We’re delighted to be working with Rollits to create a series of heritage articles that celebrate the law firm’s 180th anniversary.
The formation of Rollits dates back to 9 June 1841, when founder John Rollit was admitted as an attorney of the Court of Queen’s Bench and also as a solicitor of the High Court of Chancery, which was when he began practicing law with his Partner William Dryden. Originally called Dryden Sons & Rollit, the firm has never stopped evolving in line with our wonderful city and the needs of its people.
We met up with Ralph Gilbert, Managing Partner at Rollits, to discuss how the company became an established part of Hull’s thriving business scene.
“I’m Rollits man and boy,” says Ralph. “I’ve been working here since 1988, having come to the city to study at the University of Hull and, like many people, remaining here ever since. I worked my way up the career ladder, from trainee solicitor to a senior management role, and now spend half my time managing the firm and the other half as a dispute resolution lawyer.”
Ralph was at Rollits during its 150th anniversary in 1991 and is now at the heart of the celebrations for its 180th year.
“It’s strange being a partner of a firm that’s 180 years old. I equate it to Trigger’s broom in Only Fools and Horses – over the many decades there have been different partners, solicitors and team members, changes of scenery, new ways of working, yet there’s a continual flow and we can clearly trace our roots back to those initial days back in 1841.
“We’re firmly rooted in our history. We constantly remind ourselves of where we came from, consider the values that have driven us for 180 years, and use that as a basis for where we head.”
Rollits has been responding to the ever-changing applications of technology for longer than most companies, ensuring that its staff stay ahead of the curve:
“The way in which we do law is almost unrecognisable compared to how it was even in the 1990s. We used to have one computer amongst twenty of us, which is a far cry from the digital infrastructure we now have in place.
“Technology has moved more in the last fifteen years than the decades before and I suspect John Rollit wouldn’t recognise the way we work today.”
New technologies have enabled Rollits to work further afield than ever before. Whilst the majority of their clients are based right here in Hull and the wider Yorkshire area, they also provide services to organisations all across the UK:
“We have a housebuilder client on the south coast. One of its founders is originally from Hull and we still work with them closely thanks to the ability to deliver a seamless service from many miles away.”
Technology isn’t the only thing that’s changed at Rollits over the years, as the company has had numerous office locations in Yorkshire. However, in Hull, they have never moved far and have always been located within a small area of the city centre:
“We’ve been on Trinity House Lane, Bowlalley Lane, King William House and both ends of the High Street,” says Ralph. “We’re now in Citadel House, right next to The Lion & Key. Aside from being large premises with plenty of room to grow, we’re also never far from the Old Town’s many historic pubs, stylish eateries and cultural events, which are perfect for staff celebrations and for meeting clients.”
As for the services being delivered, Ralph tells us that these too have been fine-tuned during the firm’s prestigious history:
“As you become more specialised, your reputation soon spreads outside of your local area. One of our specialisms is education law for secondary schools, academies and colleges, and another is how the law applies to charities. This focus has led to us picking up work from all around the UK.”
The law can often seem daunting for small business owners, which is why Rollits has also remained dedicated to delivering a smooth and stress-free client experience:
“This is very much a people business,” explains Ralph. “No matter how digital the world becomes, people work with people and you need to instantly build a rapport, gain trust and develop a strong relationship. There’ll be a need for lawyers even as artificial intelligence grows, so we remain your go-to source for legal advice and helpful direction.
“We love helping our clients to remain compliant and settle disputes outside of court where possible. It’s all about reassurance, guidance and getting to know you. By combining leading knowledge with the personal touch, we can find solutions to any difficulties you may be facing. We’re never more than a phone call away.”
Hull Is This will be sharing regular articles and interviews to help Rollits celebrate their special anniversary. Keep checking our Heritage section for new updates and exciting announcements.