People: Bridge Law Solicitors; MHA Moore and Smalley; Dow Schofield Watts; Jefferies Solicitors

Dammy Uthman and Valerie Chirnside

Marple Bridge-based firm, Bridge Law Solicitors, has expanded its team for the fourth time this year, with two new recruits, paralegal Dammy Uthman and legal assistant Valerie Chirnside.

The new team members are playing an integral role in supporting Bridge Law with its ambitious growth plans for the future.

Dammy Uthman who completed her Legal Practice Course in 2018, has joined the firm following a number of years gaining a wealth of experience in large in-house legal departments and law firms across Manchester. She now joins Bridge Law to further her litigation career, specialising in debt recovery and contentious probate matters.

Dammy said: “Joining the Bridge Law team has helped expose me to working on a variety of different cases and particularly build my experience in contentious probate matters. The team have been so welcoming and supportive, I’ve already gained a wealth of experience since joining and worked on really interesting cases from all over the UK. I look forward to developing my career further over the coming years with the firm.”

Bringing with her more than 20 years of legal secretarial and office management experience to the team, Valerie Chirnside has joined the firm’s Marple Bridge team to provide key support to the solicitors, as well as being the first point of call for clients.

Valerie said: “After a few years working as a personal assistant for different sectors, I’m really pleased to be back in the legal sector, in a lovely local firm. I’m glad to be back in a position where I can put my many years of experience in the sector to good use to support the solicitors and clients who are often going through really stressful and emotional cases. The team have been very welcoming and I look forward to getting to know everyone better over the coming weeks.”

Claire Stewart, founder and director of Bridge Law, said: “I was absolutely delighted to welcome Dammy and Valerie to the team. Both have settled into their roles straight away and become hugely valued members of the team that we are lucky to have onboard.”

Dammy and Valerie’s appointments come after a fast paced period of growth for the firm, which has seen the company’s dispute management team double in size over the past year, while also doubling the size of the team in the second office in Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, which recently moved to larger premises.


North West accountancy and business advisory firm MHA Moore and Smalley has made a new senior appointment to further strengthen its VAT and indirect taxes team.

Carolyn Van Hecke has joined the firm as a VAT and indirect taxes senior manager from Cowgills, where she worked for 15 years as the leader of its VAT team.

She has also previously worked for HM Customs & Excise. Carolyn specialises in disputes and negotiations with HMRC, VAT and property as well as partial exemption.

Carolyn Van Hecke

Carolyn will work with clients and MHA Moore and Smalley colleagues to provide advice and solutions on a range of VAT and indirect tax issues. She will operate from the Preston office but will support clients nationally.

Jonathan Main, partner, said: “Businesses are working in a very challenging business environment both within and beyond the UK. It is essential that we are able to support our clients, so that they can continue to trade profitably and with efficient tax compliance processes.

“Carolyn’s wealth of experience and expertise will be invaluable in helping our clients manage their businesses and her appointment is an important addition to our growing team.”

Carolyn said: “I’m thrilled to be taking this new step in my career with an exciting, growing firm.

“MHA Moore and Smalley’s values and the colleagues I will be working with were an important factor in my decision to join the firm and I’m looking forward to working with them and with a wide range of clients to support them during a challenging time for the UK economy.”


Independent business advisory firm Dow Schofield Watts has appointed Liz Lawson, a business psychologist specialising in leadership assessment and development, to support its expansion across the UK.

Liz, who joins from Rotheram Carrington Recruitment Group in Chester, has more than 20 years’ experience. A Manchester Business School alumni, she started her career in recruitment with Hays and has also worked as a leadership consultant with Wickland Westcott, now New Street Consulting Group.

In her new role, she will be helping the Daresbury-based firm to assess and recruit new partners as it continues to roll-out its unique licensing model which enables finance professionals to run their own business under the Dow Schofield Watts banner. She will also provide psychometric profiling to inform new hiring decisions and people development support to existing professionals across the DSW Network.

Liz will be based at the Daresbury headquarters and work alongside recruitment manager Catherine Priestley.

Liz Lawson

Established in 2002, Dow Schofield Watts now has more than 80 professionals across the North West, Leeds, London, Reading and Aberdeen. The firm offers a range of professional services consisting of ‘everything but audit’, including its multi-award-winning corporate finance and due diligence services, and has recently been named one of the UK’s top 15 most active corporate finance advisors.

Liz said: “I’m delighted to be joining Dow Schofield Watts at such a pivotal time in the firm’s growth. I believe many professionals will be attracted to the firm because of the opportunity to maximise their earnings whilst enjoying complete autonomy, flexibility and genuine team camaraderie. I look forward to attracting and recruiting people who will thrive in our partnership culture and support the firm’s growth.”

Nicole Burstow, finance director at Dow Schofield Watts, said: “With the accountancy sector ripe for disruption, the Dow Schofield Watts model is offering professionals an alternative, with greater autonomy and flexibility than traditional firms, at a time when many are rethinking their priorities after the pandemic.

“Liz’s skills will be invaluable in helping us to roll-out our model nationwide, by helping to choose the right partners and supporting them as they build their own business as part of the Dow Schofield Watts network.”


Jefferies Solicitors is a fast growing personal injury law firm, with five new faces joining the firm over the past few weeks.

The new starters bring a wealth of experience and knowledge to the firm to strengthen its commitment to delivering an excellent service to clients.

Jefferies Solicitors helps injured individuals and their families secure compensation and access the very best care and rehabilitation.

Clare Foster

Clare Foster, clinical negligence solicitor, qualified as a solicitor in 2019, following a period of recognised training in the fields of serious/catastrophic injury and clinical negligence.

She said “I am looking forward to working for Jefferies Solicitors who share my commitment to client care and securing justice for those injured as a result of negligence.”

Louise Williams, new head of inception, worked in the insurance and legal industry since 1997, predominantly within the personal injury sector. She has more than 15 years’ experience in operations and commercial management. She said: “I am looking forward to my new role at Jefferies and working with the team to assist in the development of new business.”

Ellie Green, legal assistant, recently completed a Masters in Law at the University of Law. Prior to this she graduated from the University of Leeds with a first in History and Spanish. She said: “I am excited to kick-start my career in law and put everything I have learnt over the past year – at both university and various work-experience placements – into practice at Jefferies.”

Samara Anderson

Samara Anderson, new claims assessor, has recently graduated and said: “I cannot wait to apply my knowledge from my degree with everything I have learned from my various customer service roles. I am really excited to be amongst like minded people who describe themselves as a family, and getting to know everyone in the firm.”

​Hashanthi De Silva, new claims assessor, is a law graduate from the University of London, with an MBA from the University of Northampton. She said: “I feel privileged about the opportunity I’ve been given at Jefferies because it is one of the best law firms in Manchester which specialises in personal injury law. I look forward to working alongside experts at Jefferies and help their clients.”