think it’s important that businesses look into who they’re buying goods or services from and making sure those contracts are robust enough to deal with any eventuality.
‘We pride ourselves on being trusted and reliable advisors’ Berry & Lamberts Solicitors have been an established firm in Tunbridge Wells for over 260 years. They serve individuals and businesses in the West Kent community, the South East and all over England and Wales. They also have offices in Tonbridge, Paddock Wood, Sevenoaks and Kings Hill.
01892 526344 • berryandlamberts.co.uk