Bristol Life interview Hugh Balchin, Senior Partner at Burroughs Day SolicitorsJune 19, 2017
Hugh Balchin, Senior Partner at Bristol and Portishead based law firm Burroughs Day, started at the firm in 1993. Over the years he’s seen a lot of change as the firm has grown, but recently that change included a major rebrand and leaving the QualitySolicitors network, of which it was a founding member seven years ago. Hugh talks to Deri Robins, editor at Bristol Life magazine, about the rich heritage of the 180-year old firm and its future direction post-independence.
Tell us a bit about your role at Burroughs Day?
I am Senior Partner in the firm. This means I provide leadership and guidance to partners and staff on the direction of the firm, by establishing our goals and overseeing the management of the firm.
I am also a lawyer and specialise in injury claims, where I advise people on how best to deal with the consequences of an injury. Whether the injury was sustained in a work environment or in a public setting, such as a public car park, shop or city centre, I support clients to receive compensation, allowing them to move on with their life as far as possible following the injury.
And I know the company has a great history in Bristol. Tell us a bit more.
The firm has been around since 1829, when Mr Burroughs set up shop at 1 The Mall, Clifton. Many Bristol residents will remember us at our offices in Charlotte Street (just off Park Street) where we were based from the 1970s until recently. In January 2016 we moved to more open-plan, modern and newly refurbished offices at Queen Square House in Bristol’s historic Queen Square.
What areas of the law do you specialise in?
Personally I specialise in Industrial Disease and Accident at Work injuries, but we are a full service law firm offering a range of services for individuals and businesses – from buying and selling your home to buying and selling a business, making a Will, getting a divorce, employing members of staff – it really covers an extensive range of expert legal advice.
What qualities do you think you need most in your role?
As senior partner, the qualities I try to develop in myself include vision, patience, optimism and positivity. We have a great management team here who work very well and closely together so it is not all down to me. There is also a need for determination to follow through with decisions even though their implementation may be difficult.
Brexit will doubtless have a lot of impact on UK law – how will it affect you directly?
For my own practice area, Health & Safety legislation has been greatly enhanced by regulations that have had to be adopted from Europe. I would hope that these will not be affected by Brexit as they are now so ingrained. Firm-wide, we saw some commercial and commercial property deals stall slightly as business got cold feet after the Brexit vote. This seems to be wearing off now.
What do you like about working in Bristol?
I have been here for nearly 25 years. The city has changed enormously in that time and in doing so has asserted itself more economically and culturally. It has so much to offer in the city itself but it’s also easy to get out of to take advantage of the countryside and sea. It is a friendly, multicultural, vibrant and ever changing place. As someone who enjoys their food, the change in recent years has been enormous. Be it the food festivals, Bristol roasted coffee, artisan bakers or ice cream it all seems to be happening, not to mention all of the excellent restaurants and street food places we have now – and all in very close proximity to our Queen Square office.
I hear you have recently had some change to the firm with a move to Queen Square and the decision to become independent again. Could you tell us a bit more about the motives for both moves?
From 2010 - 2017 we were part of the QualitySolicitors network, a national brand, in which we were a founder partner firm.
Last year we decided that the time was right for Burroughs Day to build on its own long-established, excellent reputation in the West Country, rather than being part of a national network, so from May this year we rebranded as Burroughs Day LLP.
The firm’s makeover reflects both its rich history and its modern approach to making legal services more accessible. The timing coincided with our move to modern offices in a historic Grade II listed building in Queen Square.
We have always been client-centred and independent. Our new brand reflects and embraces those long-held values. This is an exciting new chapter for our partners, staff and clients. They will benefit from the dynamism and innovation that we have within the firm.
As a founder member of QualitySolicitors, we helped drive client-friendly initiatives such as more accessible opening hours and transparency on fees. Burroughs Day is still committed to improving the delivery of legal services, and will continue to develop this.
For our clients it is very much business as usual. The feedback about our new brand has been overwhelmingly positive.
What's the biggest misconception you encounter about your line of work?
That personal injury lawyers pile ‘em high and sell them cheap. This is not the ethos in the specialist teams we have within our Injury Claims department. We care about getting the best deal/compensation for our clients. Our client feedback is a shining example of the understanding and on-going support we provide.
See the interview in Bristol Life magazine here.