By coincidence it is not only Berwins’ 30th anniversary this year but also my 30th anniversary of practising in Harrogate. In fact, I arrived a few months before Paul and joined the firm of Myers & Co, that firm subsequently merging with Berwins in 2002.
A lot has changed in the 30 years since I arrived. Technology has, of course, come on apace and the internet was not even a pipe dream at the time I came to Harrogate. Whilst my firm used electronic typewriters it still had an old manual one or two “just in case”. Anyone remember changing ribbons? Computers were then very basic and the pace of life was definitely slower. Nowadays, if an email is not responded to within a few hours clients can get concerned. Back then, you sent a letter to a client which took a day or two to arrive and they responded, usually by letter, taking another day or two for the response to come. Whilst things did not get done quite as quickly as they might be now, there was at least time to reflect and consider carefully the course of action that was being taken or advised.
It was a more trusting world as well. Conveyancing completions did not take place electronically but rather conveyancing solicitors used to meet up on completion days and hand over cheques and bundles of deeds (no risk of cybercrime). This perhaps seems rather quaint nowadays but what it did do was foster professional relationships which meant there was a good chance you actually knew the person that you were dealing with on the other side. It was very social, as opposed to social media!
When I arrived in Harrogate, I was taken round and introduced to all of the local building society and bank managers. Back in 1986 bank and building society managers really were “managers”. In fact, many of the bank and building society managers used to visit our office regularly for a chat and a coffee to see how we could mutually work together. No one has time for that now….
Legal Aid was still available to all who qualified and access to justice was certainly much much easier. The Courts were there to serve the public rather than as it seems now, to try and raise revenue for HM Treasury.
So a lot has changed. It does not always change for the better but change is a constant theme in any walk of life and if I have learnt one thing over the past 30 years it is this. If you do not change with the times and take advantage of what new technologies bring, you will be left behind. Any firm, however well established and however good their reputation, must evolve with the times and be constantly looking to improve and alter the way that it operates and delivers their service. That is something that we at Berwins do and will continue to do as we strive to be at the forefront of the local legal market – and what changes will the next 30 years bring?
Written by Stephen Root of Berwins Solicitors.