People; WHN Solicitors; Leonard Curtis; Deloitte; O’Connors; Harrison Drury; AspinallVerdi

Zahra Hanif

North West law firm, Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall Solicitors (WHN), has appointed qualified solicitor Zahra Hanif to strengthen the family law services provided to clients at its Clitheroe office.

She joins WHN having previously worked at two Lancashire-based law firms, most recently spending three years at Laker Legal Solicitors in Lancaster, where she qualified as a family law solicitor.

Zahra will support clients across a range of legal issues including the financial aspects of divorce, as well as private children law. She has particular expertise providing legal advice to protect vulnerable people and children, including preparing non-molestation orders and occupation orders as well as court orders made under Section 8 of the Children Act 1989.

David Connor, director, WHN, said: “Over the past year, we have seen a real growth in demand for our family law services in the Ribble Valley and Zahra’s appointment represents an expansion of our team to support that.

“Zahra brings a deep understanding of the complexities divorce and children’s law, but also huge empathy for the people she helps. She will be a great asset to the team.”

Zahra said: “I grew up in Great Harwood and still live in East Lancashire. WHN has a strong reputation in the area for its quality service and putting the client experience at the heart of everything it does.”

WHN employs more than 110 staff in offices in Accrington, Bacup, Bury, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Haslingden, Great Harwood, Rawtenstall and Salford.


Sarah Hewitt

Leonard Curtis has made a key hire in its funding team by appointing a new Head of Commercial Real Estate, Sarah Hewitt.

The business solutions group has focused on expanding its funding pillar in 2024 and Sarah joins the company to support the planned growth and structuring of funding solutions for clients. She will be based in Bury.

Sarah has spent almost 20 years working in commercial finance at major high street banks including HSBC, RBS, and Virgin Money covering relationship management, credit and risk, and restructuring roles and has a thorough understanding of the lending landscape.

She has also worked in a new start-up banking entity – being a key part of the team that secured a banking licence ahead of a major acquisition.

She aid: “I love seeing businesses thrive and enjoy supporting their goals, whether this be growing and requiring cash flow support, buying new premises, looking at investment opportunities, preparing for exit, general reviews and refinancing and anything in between.

“Joining the Leonard Curtis team is immensely appealing and very exciting as the funding team has been built on great foundations, with solid relationships and huge potential to assist even more clients and businesses to secure the vital finance they require.”

Becky Owen, Director of Commercial Finance at Leonard Curtis, said: “Sarah is a critical hire to support the expansion of the team. She brings a wealth of experience and drive to help us take the business forward over the coming months.”

Leonard Curtis’s Head of Funding, Gary Cain, said: “This really is a landmark hire for us in 2024. We’ve made huge strides in setting up a team that has the experience and insight to provide solutions to clients that work long term for their own specific goals, and Sarah is very much of the right mind-set in that regard.”


New promotions

Deloitte has strengthened its North West team with 18 senior promotions, including five new partners in the region as it prepares to move into its new office at 100 Embankment next month.

Spanning across its Audit and Assurance, Consulting, Financial Advisory and Tax and Legal teams, these were part of the firm’s new financial year promotions.

This takes the total number of partners in the North West to 69, with Manchester having the second highest number of partners outside London. Across Deloitte’s North West practice, a total of 355 people were promoted in the latest financial year, while the practice’s overall headcount grew to 1,378 over the same period.

This year there have been five new partner promotions in the North West. Raza Mian and Matt Smith, who have more than 25 years’ combined experience at the firm, have been promoted to partner in the firm’s Audit and Assurance team.

Promoted to partners in the Tax and Legal teams are Greg Dalziel and Mark Simm, who both started as graduates, and Paul Hynes, who originally joined through the firm’s summer vacation scheme.

In addition to the new partners, there have been 13 new director appointments in the North West. Within Audit and Assurance Simon Hardwick, Anshuman Shukla and Will Speakman have been promoted to directors, while in the Financial Advisory team Alice John and Deepak Lawrence have been promoted.

The Consulting team has also promoted four new directors, including Sameena Hafeez-Imam, Tom Ankers, Simon Curtis and Paul Greene. Tax and Legal also promoted four people to director level, including Nicole Faith, Sarah Frood, Matt O’Donnell and Bonita Porri Cummins.

Jo Ahmed, practice senior partner for Deloitte in the North West, said: “I would like to congratulate our 18 new partners and directors on their promotions. The North West is home to a vast amount of talent at all levels, and these latest promotions go to show the incredible talent we have in our practice, and the ability for people to build a fulfilling career at Deloitte.”


Phil Bowers, Tash Lackner, Josh Bates

Liverpool and London-based firm of business lawyers and advisers, O’Connors, has promoted Tash Lackner, Josh Bates, and Phil Bowers in recognition of their contribution to the growth and development of the firm.

Corporate lawyer, Natasha (Tash) Lackner, becomes a Legal Director and will take the lead in driving the firm’s national legal services sector strategy.

Regulatory & insurance lawyer, Josh Bates, becomes a Legal Director and will take the lead in driving the firm’s national financial services sector strategy, including the recently launched PLUS+ service for lawyers, accountants and other professionals who need additional insurance and regulatory support on major client projects and transactions.

Commercial lawyer Phil Bowers becomes a Legal Director and will take the lead in driving the firm’s national sport sector strategy.

CEO, David Malone, said: “These promotions reflect the enormous contribution Tash, Josh and Phil make to the firm every day. As well as their important management roles, they each bring rare legal project management skill and clarity of thinking to their legal work, which is a hallmark of what we do in helping clients to manage their risk in important projects and transactions.

“Tash, Josh and Phil will be responsible for the development of ground breaking solutions that help clients overcome the emerging and evolving challenges they face, and I can’t think of a better way to make a difference in business life.”


Duncan Rawlinson and Jade Driver

North West law firm, Harrison Drury, has expanded its residential conveyancing team with the appointment of experienced solicitor Jade Driver.

Jade, who joins from Vincents Solicitors, will support clients across the North West on a range of residential property matters, including sales and purchases, re-mortgages and transfers of equity.

Duncan Rawlinson, partner and head of the home and family law division at Harrison Drury, said: “We continue to grow our team to meet the demand for our residential property services across the North West.

“With her vast experience and excellent customer facing skills, Jade will only strengthen our offering and allow us to continue providing a high-quality service.”

Jade, who will be based in the firm’s Lancaster office, said: “Harrison Drury is a firm with an excellent reputation for looking after its people. Its values are very much aligned with my own, both personally and professionally. I’m looking forward to working with colleagues to support our clients and grow the team.”


Executive director Atam Verdi, Tom Smith and Ed Clothier

Independent nationwide property regeneration consultants AspinallVerdi has continue to expand with two senior appointments.

Associate director Tom Smith and principal consultant Ed Clothier will operate from the firm’s head office in Leeds and its office at 1 Mann Island in Liverpool, serving a growing number of clients in the public and private sectors throughout the north of England and further afield.

Tom joins from Stockport Council and Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) as a Development Manager. He led teams of consultants and contractors to bring forward key regeneration schemes for the council and MDC and successfully achieved full planning permission on key projects.

To his advisory work Ed brings more than a decade of experience in feasibility, planning, viability, and pre-construction, having led a specialist regeneration development firm, where he earned recognition as Property Newcomer of the Year at the Property Awards in 2018.

Ed has extensive experience managing the full development lifecycle, from pre-acquisition feasibility and site identification to planning management and stakeholder engagement. His expertise includes tackling complex redevelopment challenges, he is skilled in analysis, negotiation, and both written and oral representation, providing valuable insights and advice on these issues.

Atam Verdi, executive director of AspinallVerdi, said: “The strategic appointments of Tom and Ed bring further invaluable experience to our growing team of property regeneration professionals across our nationwide network of offices. Their insight and talent will benefit their colleagues and public and private sector clients throughout the north of England and further afield.”

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