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3 things 2020 has taught us

In the final article in the series ‘Inspiring Growth’ Greg Wright of the Yorkshire Post talks to Ward Hadaway's Leeds based team about what they’ve learned from the most unpredictable year in business.

“We are fortunate here at Ward Hadaway to work with a diverse range of organisations across the Yorkshire region,” says executive partner John Murray. “They come in all shapes and sizes, from the private, public and third sectors, and they need an array of different types of legal support.

“However, despite their differences, throughout this most unpredictable and challenging of years, we have seen some commonalities and themes emerging that tell us a lot about the characteristics and winning strategies that the most successful and progressive organisations in Yorkshire have deployed. And not only that, we’ve learnt a great deal about ourselves as a business. As the year draws to an end, it is interesting to reflect on the successful strategies we – and our clients – have implemented as we all continue to weather the storm.”

1.     Collaborate and provide clarity

Emma Digby, commercial dispute resolution partner continues, “We recognised early in the pandemic that what businesses needed was clarity around complex subjects they were unlikely to have ever dealt with before. ‘Furlough’, ‘CBILS’, ‘when can I invoke force majeure’ – these are terms and questions we’re now familiar with, but back in March, for the majority of business leaders, they were new or untested and people didn’t know how they could be used to support their organisation.

“So quickly, we provided clarity. We set up a comprehensive online coronavirus business FAQ hub and we shared the answers to over 500 frequently asked questions, all for free – so businesses could get to grips with their options and act upon that knowledge. We continued to share insights through hosting webinars, producing podcasts, sharing debates and information from guest speakers. The information helped businesses stay ahead of the curve. We wanted to add value and collaborate to help leaders understand more clearly the problems they were facing and the solutions they had to hand.”

2. Remain positive, even in the face of challenges

Ian McCombie, a partner also in the commercial dispute resolution team, says, “Positivity has also been vital. We recognised that this wasn’t – and isn’t – a great point in history for many businesses, but we have tackled the work for our clients with drive, energy and agility, finding solutions to complex issues. It wasn’t always easy, but our team supported each other and remained upbeat and outward-facing.

“It’s also important to keep moving forwards. The pandemic has not thrown us off our strategic plan to add breadth and depth to the integrated team here in Leeds. We’ve pressed ahead with our growth plans, despite the pandemic and have made a number of key appointments and promotions.

We have added experienced resource to each of our corporate, commercial dispute resolution, insolvency and children teams, and brought new practice areas to the office. New partners Adrian Ballam, Jonathan Pollard, Emma Digby and Stephen Lewis have joined the firm in the past year, alongside associates Sarah Macauley, Neil Armitage, Nev Zaki and Elish Porter, and solicitor Sophie Fox. Further recruitment is planned to increase the strength and depth of our teams and ensure we continue to deliver responsive, expert, bespoke legal solutions to our clients when they need us most.

3. Take a client-centred approach

Continuing, Jonathan Pollard, a Partner in the Corporate team, adds, “Our client-centred approach has been key to success, and I think that is something all businesses can relate to. Our integrated  ‘one team’ approach enables us to support the wide-ranging legal requirements of our clients. For example a client may have an issue with a property contract, but we can support them with any additional requirements such as change of use permissions and access to finance and investment. We’ve always taken a holistic approach but in 2020 that has been more important than ever.”

John Murray continues, “Sadly 2020 meant the annual Fastest 50 Awards – a firm fixture in the annual calendar for Yorkshire businesses – had to be cancelled. 2021 is unlikely to bring the glittering ‘in-person’ ceremony we’re familiar with, but we will be celebrating and revealing the Fastest 50 list in an alternative format.

“It would be easy to batten down the hatches and shelve the Fastest 50 until we reach the other side of the global pandemic. But the awards reflect the entrepreneurial spirit, the energy and ‘can do’ attitude of so many in our business community, that to suspend them would be a huge disservice to those companies that contribute so much to our regional success.”

So watch this space early next year, as our Yorkshire region comes back fighting, and the Fastest 50 companies take flight once more.

A version of this article originally appeared in The Yorkshire Post on 10 December 2020.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

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John Murray

Partner | Built Environment

+44 (0) 330 137 3113

+44 (0)790 049 4700

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Emma Digby

Partner | Commercial Litigation

+44 (0) 330 137 3308

+44 (0) 774 040 5743

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Ian McCombie

Partner | Commercial Litigation

+44 (0) 330 137 3316

+44 (0)7720 295 270

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Jonathan Pollard

Partner | Corporate

+44 (0) 330 137 3624

+44 (0) 782 446 0319

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