Legal firms join forces in merger

Andrew Crabtree, director at Wilkinson Woodward; Maureen Cawthorn, managing director at Wilkinson Woodward; Richard Smithies, partner at Bearders
Andrew Crabtree, director at Wilkinson Woodward; Maureen Cawthorn, managing director at Wilkinson Woodward; Richard Smithies, partner at Bearders

One of Brighouse’s best-known solicitors’ firms is to join forces with a leading West Yorkshire legal practice.

Bearder’s Solicitors, of King Street, Brighouse, and Northgate, Halifax, has announced plans to merge with law firm Wilkinson Woodward, which has offices in Halifax and Huddersfield.

The move, which is part of Wilkinson Woodward’s continuing plans to expand in Calderdale, brings the number of people employed by the gorwing legal practice to more than 80.

Richard Smithies, senior partner at Bearders, said: “Bearder’s has been providing legal services to communities across Calderdale for almost a century.

“Through our new relationship with Wilkinson Woodward, we look forward to continuing our tradition of trusted service for generations to come.”

Maureen Cawthorn, managing director of Wilkinson Woodward, said: “Like Wilkinson Woodward, Bearder’s is a long-established legal practice with a reputation built on trust and exceptional service. We are delighted to welcome them to the fold.”

Bearders was established in 1920 in Halifax by Harold Bearder. In 1946 he was joined by his son, John Alfred Bearder, the solicitor and philanthropist, and in 1977, solicitor Richard Smithies opened the Bearder’s office in King Street.

In 1992, using personal funds, John Bearder set up a charity to benefit the people of Calderdale, supporting individual and community projects across the Calder Valley.

Today the Bearder Charity is based at the King Street, Brighouse, premises and Wilkinson Woodward will continue to operate it from there.

The Bearder Charity awards around £120,000 in grants every year. The grants support a wide range of projects including the largest annual poetry festival for primary schools in the UK.

Staff in the Brighouse charity will continue to operate from their premises in King Street under the name Wilkinson Woodward Bearders while the team based in Halifax will move to Wilkinson Woodward’s offices in Fountain Street, Halifax, later this month.