This major West Country practice maintains an extensive geographical footprint across the region in order to place it conveniently close to its clients. The firm provides commercial services including mergers and acquisitions, property, site development, agricultural and other land matters and employment. Services for individuals include family law, personal injury (claimant), residential property, probate, trusts and tax planning. Innovative in its approach, the firm is often at the forefront of new developments and 2011 saw the launch of the firm’s cutting edge niche fertility and parenting practice, headed by internationally recognised solicitor, Louisa Ghevaert.
The firm: Porter Dodson was formed in May 1997 by the merger of two practices – Dodson Harding of Taunton and Wellington, with Porter Bartlett & Mayo of Yeovil and Sherborne. In May 1999 the firm further expanded through a merger with the Dorchester-based practice Lock, Reed & Lock. In 2010, the firm expanded its commercial teams through two mergers: Yeovil practice Batt Sanders & Bennett and Cornish firm Boase Bennetts & James. These mergers of firms of similar philosophy and with over 200 years’ experience make Porter Dodson one of the largest legal practices in the South West of England, offering clients a still greater level of expertise and specialisation. The firm is known for its professionalism and tenacity, as well as the loyalty of its client base.
Clients reflect the demographics and diversity of the region and a significant proportion come from further afield, notably London and the home counties. The fertility and parenting team has added an international dimension to the client base.
The firm’s philosophy is to provide corporate and individual clients with highly tailored legal solutions to help support and protect their interests effectively, conveniently and cost efficiently. The firm is willing to act as agent in family, debt and insolvency, and civil and general litigation matters.
Types of work undertaken: Company and commercial advice includes company formation, regulation and disposal, insolvency, partnerships, intellectual property and e-commerce as well as advising on start-ups, mergers and acquisitions. A range of commercial litigation is dealt with as well as debt collection, mediation and arbitration. Specialist sectors include charities, schools and GP/dental practices with services covering employment, property, partnership agreements and, in the case of schools, conversion to academy status.
Commercial property advice includes buying, selling and leasing. Site development work includes building agreements, planning and planning agreements, collateral warranties and infrastructure agreements. The firm handles property portfolio matters of all sizes and degrees of complexity. The firm provides advice and assistance on all issues concerning rural business, land and agriculture from accommodation for farm workers to zoning for planning, as well as land ownership, diversification, business structures, contracts with buyers and suppliers, grants, quotas.
The family department has expanded considerably in recent years, such that it is now the largest in the region, with a particularly strong child care reputation. In addition to the highly innovative niche fertility and parenting practice, the services offered by the team has been further augmented by Ellen Saunders, a well respected barrister specialising in family and childcare matters.
The firm’s proactive approach includes a complete package of employment advice. In addition to standard contract drafting, redundancy advice, business re-organisations etc they also offer ‘audits’ of existing employment contracts and HR systems with recommendations for change and improvement to minimise the risk of subsequent issues.
The firm has an enviable tradition for dealing with the private legal matters of families from generation to generation and new clients can be assured they will receive the same quality of service and support for them and their children. They are keen to remove the barriers between different areas of law in order to look after their clients’ needs whether relating to family and matrimonial law, property purchase/sale, IHT planning, asset protection, trusts, will drafting or estate administration.
Porter Dodson aims to further expand its premium private client services and develop its commercial client base as well as expand its geographical footprint.
Other offices: Dorchester, Sherborne (Dorset), Taunton, Wellington (Somerset)
Breakdown of work %
Probate trust and tax – private clients 26
Residential property 19
Dispute resolution – private and commercial clients 23
Commercial company and property 12
Matrimonial and children 20
Number of UK Partners 25
Number of other UK fee-earners 47
Above material supplied by Porter Dodson.