It’s been a blast – Hill Dickinson chief to step aside

Peter Jackson is stepping down as chief executive of Liverpool law firm Hill Dickinson after 40 years with the firm.

Speaking to Jackson said: “It’s been a blast. It’s been great. And it’s about the people you work with, and how you can get the best out of people.”

The firm has started the process of transitioning the leadership and Jackson will formally step down in 2024 and be succeeded by Business Services Group head, Craig Scott.

Jackson will be staying with Hill Dickinson in an advisory capacity and will become a member of the firm’s board.

A straight talking former maritime lawyer, Jackson has been with the firm since 1983, where he was made managing partner in 2005 and became chief executive in 2016. He has led from the front at the firm and says that has sometimes meant doing the difficult jobs.

“I would like to sincerely thank all our people for their unwavering commitment and demonstration of our core values of trust, collaboration, innovation and respect over the years in which I have had the privilege of being managing partner and CEO. The firm has an exciting future ahead.

“I can’t say that I’ve enjoyed every minute of being in charge, that’s all part of the job of the CEO. There are obviously things that happen that you wouldn’t choose to happen. I’ve had deaths to deal with, and they don’t teach you at law school about how to write eulogies and deliver them at funerals.

“But I’ve worked with great people. It’s been a challenge that I’ve welcomed. I’ve learnt so much and I’m sure that I would learn even more if I carried on.”

Added Jackson: “The past 18 years at the helm of the firm have been both exciting and rewarding and the business is now exactly where we want it to be.  Since 2005, Hill Dickinson has grown from revenues of £31m to £128.6m as of April 2023 – our sixth year of consecutive growth – and the firm is a highly trusted brand, with people of great integrity and extremely loyal clients.

“Craig was the clear and unanimous choice for Hill Dickinson’s new CEO,” Jackson said. “I am very confident about the future of the firm with Craig at the helm.”

Fiona Parry, partner and head of the Commercial Litigation team, based in Liverpool, who has also been at the firm since 2010, has been named as the new head of BSG, and will be succeeding Scott upon his change of role to CEO at the end of the financial year.

Established in 1810, Hill Dickinson is an international commercial law firm which employs around 950 people across 10 offices, six of which are in the UK and four in Hong Kong, Singapore, Piraeus and Monaco. It is now regarded as one of the UK’s top 50 law firms and arguably the top firm in Liverpool, where it all began.

Jackson has overseen acquisitions, disposals and new office openings in his time leading the firm, most recently the negotiation over a prestigious new office in the St Michael’s development with footballer turned developer Gary Neville. A strange experience for a dedicated Liverpool FC supporter.

“I’m one of those Kopites who has called Gary Neville everything you can imagine under the sun over the years, but I thought he was very impressive.

“We’ve always been very realistic about our position in Manchester. We’ve got a good place in the market. But we’re going to be on the top of that building, hopefully saying to clients that we’re here in Manchester, we’re very ambitious and saying we can do a job for you here.”

He said there has been a marked professionalism in the management of commercial law firms in his time. He reflected on the days when he would take instructions in the morning by post, then the second post arrived at one o’clock which necessitated a few phone calls in the afternoon, sometimes firing up the Telex machine.

“You went home before six o’clock having done a full day’s work and everything was in order. It was all very lazy and gentlemanly and what have you and that obviously is not today’s world.” 

He said clients now get a much better service, firms are far more efficient, another sign of the serious management culture in firms.

“When I when I took over in 2005, I think you were just starting to see the growth of management assistance available for law firm managing partners, but I never had any training. I was a decent fee earner and seen as a good lad who was voted in by the other partners.

“I realised that was unsustainable, that I had to get some help and I went to Harvard Business School, where they ran a professional service firm course. It was an eye opener.”

It clearly worked. Jonathan Brown, Hill Dickinson chairman, was fulsome in his praise for what Jackson has contributed to the firm: “What Peter has achieved during four decades at the firm as a partner, custodian and CEO to help guide its evolution as a firm is a credit to him. His personal dedication to the success and stability of Hill Dickinson during his long tenure has been an inspiration to us all.  Peter will be working closely with Craig and the team over the coming months to ensure a smooth succession.”