Law firm strengthens personal legal service

LAW firm *Ward Hadaway* is further strengthening its personal legal services to clients in Yorkshire.

Partner Paula Myers, who has particular expertise in the growing area of disputed wills and trusts, is transferring to the firm’s Leeds office to bolster Ward Hadaway’s expanding Private Client team.

Paula has over 13 years’ specialist experience in litigation matters, advising companies and individuals in a range of disputes and winning praise for providing what independent legal directory Legal 500 described as “honest, concise and refreshingly understandable advice”.

Over the past seven years, she has developed a niche practice in private wealth matters, particularly in the field of disputes, from Ward Hadaway’s Newcastle office.

Since the opening of the firm’s Leeds office in summer 2008, Paula has been advising Yorkshire clients on private wealth matters and is now moving to the Leeds office to head up this side of the practice.

Paula Myers said: _”I am delighted to be moving to Leeds full-time and to be able to offer my experience and expertise to clients across Yorkshire._

_”We already have a growing number of clients in the region and this move means I will be able to devote more time to build on the work and the successes we have already achieved in the private wealth field.”_

Paula’s experience and qualifications stand her in good stead when it comes to advising on the difficult yet expanding area of wills and trusts disputes.

She holds both an Advanced Certificate in Trusts Disputes from the Society of Trust and Estates Practitioners (STEP) and a diploma from the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Solicitors (ACTAPS) and is commended for her work by independent guides to the UK legal profession.

Figures show the number of disputes involving trusts, estates and inheritances are increasing.

In 2006, only 10 such cases were heard by the Chancery Division of the High Court but by 2009 this had risen to 110.

Latest statistics estimate that disputes are rising by 40% year on year with Ward Hadaway recently successfully concluding a case for a Yorkshire client following a contested trial in Leeds.

Paula said: _”This kind of service is increasingly in demand for a number of reasons, but such cases require very careful handling and call for specialist knowledge and expertise to be used._

_”As a result, there are very few law firms in the Yorkshire area who are willing and able to provide this service so we are pleased to be able to bring our expertise to bear and offer it to our clients across the county._

_”We are already dealing with a number of such cases in Yorkshire and we hope that we will be able to assist other people in what are often sensitive and complex situations.”_

A variety of factors are being cited for the growth in wills and trusts disputes.

Paula Myers explained: “Estates are rising in value, even taking into account the current economic climate, and the fact that for many people, money is in short supply, makes securing estates more important.

“Family arrangements are also becoming more complex in terms of second marriages, step-families, etc. and that can cause complications when a person dies as to how their estate is divided.

_”As average lifespans increase, mental capacity issues come to the fore, leading to arguments as to whether a person ‘meant’ for certain things to happen after their death._

_”Finally, people are becoming more prepared to fight their case and also hold people to account, leading to trustees being challenged more regularly on the way they have conducted their job._

_”All this means that solicitors who provide advice in this area really need to be switched on when it comes to how to handle such disputes.”_

Paula will also head up the commercial litigation departments for Ward Hadaway in both Leeds and Manchester.

In addition to her private wealth expertise, she is a qualified mediator and has over 13 years’ experience of handling commercial disputes, including professional negligence cases, partnership disputes, defamation claims, urgent injunctions and applications to court.

The commercial litigation team at Ward Hadaway is rated as one of the top tier teams in the country and has particular expertise in advising clients on the funding of cases, with knowledge of After The Event insurance and conditional fee arrangements.

Ward Hadaway has moved quickly to expand its personal legal services offering to the Yorkshire market this year.

In January, the firm recruited a three-strong Private Client team ““ Consultant Gordon Watson, Associate Andrew Evans and Assistant Solicitor Andrea Jones ““ in its Leeds office to offer a range of personal legal services, including particular expertise in trusts and tax planning issues.

And in February, leading private client lawyer Gaynor Jackson joined Ward Hadaway as a Partner, bringing over 20 years of experience in the field as well specialist expertise in advising leading national charities on trust and estates issues.

Paula Myers said: _”We have a fantastic team which can offer genuine expert advice to people across Yorkshire which we hope will help them to deal with a wide range of personal legal issues.”_

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