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45 year career in law at Birkett Long
Bruce Ballard, a member of the Wills, Trusts and Probate Team, is retiring after a 45 year career as a lawyer at Birkett Long. We look back at an extraordinary colleague’s work, and how the profession has changed.
Adrian Livesley, Managing Partner, said: “Bruce has been simply extraordinary. He joined the firm from school at 16 and became a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Executives. He then decided to go further and qualified as a solicitor and a notary public, ultimately becoming a Partner of the firm.
“Forty five years with one firm is an extraordinary achievement. Bruce is a man of fierce loyalty and pride in his firm and his colleagues, a man adored by his clients for his deep knowledge of their affairs and appreciated for his wise and thoughtful advice. Although he likes to stay quietly out of the limelight, he is the first person to whom his colleagues turn for help and guidance. We will miss him and are delighted that he will remain a consultant to the firm, so we can continue to use his knowledge and experience.”
Bruce’s career wasn’t always going to be in law. Whilst at school, law never even entered his head. He wanted to go to university and read science, but after a push from his father, he found himself a job after leaving school.
On 9 July 1973, Bruce started his first day at Birkett Long, which was then Smith, Morton & Long, as a Trainee Legal Executive. Bruce said: “Despite the rather grand title, everyone new to the office in those days was expected to do a spell in reception, so my first days were spent acting as a receptionist, delivering letters by hand around Halstead and stamping the post at the end of the day. Believe it or not, I also had to collect rents on behalf of clients once a month.”
In 1995, after 22 years at Birkett Long, Bruce became a partner of the firm. Over the years Bruce has seen many changes to the law firm including; the company merger changing from Smith Morton & Long to Birkett Long, employees rise from a handful to over 180 the firm has today, growth from one office to three covering the length of Essex, changes in management with three different managing partners, the creation of Birkett Long’s first website in 1998, seven acquisitions and a two rebrands.
Bruce said: “The workplace has changed so much - law firms need to carry a higher volume of work than before. It is a hard world now, you need to be more commercially prepared and to operate as a business.”
Now retired, Bruce looks back at his time with Birkett Long, saying: “The clients, the people in the firm, its ethos of putting the client first and adopting high ethical and moral standards is my reason for staying at Birkett Long for so many years.
“After 45 years, Birkett Long still feels like a family firm.”