(L to R): Ison Harrison’s Richard Timperley, Jonathan Wearing, Dominic Mackenzi, Richard Coulthard, Sarah Laughey, Jenny Bland, Gareth Naylor and James Thompson.
Matthew Neville

Leading Yorkshire law firm transfers ownership to employees

One of Yorkshire’s largest law firms has become entirely owned by its employees after the three shareholder directors agreed to sell the business to an Employee Ownership Trust.

Ison Harrison, which has a network of 16 offices throughout the region, was founded in 1978 as S.C Harrison & Co, merging a decade later with Ison Driver & Furness, to form Ison Harrison. 43 years later it now employs more than 230 staff across Yorkshire and offers the “broadest suite of legal services” in the region.

The firm, which has an annual turnover of £16m, has become a well-known regional practice representing around 20,000 clients each year, the majority of whom live in the region.

The growth of the firm over the past decade has been primarily driven through the development of an extensive branch network with residential property, wills and probate and family work in particular taking the lead.

The last two years have seen the firm focus further on diversification by expanding its commercial offering substantially, to include corporate, litigation, employment, and commercial property for an ever-growing commercial client base.

Directors of the firm opted against a traditional business sale or merger options, choosing an employee ownership trust instead with the workforce now owning 100 per cent of the business.

Under the new ownership model, the management structure will comprise of eight directors with five new directors welcomed to the existing board including James Thompson, Gareth Naylor, Jenny Bland, Sarah Laughey, and Richard Coulthard.

Jonathan Wearing, who has been head of the firm for 15 years, remains managing director with Richard Timperley and Dominic Mackenzie, the other two shareholder directors, remaining as finance director and head of private client respectively.

Jonathan Wearing commented: “Richard, Dominic and I have enjoyed many successful years in growing the business and strengthening the firm’s footprint across Yorkshire but given our size we felt a new structure was necessary for us to continue to grow.

“By becoming an employee owned business and extending the breadth and reach of the Board we feel that we are really well set up for whatever the future holds. The move offers stability, continued job security for all of our dedicated staff and a platform for further growth.

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