Choosing a solicitors firm to take care of your legal requirements can be difficult, especially when the process is sensitive and complicated. You want to ensure they are the right fit for you, with the approachability and experience to take on your issues and deal with them professionally, efficiently all whilst providing a brilliant service. OM caught up with the team at Howard & Over to find out why they are your number one choice in Plymouth for your legal needs.
Starting out as a small firm in Plymouth over 100 years ago in 1914, Howard & Over is now an established and respected law firm serving the people of Plymouth and South Hams with first-class service and expert legal advice.
Since the firm was established in 1914, it has gone from strength to strength with many changes taking place across the business. The most recent changes have been an upgrade in premises, website and branding with modernisation at the forefront of the move.
With their offices in Ivybridge, Devonport and Plymstock becoming increasingly dated, the new management team: Donna Baker, Katherine Millman, Jan Millar and Tim Quinn decided to push the firm forward, moving away from old-fashioned, unsuitable premises to new modern and more importantly accessible offices.
“We needed to bite the bullet and move forward”
When considering new premises for the Plymouth office, the partners decided that Plym House in Plympton was the perfect location, easily accessible from the A38 and all main routes in and out of the city via car or public transport and with free parking available for their clients who drive.
“Plymstock isn’t too far away from here, Ivybridge is a 10-minute car journey away and Plympton is right on our doorstep. We aren’t on the outskirts; we are still in Plymouth”
The Ivybridge office was originally based on Fore Street and has now moved to an open-plan and refurbished office in Glanvilles Mill at the centre of Ivybridge with the team opting to keep their location close to the high street.
Civil Litigation Solicitor, Stephen Smith tells us – “We now have a nice, professional environment where we can welcome clients.”
After much hard work and a smooth transition into their new, open-plan offices in December 2017 based at Plym House, Plympton and Glanvilles Mill, Ivybridge; the team has been focusing on providing the best possible service they can for each client.
As you would expect from a firm the size of Howard & Over, they are able to offer their services to both personal and business clients with a wide range of services available including Residential and Commercial Property, Wills, Trusts, Powers of Attorney and Probate, Civil Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Family, Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence, Business and Agriculture, and Debt Collection.
Although the services offered at each office differ, any member of staff is willing to travel between the two at the convenience of the client, always putting the client’s needs ahead of their own.
Getting to know each client and understanding their needs every step of the process with any legal requirement is something the team at Howard & Over pride themselves on, going out of their way to ensure each client is looked after and understands the process fully.
When consulting with a solicitors’ firm, most of the time the matter is urgent, sensitive and occasionally distressing for the client; this is something Howard & Over understand as a law firm and allow each case to be handled with care, diligence and empathy.
“The client is relying on you entirely to get it right for them, and documents tend to look like a foreign language to them. When we advise our clients, we make certain it is explained to them and that they understand it fully.”
Approachability, efficiency and friendliness are the top attributions Howard & Over uphold themselves on and the team of 25 strong are on hand to help, advise and make things easy, no matter how small or complicated the case.
The firm value themselves on building a trusting relationship with their clients.
Face to face contact is an important quality most people look for in a solicitor. Meeting the person or team dealing with your legal needs builds trust and understanding between the client and the firm. Every member of staff at Howard & Over are happy to meet with their clients and put them at ease throughout the legal process, always on hand to answer questions and keeping them up to date every step of the way.
The team at Howard & Over not only provide top quality service but supporting one another with training and development is also a priority. Recently qualified solicitor, Harry Austin, started training with Howard & Over in 2014 after completing his Law degree, working his way up from a paralegal to now a fully qualified solicitor dealing with commercial and residential property matters.
Partner and head of the property department, Donna Baker explains – “After some time of Harry working at the firm, we were really pleased with what he was doing so we offered him the opportunity to complete his training contract with us. Whilst working he undertook the Legal Practice course which he got a distinction in.”
Different to most other firms, Howard & Over want qualified staff dealing with their clients and carrying out the work. The partners encourage progression within the firm, supporting every individual with their development and investing in training where required.
When investing in legal advice for personal matters or your business needs, you want to be confident the firm you’ve chosen is fully accredited and qualified to carry out the services being offered. This is why Howard & Over chose to become accredited with Lexcel, the Law Society’s quality mark for excellence in legal practice management and client care, giving you peace of mind and reassurance that they have your best interests at heart during the legal process.
Finding access to legal advice is something Howard & Over understand can be difficult for many people with cost playing a huge part in how legal issues are dealt with.
Their newly updated website focuses on being accessible and easy for all to use via desktop and mobiles with the function to contact the firm directly from the website. They have also ensured their pricing for each service is laid out clearly; something you don’t see often with law firms.
“You’ve got to be transparent with your clients; they want to know what they’re paying for and how much it’s going to cost them”
With many transactions taking a long time from buying a home to contested probate or property disputes, clients can often put their emotions first, rather than considering their finances. The team understand the legal process is costly and stressful, and therefore take their time to understand each case and are realistic when advising the client on whether the investment is financially viable compared to the likely outcome.
“Hourly rates can get out of control with added fees on top, so it’s about being realistic with clients and working out what is best for them emotionally and financially. With litigation especially we discourage clients from entering into something if it’s not going to be worth their while.”
No person is ever turned away by the team at Howard & Over with people often dropping in and calling for legal advice. Whether you call or drop in, a member of the team will speak with you and they are always happy to help in any situation.
Katherine Millman, partner and head of the private client department tells us the team are often going out of their way for clients in the form of home visits. “We offer home visits at no extra cost to the client and particularly with my line of work, a lot more of my clients require home visits as they are elderly or can’t leave their home. You’ve got to put the client first especially when they don’t have anyone else to help them.”
Growth and development both internally and externally has been at the forefront for the firm. A change of appearance has seen Howard & Over modernise whilst maintaining the same level of professional, high-quality service and ethics that has kept them strong since 1914.
The updated offices have been integral to the development of Howard & Over and have allowed them to expand at a manageable rate all whilst staying core to the services they provide.
“We want to continue to grow but at a pace that doesn’t affect our quality service and high street approach”
Having been shortlisted for the Devon and Somerset Legal Awards ‘Law Firm of the Year’ for the second time running, which takes place in April we are excited to see what the future brings for this forward-thinking, approachable and modern firm. It is clear to see the firm are looking ahead and further growth is on their minds with the partners pushing for Howard & Over to be the best solicitors’ firm in Plymouth delivering excellent service across their two offices.
For more information on Howard & Over, the services they provide and how they can help you with your legal requirements contact a member of the team using any of the details below.
Plym House, 3 Longbridge Rd, PL6 8LT
9 Glanville’s Mill, Ivybridge, PL21 9PS
Facebook: Howard & Over