People on the Move: Summize; Eric Wright Construction; Brabners; 438 Marketing; GHP Legal; Voodoo

Andrew Leaitherland

Manchester legal technology firm Summize has appointed Andrew Leaitherland to its board.

Former group chief executive at Manchester-based law firm DWF and founder of arch.law, Andrew joins the team as a non-executive director and will be advising the firm on its expansion.

A prominent figure in the legal industry, Andrew has more than 20 years’ experience of building and operating law firms, and alongside running arch.law, acts as chair of The Legal Director.

Established in 2018, Summize is a lightweight assistant to the contract lifecycle and is used by both in-house and private practice legal teams, as well as SMEs.

Andrew Leaitherland said: “The use of technology in the legal sector has the potential to be revolutionary, and already we’re seeing the positive impact it can have both on firms’ efficiency and client servicing.

“I’m joining Summize at an exciting time, both for the industry and the company. The firm has already taken its first steps into international markets and has ambitious plans to develop more software and expand its reach to new sectors over the next year.”

Summize, the developer and provider of software for the legal sector, has recently secured £1m in funding from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF), which will be used as it embarks on its next stage of growth. It will utilise the new funding to expand its client base, develop new services and fine-tune its product offering.

Tom Dunlop, Summize chief executive, said: “We’re excited to have Andrew on board as we start working on our long-term expansion ambitions.

“Andrew has a wealth of experience working within forward-thinking firms and his expertise will be invaluable, particularly as we continue to provide support to firms looking to take the next step in innovation.

“Manchester is home to a thriving tech scene, and the biggest cluster outside of London, and we want to see this grow, with aspirations to have the region rival the likes of Silicon Valley.

“By working together across the technology sector and sharing ideas we can bring this dream to life and help the firms that call the city home unlock the benefits of digital, too – whether that’s using it to forge new relationships at home or abroad, or to evolve their working practices in more efficient, digitally-driven ways.”

Since it was established in 2018, Summize has secured more than £1.5m in funding from different partners. This has been used to bolster team growth, accelerate product development and enable the firm to expand internationally, serving clients in the US, Australia and South Africa.

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John Hartnett has been appointed as managing director of Preston-based Eric Wright Construction.

He will take over the reins from John Wilson who retires at Christmas after 24 years with the business. Phil Brown also joins the board in the role of surveying director.

Group managing director, Jeremy Hartley, said: “John Wilson has done an excellent job leading the construction business through some extremely challenging times, not least the well-publicised challenges faced by the industry as a whole this year with Brexit and, of course, COVID. It is a situation no one could have begun to envisage.

“With a change of leadership under John Hartnett and Phil’s appointment further strengthening the board, we’re taking the opportunity now to respond to a very changed world and reshape the business to ensure it remains resilient and future-proofed to meet the continuing operational and commercial challenges which face the construction sector as a whole.

John Hartnett

“Phil has a great deal of commercial expertise which will be invaluable as we deal with the economic challenges post-COVID.”

He added: “Despite all the issues 2020 has thrown at us, our construction team has delivered over £60m worth of key projects on time or ahead of schedule during the Summer, which is a remarkable achievement.

“John’s decision to retire is part of a planned succession programme and we are extremely grateful to him that he delayed his departure to the end of the year to support his team through the disruption of COVID. We would all like to thank him for his dedication to the business over the years and his agreement to stay on to ensure a smooth transition for our clients.”

John Hartnett, who joined the business in 2015 from Lend Lease, said: “We have in place a resilient and robust business structure which will take Eric Wright Construction through the next stage of its evolution.”

Eric Wright Construction, is currently working on the £30m Gateway Altelier scheme in Salford for Muse and a £12m Sports Science Project for Manchester Metropolitan University. The team recently completed £45m of development work for Manchester Life and has delivered three new schools under the Department for Education Framework: Lotus SEN Blackpool; Fairfield Primary and Preston Muslim Girls High School.

The business is also working with One Partnership to deliver two residential health projects in Lancashire to add to the existing portfolio and has recently completed a student accommodation scheme for Maple Grove Developments in York and Artis Park industrial scheme in Deeside.

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Brabners’ Stephanie Kerr has become the first solicitor in Preston to become a full member of the Association of Contentious Trust and Probate Specialists (ACTAPS), a prestigious body that accredits the UK’s leading wills and inheritance dispute lawyers.

The new accreditation comes after a period of growth in Brabners’ Preston-based litigation team following a spike in the number of contentious inheritance claims and contested wills across Lancashire – a trend consistent with the rest of the UK.

The number of probate claims issued in the Royal Courts of Justice soared by 20% in 2019 UK-wide, the third consecutive year the numbers have risen according to figures from the Ministry of Justice. Probate claims are disputes seeking the court’s decision on whether the will of a deceased person is valid or not.

Stephanie has become a full member of ACTAPS, an organisation that recognises solicitors who are leading experts in the fields of inheritance claims and trust litigation. Applicants must have at least five years’ experience in contentious trust and probate law to become a full member, and this follows having to complete a three-year qualification course at the University of Law to be considered for associate membership.

Stephanie Kerr

Stephanie said: “To become a full member of ACTAPS is a real privilege, especially being the first in Preston to do so. It puts me in a good position to continue building Brabners’ contentious wills and probate offering across the North West.”

Tom Smith, litigation lawyer and partner at Brabners, said: “Stephanie is a fantastic asset to our team. Achieving this specialist accreditation is no mean feat and is testament to the exceptional skill and knowledge she has developed over many years. With the number of contentious inheritance claims on the rise in the region, Stephanie’s in-depth knowledge of the litigation process and her skills in providing emotional support are highly sought-after.”

Stephanie qualified as a solicitor in 2010 and has since focused on disciplines including contentious wills, probate and inheritance disputes. She has also undertaken bereavement training provided by the Cruse Bereavement Care charity, giving her additional skills in providing specialist advice and emotional support to clients.

Brabners recently strengthened its private client team with the appointment of consultant Liz Braude, as part of a series of appointments to the Preston, Manchester and Liverpool offices.

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Cheshire-based brand communications agency, 438 Marketing is marking its 15th year by recruiting a new head of automotive to fuel further expansion in the sector.

With a hugely impressive automotive track-record, the 438 founding team has been working with motoring-related brands since even before it opened the agency’s famous blue door on Knutsford’s King Street in 2005. Now it is planning to drive further growth with the appointment of Stuart Royle who joins as head of automotive.

Stuart Royle

Stuart will support the business with its existing automotive clients including Isuzu, Subaru, Williams Motor Group (BMW, MINI, JLR) and Marshall (BMW, MINI, Audi, Mercedes) and help to propel ambitious growth plans to attract new agency partners looking to navigate the changing market.

He brings more than 30 years’ experience leading campaigns for some of the world’s most iconic automotive brands, such as Jeep, Alfa Romeo, Bentley and Fiat, having held senior global positions for Leo Burnett Worldwide and BBDO Worldwide in Detroit.

Andy Whitmore, founding partner of 438, said: “As the agency reaches its milestone 15th year, with the amount of experience Stuart brings to the position, adding to our team at this level will help to bolster the agency’s next phase of growth. He will lead our automotive team and further raise the bar in all areas of the agency’s service offering.

“The automotive industry is evolving faster than ever before and over the next 10 years we are going to see a huge step change in the sector – from the planned phasing out of petrol and diesel models to further development of autonomous driving.

“Whilst the current landscape, against a backdrop of the pandemic, is tough right now – the future opportunities are extremely exciting. As an agile and nimble agency with a high calibre team of automotive marketing experts we’re best placed to lead this march.”

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A Wrexham solicitor who first worked in the area more than 30 years ago has joined the busy residential conveyancing team at GHP Legal.

Patricia Hughes moved to Wrexham after qualifying as a solicitor in 1984 and has since worked for several law firms in the area as well as for Chester City Council.

On joining GHP Legal at the firm’s Wrexham head office, Patricia said she believed her philosophy of providing a personal service that aims to keep the stress of moving home to a minimum is a perfect fit with the ethos of the firm.

“Buying a home is the greatest financial commitment most people are likely to undertake during their lifetime”, says Patricia, “so it is right that buyers, and sellers, should get expert guidance and the very best legal support throughout every stage of the process.

Patricia Hughes

“I have acted for a number of clients for many years, whose children and other family members I am now fortunate to also have been instructed to act for. I get particular satisfaction acting for first time buyers and assisting them during an exciting and stressful time, helping them to avoid the pitfalls that might otherwise befall them in the conveyancing process.”

Richard Lloyd, senior partner at GHP Legal said: “The fact that so many of our clients come back to us the next time they move is testament to the quality of our residential property team and the personal service we provide. Patricia is a welcome addition to the team at what is, currently, a particularly busy time, and she brings with her a wealth of experience.”

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Mobile messaging specialist, Voodoo, has strengthened its senior management team after appointing experienced agile software engineer and business analyst Rob Kerr as its technical director.

Rob will be responsible for overseeing the future development of Voodoo’s powerful mobile messaging platform, where he will head a team of seven developers as the business prepares to harness the potential offered by the next generation of mobile messaging technology.

In a career spanning more than 20 years Rob has held senior software development roles where he has helped a diverse range of businesses and public sector organisations to embrace new forms of technology to improve customer experiences.

For nearly a decade Rob was part of the BBC’s development team where he led the successful technical redevelopment of the corporation’s GCSE Bitesize service.

Rob helped to transform a tired, static website into a modern interactive experience for end users. His work on the project included the development of a new content management system, as well as collaborating with internal content teams and examination boards to ensure relevant course content covering a varied range of syllabuses was available within the platform. Today, Bitesize is accessed by more than half a million users each week.

Rob will be based in Voodoo’s Manchester-based technical innovation hub, where he will play a key role in bringing new products and services to market, as well as enhancing the company’s powerful mobile messaging platform.

Rob Kerr

He said: “Throughout my career I’ve always been interested in helping businesses harness technology. The telecoms and mobile marketing sectors are constantly evolving and changing, which is an enticing challenge.

“Demand for mobile messaging as a business communication tool has mushroomed in recent years and I am looking forward to helping Voodoo’s development team deliver on the potential offered by the next generation of mobile messaging technology.”

Gareth Davies, Voodoo managing director, said: “Rob joins Voodoo at an exciting time for the business, one in which we’ve enjoyed a significant period of growth. However, we’ve never been an organisation to rest on our laurels and we are committed to helping our customers harness some of the latest technology available within the mobile messaging market.

“The next generation of mobile messaging will offer any new and secure ways to help businesses communicate with their customers and with Rob’s extensive background in both software engineering and business analysis, he has already established himself as a key member of our organisation.”

Launched in 2013, Voodoo uses a custom-built SMS delivery platform to help businesses communicate via mobile messaging more effectively.

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