Hudgell Solicitors becomes employee owned as Neil Hudgell says time has come to ‘give something back’ to talented team

Hudgell Solicitors is to become employee owned following a decision by founder Neil Hudgell to transfer the majority of shares to an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT).

C4Di, Kingston Upon Hull, East Yorkshire, United Kingdom, 22 February, 2023. Pictured: Hudgells Hull, Staff group and portraits

Mr Hudgell, who established the firm in Hull in 1997, says the move is being taken to ‘embrace the talent’ within the business, to ‘give something back’ and to protect its long-term future.

Employees will collectively acquire the majority stake in the business as a group, held on trust, enabling them to become involved in the firm’s decision-making, strategy and direction moving forward, as well as benefitting from future profits.

Mr Hudgell will remain active, but says the time is right to give staff a ‘direct voice in the management and ownership of the business and its future’.

“Reaching the milestone of 25 years in business resonated with me more than I anticipated it might do, and having reached the age that I have, I turned my mind to the future,” he said.

“There are many law businesses that have been around 50 and 100 years, so my mind now is to create a bit of a legacy.

“The best way to do that, and protect the long-term future of the firm, is by embracing the talent we have in the business, elevating that and giving them more of a direct voice in the management and ownership of the business for the future.

“This will also ensure we retain the culture and ethos of the business, and provide continuity for our team and our clients.”

Staged transition as founder to stay with business

Established by the Government in 2014, EOTs allow company founders to protect their business legacy, and maintain the ethos of the business and their way of running things.

It also allows them to protect the jobs of their staff and keep the business in the same location. There are now around 1,300 employee owned businesses in the UK, including a small number of other law firms.

Mr Hudgell says he is not ready to step away from a business that he still has ‘plenty of energy and passion for’.

“I don’t expect that people will notice too many immediate changes, certainly from my perspective I’m going nowhere, this is about transitioning over a measured, quite considerable period of time,” said Mr Hudgell.

“I don’t see my role and involvement changing for five years or more, I still have the energy and passion for what I do, I still enjoy the work and I still enjoy the people, that’s not changed. This is all about the next 25 years and beyond.

“My real driver is to encourage and reward the people in the business who have energy and ideas, and with the drive to become more prominent leaders within the business. I want to invest in the people that have helped us achieve what we have achieved so far. It’s time to give them something back.

“One of the things I am most proud of is the number of people who have been here for the majority of the 25 year journey. There is also a good core of people who have been here 20, 15 and 10 years.

“We have a very stable, loyal core workforce and I think it is appropriate that they are given an opportunity to be more central to the ownership, running and decision making at the business.

“Moving forward we need the business to reflect the views of the people that are a bit younger and perhaps have a bit of a different dynamic workwise. It’s about harnessing those different mindsets and different ways of working and encouraging the people with the ideas and energy to help themselves.”

Senior executive team remains in place

Mr Hudgell will remain on the senior executive team alongside chief executive Rachel Di Clemente and the rest of the Executive Management Team.

“The business will continue with the same name, same branding, same approach and same executive team. It is business as usual, but going forward people will have more opportunity to become involved in the journey we are now on. Even though it already feels that way, it will now be our peoples’ business, not just Neil’s, and that is very positive,” said Mrs Di Clemente.

“I think our people will embrace the opportunity this provides. We are a cohesive team here at Hudgells and this almost formalises how we loke to do things, ensuring our colleagues are able to help shape the future of the business and share in its success.”