People: Law firm announces two new partners; Lighting Reality appoints chairman; and more

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Law firm Lodders has announced seven promotions in both its business and private client specialist teams, including two new partners.

Promoted from Senior Associate to Partner are Vicky Khandker, who specialises in all aspects of property litigation in Lodders’ Dispute Resolution team, and Victoria Longmore, a planning and highways specialist in the firm’s Real Estate practice.

The firm has also announced promotions for a further two senior solicitors in its Dispute Resolution practice.

Property litigation and dispute resolution law specialist Ellie Crofts, who joined Lodders just five months ago, and Tom Ellis, an experienced commercial litigator, principally in professional negligence disputes, are both promoted from Associate to Senior Associate.

Lodders Real Estate practice, which is one of the largest in the Midlands with more than 30 fee earners, has promoted Josy Haigh and Dan MacLeod to Associate.

And Alexis Nicholls is promoted from Operations Manager to Associate Director. At the firm for 18-years, Alexis is responsible for the facilities and overall day-to-day running and operation of Lodders four offices across the region and leads the firm’s administration and support teams.


 Lighting Reality, the fast-growing UK-based designer of real time lighting design software for outdoor and street lighting, has appointed Julian Hare as chairman.

He joins the Birmingham-based business as it is expanding worldwide and launching new products and updated versions of Lighting Reality PRO, the industry leading application used by lighting engineers, manufacturers, local authorities in the UK and increasingly on a global scale.

Having originally qualified with Deloitte & Co in the 1970s, Julian Hare immediately moved into mentoring and working with SMEs in a number of roles.

He was co-founder and finance director of Redsend Ltd, a printing company from which he exited via a trade sale. In 1999 he was the financial controller of IB Net plc where he assisted the management team in taking the business on to AIM.

In his role as investment manager with Advantage Creative Fund, he was responsible for progressing and overseeing several investments, providing one-to-one support and mentoring to growing businesses over a period of 11 years.

He has previously been a director of Lighting Reality Ltd, representing an investor, so has an in-depth knowledge of the company.


Law firm Irwin Mitchell has revealed its latest retention figures for trainees resulting in nine newly-qualified solicitors being appointed in its Birmingham office.

In the Birmingham office’s Business Legal Services team, Alistair Hayes (Banking & Finance) and Tom Walklett (Restructuring & Insolvency) have both been retained after completing their legal training at the firm.

In the firm’s Personal Legal Services division Caitlin Hindson and Tom Gregory (Court of Protection), Sangeeta Kohli (Family), Hannah Clifford and Alice Reilly (International Personal Injury), Hayyin Fan and Katie Sheahan (Medical Negligence) have been retained.

Nationally, 45 out of 47 of trainees will stay on at the firm as newly-qualified solicitors. This translates to a 96% retention rate which is higher than last year’s 83% figure.
Marissa Sanders, head of early careers at Irwin Mitchell, said: “This year’s newly qualified retention rate of 96% is an outstanding achievement reflecting both the calibre of our trainees and the training and support they receive in the business.”

In April, Irwin Mitchell confirmed it was relocating its Birmingham office to The Colmore Building.


Shirley-based engineering group Hill & Smith has appointed Hannah Nichols as chief financial officer.

Nichols has had a 14 year career with BT Group, most recently as CFO, Asia, Middle East & Africa for BT Global Services, based in Singapore, with responsibility for a complex and key growth region for BT, leading a 70 strong globally and culturally diverse finance team.

Prior to working for BT, she held a number of financial and commercial roles at Cable & Wireless.

Derek Muir, chief executive of Hill & Smith, said: “I am delighted that Hannah has agreed to join Hill & Smith as CFO.  Hannah has an excellent track record of leading international finance teams and of developing finance to become a key business partner, something which will enable her to make a significant contribution to Hill & Smith’s future success.  I am very much looking forward to working with Hannah, and having her as a member of our senior team.”

Nichols added: “I am extremely pleased to be joining Hill & Smith at such an exciting time in its growth strategy. The group has operations in a number of highly attractive geographies and end markets. I am very much looking forward to working with Derek and the senior management team to take Hill & Smith through its next phase of development.”


Mercia Technologies has announced that Susan Searle has decided to step down from her role as non-executive chair and from the board with immediate effect.

Having been non-executive deputy chair of Mercia at the time of its IPO in December 2014, she was elected non-executive chair in May 2016.

Ian Metcalfe, currently the group’s senior independent director, has been appointed as Mercia’s new non-executive chair. An additional non-executive director with specialist asset management experience will be appointed in due course, the company said.

Metcalfe said: “On behalf of the whole board, I would like to thank Susan for her significant contribution to Mercia over the last five years. She played an important role during a period in which Mercia has grown to the significantly scaled position it is in today.”

Searle added: “I have taken the decision that now is the right time for me to step aside so I can continue to make the appropriate time commitment for my other roles. It has been an honour to work with the team as Mercia has successfully matured as a business, both by significantly increasing its funds under management and deploying balance sheet capital into high growth technology businesses predominantly from the UK regions.”


Smith Cooper, the accountants and businesses advisors, has promoted Tom Joy to assistant manager in the specialist corporate finance team in Birmingham.

James Bagley, managing partner at Smith Cooper, said: “Here at Smith Cooper we firmly believe that business growth and success is best facilitated by investing in our specialist teams across all levels and disciplines of the organisation, ensuring team members are provided with ample opportunity to refine their skill set and progress within their field.

“By doing so, we have curated highly experienced teams across each of our offices, who continue to offer a leading and comprehensive range of services to our clients. This focus on our staff and the development of them as individuals means we are able to deliver a consistently high quality and timely service to our clients.”

Smith Cooper have recently celebrated their most successful year yet, with Group revenue increasing by 25% to c£19m.

The firm has six offices across the Midlands including Derby, Birmingham and Nottingham.