When it comes to navigating the law there is no easy route, and it often has to be dealt with under some of the most stressful situations. We meet Yashin Masoliver, Partner at Berry & Lamberts Solicitors, who have five offices in West Kent, to find out why the human touch can make life simpler

You have quite a history here in Kent…
Yes, the firm started over 250 years ago and we have always been based here. Our long standing history in West Kent is one of the advantages that we believe makes us so special to the area. With offices in Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Paddock Wood and Kings Hill, our relationship with local people is key to our longevity. We have always specialised in servicing individuals and businesses with a wide range of needs, and are with them throughout their lives. We will be with a family when they first have a baby and consequently want to set up a Will or Trust, then we’ll be there when that baby is old enough to want to start their own business or buy a house, and we are there when a client grows older and may want Power of Attorney or other life care. Our main purpose is to be that provider of support to people, and this is where we want to clarify an important distinction – we are human lawyers as opposed to corporate lawyers. There’s no arrogance with us. You’ll phone up and be speaking to someone who has two children and lives in the area as well. It’s fine if you prefer large corporates with 100s of staff, but that’s not who we are. One of the things I love seeing here is the thank you cards on the desks – we are really making a difference to people’s lives.

Do you have a big team?
The practice is undergoing a period of expansion. For example, I have been based at the Sevenoaks office, but it’s in a good place and we have now hired Anila Naeem who is joining us with a wealth of ideas, knowledge and experience, so I have returned to our Tunbridge Wells headquarters. We are nine partners and we have 80 staff across our five offices. Here in Tunbridge Wells, we have just over 30.

Is there any other reason for your move?
I’ve been with the practice since 1993, and my journey began in Tunbridge Wells. So I feel that headquarters is where I belong at present.

How did your interest in the law begin?
I was brought in after finishing my conversion course into law – quite the change having studied biology at Nottingham University. Having said that, an analytical and scientific mind is important in law, so that definitely helped. I landed on my feet at Berry & Lamberts, and specialised in family law where I have been for the past 22 years.

What do you look for when bringing in new people?
Technical expertise is a given. Being personable is so important in this job, and bringing a real human side to the role. We also want employees who put the client first – some firms talk of internal competitiveness between or within specialist departments, but here if I were to meet someone who felt he would be better suited to a colleagues specialities, then I would make sure I implemented that so as to provide the best service for the client.

Do you have any law affiliations?
The family team are members of Resolution (an organisation for professionals who specialise in family law) and have Resolution-accredited specialists. We are also members of LawNet – a national organisation of law that is passionate about helping firms grow and succeed, and enables us to draw on expertise from across the country. We are very proud of the whole team that makes up Berry & Lamberts and everything we do. We have a very strong set of very good lawyers.

What is it that makes a good lawyer?
Beyond technical ability, the fundamental difference between a good lawyer and a bad lawyer is the human quality. They have to listen, realism and pragmatism is key. Knowledge is so important, but you need to apply it to situations in a way that is helpful for the person, not just recite information. The law is the law, but every client’s case is individual, and the information or service they require is different. It’s not a black-and-white business.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry?
A growing intensity in competition. There are a lot of cheap companies trying to cut corners to compete in terms of costing, especially in conveyencing. You can call someone up now from a cheap company who will ask you for your file number, ask you what your case is, and then list off some impersonal advice for you. Unfortunately, I think a lot of people are drawn to the simplicity of that. But, realistically, the time in your life when you need a lawyer is often the time in your life that you probably also need someone who cares and will listen to you – not to be put on hold for ten minutes. Furthermore, a lot of those companies don’t work out massively cheaper either once you’ve bought all the ‘add ons’. That is when they get you in terms of costing. Clients need transparency from the start. We know here that the majority of our clients come after a recommendation, and it instills confidence that every single client will meet with a partner to discuss their legal needs.

What does the future hold for Berry & Lamberts?
We are putting the people in place to further grow our business. Although I specialise in family law, we work together as a firm and can easily connect you to the right person to deal with any legal issue. In terms of our future in the community, we would like to continue doing our work with the charities we are affiliated with – that’s something that’s really important to us as a long-standing Kent-based firm. We’ve just agreed to sponsor the Trinity Theatre Christmas Show, which we’re really excited about!

For further information, please contact:
Berry & Lamberts Solicitors
11 Church Road
Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN1 1JA
T: 01892 526344
E: enquiries@the-solicitors.co.uk
W: www.the-solicitors.co.uk