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Going it alone

From a converted cobbler's shop in Leeds to opening a third office in central London, Marilyn Stowe’s practice has come a long way in 30 years – but it hasn’t always been an easy ride, she explains as she celebrates her firm's anniversary

14 November 2011

Ours isn’t the biggest law firm out there but, even so, I’m incredibly proud – not to mention a little incredulous – whenever I consider how far we have come from inauspicious beginnings. Next year marks the opening of our third office, in central London, and also our 30th anniversary.

As so many founders of law firms have discovered before me, there is a world of difference between being a good lawyer and running a successful practice. Although the past 30 years haven’t always been a smooth ride, I wouldn’t swap them and I’d like to share some of what I have learned along the way.

The first office opened in 1982, in a converted cobbler’s shop in a modest suburb of Leeds. My husband, also a solicitor, had the idea for me to ‘branch out’. The area he chose had the city’s densest conurbation of both private and council housing, and a good mix of conveyancing and legal aid work was expected. With a secretary for company, I opened for business.

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