Ridley & Hall – 90 years of success locally and nationally, Nigel Priestley Senior Partner says…
I started at Ridley & Hall in 1978 when the firm was continuing its traditional role as a Conveyancing and Probate firm. For 50 years it had successfully served families in Huddersfield, buying and selling houses, making wills and sorting out their estates. As I joined, the partners decided the firm had to change.
They decided that it was time to start doing litigation – divorce, child care, personal injury claims and building and boundary disputes. It was an exciting time – suddenly criminals started appearing in the waiting room. We did anything to do with court. It was a major culture shock to many of the staff and at the time we were only a small team. We were on the first floor above the Nat West and played table tennis on the top floor at lunchtime on the Bank’s tables. No working through lunch.
Our next big change came when we had the opportunity to move to the Second floor above the Nat West. This was a major move and gradually the firm grew.
Our next move was to offices in Dundas Street. By this stage the court work included representing clients charged with murder and the excitement of a trip to Pakistan to try and obtain the return of 2 children snatched illegally by their father.
At the time the Dundas Street offices seemed huge to me and extra office space previously occupied by an insurance company was spurned. But the firm kept on growing – and getting younger. New specialisms were developed and experts joined the firm. At this point we gained an expertise in the complex personal injury area of Head Injury. As a result some huge settlements were achieved for our clients arising out of injuries at birth or road accidents and our reputation grew.
Ridley & Hall determined to be the voice of those not being heard and this led to pioneering work in Community Care, Education Law and Benefits Advice. We learnt how to do Judicial Reviews – much to the dismay of local authorities across the country. My personal involvement in Child Care work and my subsequently being joined by other leading experts in this field have resulted in Ridley & Hall becoming the leading firm in the country dealing with the rights of grandparents and kinship Carers. Key judgements in cases brought by the firm changed the lives of Carers across the country.
All the time the firm was growing – new offices were needed because of new additions to the Conveyancing and Private Client departments. Commercial property was developed. We looked at Queens House which has a distinguished history but had been empty for 10 years. Ridley & Hall gave it new life. With the addition of Drabble and Co, Ludgate’s and Michael George and Co, the staff numbers grew to over 50. And so did the need for extra office space.
I am a firm believer that Law firms can never stand still. Ridley & Hall has won many awards over the past 10 years and it has recently added key members from a national firm to the existing keen young team – all committed to continue taking the firm forward.
Over 90 years solicitors firms have come and gone. I am very proud to have served my career at Ridley & Hall, which is celebrating having an outstanding record of service to the people of Huddersfield – and across England and Wales. It has been my privilege to play a key role in the development of the firm over the last 39 years and having secured future investment and expertise I can’t wait to see what happens next.