Getting to know Mark Hirst as featured in The Messenger

Senior Partner Mark Hirst

How long has your firm been in existence?

Bromleys has been servicing the community of Ashton-under-Lyne and Tameside for over 175 years. We were formerly known as Bromley Hyde & Robinson.

Have you merged with any other firm?

There have been mergers with other firms in the past, but in the 21st century we have grown organically to our current size. We would always consider potential mergers which would strengthen our offering.

What type of legal services do you offer?

We offer the range of traditional services, and we have dedicated experts in all of our teams.

For our commercial and business clients, we provide the full range of commercial services. These include corporate transactional advice, commercial documents and agreements, contentious and non-contentious employment advice, debt collection, credit control and dispute resolution, corporate recovery and insolvency advice, services in relation to business properties and advice regarding pension funds and investments.

For our individual clients, we provide advice on most of the matters with which they will need assistance throughout their lives.  We have one of the largest teams in Greater Manchester providing children’s services in the context of care proceedings, and a separate, dedicated team dealing with all aspects of divorce and relationship breakdowns.

In addition, we handle personal injury claims of all types, conveyancing and property matters, employment cases, dispute resolution for matters ranging from consumer disputes to professional negligence, disputes over property, wills and inheritance, bankruptcy and insolvency, and we assist clients with planning for their future by way of making wills and lasting powers of attorney. We also have a large, dedicated Court of Protection team experienced in the management of people’s affairs when they are unable to do so themselves because of age, infirmity or injury.  We also administer estates after someone has passed away.

Is there a case of which you are particularly proud?

My background is in civil and commercial litigation and during my career I have worked with a very wide range of cases.  I have dealt with some great clients, and my greatest satisfaction has and continues to come from assisting them to achieve the best outcome we can on their case.  Over the years, I have dealt with fatal accident and catastrophic injury claims, numerous different claims for injunctive relief, complex probate disputes and shareholder disputes that threaten the existence of a company. I believe that having this breadth of experience assists our clients, as I am able to see problems from all different angles.

I particularly enjoy the immediacy of injunctions. One of the more complex and memorable injunctions was acting for a client who was on the receiving end of a Search and Seizure Injunction at seven different sites simultaneously. I coordinated a team to respond to that.

The aspect that makes me most proud, however, is seeing the development of my assistants over the years. Many of them have gone on to become partners, managing partners or departmental heads at other firms.

What has been the most challenging aspects of 2020 and how did you overcome them?

Last year was memorable for all sorts of reasons, and not all of them bad. Out of adversity came some huge positives. The greatest strength of Bromleys is its team.  We have a great spirit and ethos.  During the first lockdown, the biggest challenge was maintaining that team spirit and ethos when people were working remotely.  We used many of the tools with which firms are now familiar – Zoom meetings, regular contact with all team members, quizzes and online events.  Undoubtedly, the most effective way of dealing with the situation was to ensure that the offices were as safe as possible, and to open the doors for staff to return.  The vast majority of our team took up the opportunity and have remained working in the office since mid-summer.  Their commitment has been truly humbling and I believe our team spirit is stronger than it has ever been.

Where do you see the firm in the next 5 years?

I have no doubt that the future is rosy for Bromleys.  I can see there being continued organic growth in terms of headcount, the range of services we offer, turnover and profitability, with a commitment to remaining on one site and the further adoption of flexible working practices.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for the legal profession?

Over-regulation.  As a profession, I believe that we are losing sight of the standards that our clients expect from us.  Those who remain regulated are subject to so many differing standards on so many different fronts that we struggle to be competitive.  However, to allow there to be competition from unregulated businesses, with the SRA leading the way with references to “customers” rather than “clients”, this will lead to confusion and, ultimately, damage the reputation of the profession.

Why would someone want to join your firm?

To be part of a fantastic, committed and dedicated team.  To have a clear career path and development.  To have direct exposure to clients with whom they will work closely and get to know.  To be rewarded with success and to be engaged in all aspects of the development of the firm.

What impact has technology had on the firm so far, and do you envisage future investment in technology?

My partners would say I am not the right person to answer this question, being a bit of a dinosaur!  However, undoubtedly our investment in technology enabled us to move seamlessly to remote working at the first lockdown.  We have been able to maintain our complete involvement in the court processes where the courts have been open, more particularly in the care team where it appears the family courts have led the way in the adoption and use of technology.  That means we have been able to work efficiently and effectively.  We spend an ever-increasing amount of time in management meetings discussing the latest developments that are available and whether they are suitable for our working practices.  There will certainly be further and ongoing investment in software and hardware.  We now have a dedicated internal IT support team, as well as external consultants.  The technology has enabled us throughout 2020 and the start of 2021 to maintain our core values of being ACE – Accessible, Caring and Effective.

What do you love about Manchester?

In no particular order, its vibrancy, accessibility, the warmth of Mancunians, the architecture and culture, the products of its micro-breweries and Sale Sharks!

This article first appeared in the February 2021 edition of the Manchester Law Society’s magazine The Messenger.