"Our founding father, J F Latimer's practising career began in 1892 above a stationary shop on High Row, Darlington. A top regional legal mind, his impact on Darlington as a councillor, deputy mayor and visionary was profound.
In the early 1900s J F Latimer moved his office from High Row into newly built premises in Priestgate. The business still operates from, now enlarged, premises there.
In 1927 he took on the then recently qualified Charles Hinks and “Latimer & Hinks” was born.
J F Latimer died suddenly in 1937.
In 1953 the business merged with Wilkes, Wilkes, Marsham & Little (founded in 1881 by the two Wilkes brothers). Latimer Hinks Marsham & Little was born – the name of the firm which I joined in June 1976.
At that time, I was the first female Solicitor in the history of the firm and one of only three women practising in Darlington.
The core values and principles of professional, personal service and quality advice which have underpinned the culture of the business since 1892 are still very much the code observed today.
Our work continues to be driven by teamwork, skill, expertise and “going the extra mile”. We care – for our clients and for our people.
I have witnessed enormous change and the massive impact of technology. The legal services industry is today rightly performance driven with greater costs transparency.
Compliance and regulation are mandatory.
Clients are more demanding and better informed and expect (and secure) a higher level of availability from us as their advisers. Win their trust and confidence and win their loyalty – which is where we have succeeded in a competitive marketplace.
Much has been made in recent times of the gender (and prospects) gap at law firms and in business in general but I can say that I have only ever experienced sexism once during my forty-three year career in Darlington – a male client refused to deal with me because I was a woman.
Admittedly, initially I was treated as (and maybe was!) a novelty, introduced to Clients as “our new lady Solicitor”. But the Senior Partners for whom I originally worked were great mentors, whose practices were as different as their personalities, but both willed me to succeed and supported and promoted me. There was no special treatment.
I am genuinely delighted that as a solicitors’ practice we are leaders in promoting talented individuals regardless of gender, race, colour, creed. My stock reply to anyone enquiring as to how to progress on the promotion ladder is “make yourself indispensable.”
It is the norm and a very natural process for us to recruit and promote women – I received professional support and hope that I am perceived as providing support and mentoring.
Our professional retention record is I believe testament to that.
Of our fee earners, almost three-quarters are women.
So … in 2020 what is the Latimer Hinks of today and how does it differ from the 1892 practice of J F Latimer? In so many ways the profiles are so different but in so many ways the same.
Technology and progress have facilitated the means of provision of service excellence but at the heart and core of the business the principles of a professional, personal service, and a real sense of caring for the community and the clients, together with hard work and commitment, have stood the test of time.
We are extremely proud of our heritage and of our Darlington roots.
Our success and location are intrinsically linked but have not limited and are not limiting us geographically – our clients are based in the North, South, East and West – and abroad.
We focus on what we feel we do best – Property and Private Client work and partner with other top lawyers and other professionals to give clients the very best service we believe is available at realistic prices.
Go to the Testimonial Section to see what others say about us – and come and see us if you feel we can help you.”
Written by Anne Elliott (former Director and Company Chief Executive at Latimer Hinks and now consultant solicitor)