Newcastle law firm Clarke Mairs has grown steadily to become a mid-tier outfit (and are delighted to have retained that ranking once again) with a great reputation for insolvency and commercial work since its establishment just 11 years ago.

The principles upon which it was founded –top level, practical commercial expertise, easy access to key employees right up to partner level, and a quality of advice akin to the levels of much larger firms – still holds true today.

This is a firm that is punching above its weight with plans for continued organic expansion, but never at the expense of those founding principles, co-owner Susan Mairs told The Journal.

Mairs founded Clarke Mairs in October 2007 with fellow partners Tim Clarke and Paul Rushworth, the trio having previously worked together for a Newcastle law firm. One of the driving factors in establishing the firm was to develop a partner led commercial law firm and a dedicated, specialised insolvency team. While the firm has expanded its other service areas – company/commercial (with substantial experience in pharmacy transactions), commercial litigation, property and trust/estate planning – insolvency turnaround and commercial recovery remain vital cornerstones.

“We set up with the insolvency specialism very much at our core,” says Mairs, who, together with fellow partners Paul Rushworth and Fred Banning, have been named in the Legal 500 for their excellence within the insolvency discipline. “We had a good base of early clients who knew us from our previous firm and many of those clients are still with us today. We have a great record in retaining clients and that speaks for itself.”

Clarke Mairs, which currently has a workforce of 35, provides a complete commercial service to SMEs and corporate clients both within the North East and further afield, including a substantial amount of work in London. That includes working directly with commercial clients, insolvency practitioners and directors.

Asked about the key strengths of the practice, Mairs says: “We are very specialised and flexible, we’re very good at what we do, we work to understand clients and their needs and we’re very much partner-led because of our size. That’s important for the strength of the relationships we have with our clients. We don’t have the hierarchy you would find in most legal firms: our clients can pick up the phone any time and reach someone senior in the firm.”

Of her position as a Leading Individual for the third year running in the Legal 500, Mairs says that it is great to be recognised by peers and clients (which is a reflection of the team’s experience and hard work over the years) but stresses “you are only as good as your last job”. She adds: “You have to keep maintaining the highest standards and strive to get better every year. It’s great to be recognised but we don’t rest on our laurels.”

Mairs enjoys insolvency work, particularly getting involved at an early stage and providing good advice to client directors, being able to assist them in turning things around, or at least work towards achieving the very best outcomes that circumstances allow.

Asked about the challenge of finding a high standard of new employees as the firm expands, Mairs is very upbeat about Newcastle as a place from which to run and organically grow a law firm. She says: “The quality of people we interview from trainees to partners seems to be getting better all the time; the standard of legal services in Newcastle are very high. Newcastle is a great place to live and work and the business sector is thriving.”

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