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Business & Economy

Foundations for the Future at Sweeney Miller Law

With a commitment to maintaining its ongoing growth trajectory, Sweeney Miller Law’s Jess Fenwick and Damien Todd join Surbhi Vedhara as Equity Partners, whilst founder Paul Miller steps into a training and business development consultancy role at the firm.

Reaping the rewards for its resilience and delivery of exceptional client service despite the pandemic, the firm has seen an increase in instructions across its key practice areas supporting both businesses and individuals in conveyancing, commercial property, company and commercial, family law, dispute resolution, private client and landlord and tenant.

Jess and Damien’s promotion lays a solid foundation for continued growth and reflects the firm’s commitment to the career progression of its team. Like Surbhi, Jess and Damien started life at the firm as paralegals, then became trainee solicitors, qualifying and ultimately reaching the pinnacle of becoming Equity Partners. This pathway demonstrates the opportunity for members of the team to achieve their goals and the absence of ‘glass ceilings’ which many ambitious lawyers face in their careers.

Understanding that its team are its greatest asset, another example of the firm’s future focus is the development of its own bespoke inhouse training programme. This has been designed to provide school leavers and graduates with structured, vocational based learning ensuring consistency in service standards, procedures, communication skills, administration, technical expertise, as well as embedding the core values of the firm – ‘the Sweeney Miller Way’. 23 members of staff are currently undergoing the programme which was Paul’s innovation that he will continue to build in his new role.

The firm’s head count has increased by 15% in the last 3 years reaching nearly 75, and with a strategic commitment to scaling the business, its pipeline of future talent currently includes 5 trainee solicitors, 6 apprentices and 23 paralegals.

Commenting on the new partnership structure, head of Commercial and Commercial Property, Jess said:

‘I am very excited about the future opportunities for the partnership. We are ready to take the firm to the next level and build upon the incredibly strong base that previous partners have put in place.  Paul and Surbhi have created solid foundations and a growing reputation with business and private clients alike. The new partnership gives us the opportunity to expand this reputation through the continued provision of first-class legal services delivered with exceptional client care and relationships.

‘Since joining the firm I have witnessed the reward given to those who are loyal and hardworking by the firm’s readiness to promote and appoint from within. Damien and I are beneficiaries of this policy, and we are ready to continue this practice as a central part of our ethos.’

Damien, who heads the firm’s Conveyancing team and is Secretary of Sunderland Law Society, added:

‘I am privileged to become an Equity Partner in Sweeney Miller. This has been my ambition since I qualified, and I am extremely grateful to my colleagues, friends, and family for helping me reach this milestone. I am fully committed to the continued service delivery of exceptional client care which is at the core of our business model. We have created a vibrant professional firm with a strong foothold in the Northeast and long may it continue. I am extremely excited about where we can take Sweeney Miller and what the long-term future holds.’

Sweeney Miller Law was established in Sunderland by Paul in 2002 with a second office opening in Newcastle in 2014 to service increased client demand. As well as working with clients in the North, the firm is instructed by individuals and businesses from across the UK, including London. The firm’s focus on service excellence and growing reputation has helped to attract recent instructions involving large commercial landlords, including PLCs, extensive property development projects, business sales, acquisitions, mergers and management buyouts, as well as exceptional growth in domestic conveyancing, private client and family work. This increased activity has resulted in a 25% uptick in turnover in the firm’s latest financial year.

Through years of client facing experience, the team understands that most SMEs have limited options – they can instruct large national firms with higher fees, or they can use a local high street firm that may not have the necessary expertise. Sweeney Miller fills that void by providing affordable, pragmatic and quality legal services. Busy with their ‘day job’, business clients appreciate the firm’s tailored and partner- led approach, avoiding the cumbersome processes of some of its larger counterparts.

Reflecting on the rapid growth of the firm, Managing Partner Surbhi said:

‘Paul and I have been blessed with an exceptional staff group who all deserve our thanks for their loyalty and dedication. Paul has steered the firm to its current position in which it enjoys a regional and national reputation. However, we always knew this day would come and Jess and Damien are ready to step up and take the mantle forward. Paul’s absence will be felt around the office, but I look forward to the working with the new Senior Management Team in the next phase for the firm. Paul will remain as a Consultant concentrating on the training and development of the next generation of staff and thus ensuring our continued strength in depth.’

In response to his new challenge ahead, Paul commented:

‘It is with mixed feelings that I step down from my position. I have thoroughly enjoyed my 18 years building the firm, from its inception, with Peter Sweeney to where it is at now. The past 8 years, with Surbhi have seen significant growth (with a few challenges along the way). I have been blessed with unbelievable staff of whom I can’t speak more highly. The firm is in safe hands, and I look forward to my training & business development role to ensure our reputation continues to grow.’

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