We’re pushing the definition of Small Business Spotlight with this one, but everyone had to start somewhere! Laura Kurowski, Commercial Solicitor and Director at Wilkinson Woodward Solicitors gave us some insight into the business.
Can you introduce your business in 10 words or less?
Trusted legal expertise since 1886.
How long has your business been running, and what drove you to start it?
The practice was founded in 1886 by local solicitor Robert Wilkinson so we’ve been serving the local community for over 130 years – since Penny Farthings ruled the roads! Since then, we’re proud to have evolved into one of West Yorkshire’s most established and trusted legal practices. Despite huge changes in the world of business, we remain fiercely independent and our ethos and values are much the same as they were in 1886 – to provide affordable, expert legal advice to local people and local businesses.
Where is your business based, and what led you to choose to be based there?
We have offices in Huddersfield, Brighouse, and Halifax; these are the towns are where many of our clients live and work so we want to be able to deliver a service that’s right on their doorstep. Most of our staff also live locally and we have close, long-standing ties with several local charities including Overgate Hospice, The Next Step Trust, and The RSPCA. Kirklees and Calderdale will always be at the heart of our business.
What are your most popular items/services? Why do you think this is popular with customers?
People choose us for many reasons, often when they are moving home, writing their Will, or want to resolve a dispute. Many local businesses choose us when they are expanding, moving to new premises or need help buying or selling a business.
Since the start of the pandemic, our Residential Property team has been particularly busy, as the stamp duty holiday and the need for home office space have created an explosion in demand for residential property.
I think our services are in high demand because clients know we are a safe pair of hands; that’s why so much of our work comes from recommendations.
Do you have any employees?
We have a team of over thirty lawyers and seventy support staff spread across our three offices. Some of our team are extremely experienced and have been with us for decades whilst others are newly qualified and bring a fresh approach; it’s this blend of experience we hope will ensure we’re still around in another 130 years!
Our business also incorporates Boococks Estate and Lettings Agency in Halifax – they are also really busy people at the moment!
What’s your favourite job/task that you do as part of your business, and why?
My own specialisms are property and company/ commercial law so I help businesses with things like buying and selling commercial property, as well as buying, selling, starting up, winding down or investing in a business. It’s hugely rewarding because I often get to see local businesses flourish, which means a stronger local economy and more employment opportunities for local people. With the Huddersfield Blueprint set to transform parts of the town centre, it’s an exciting time for everyone who lives and works in Huddersfield.
What impact has the pandemic/lockdown had on your business? Would you carry on with any of your new ways of working even when things are back to normal?
Like many businesses, we’ve been on a steep learning curve; where we used to see clients face to face, we now use video conferencing. Thankfully our IT systems are pretty sophisticated and can be accessed remotely, which was very important when we were all working from home.
Whilst the pandemic has had devastating consequences for many, one positive outcome for us has been the swift adaptation to remote working – that’s something we will retain; it’s become our ‘new normal’.
Where do you see yourself/your business in 5 years?
I joined Wilkinson Woodward fourteen years ago and plan to still be here in another twenty years. Our long-term plans are to continue to expand in Kirklees and Calderdale.
What piece of advice would you give to someone thinking of starting their own business?
Do your research, make sure you understand cash flow, and always be open to advice from others.
Anything else you’d like to add?