Located on the ‘Morris & Bates roundabout’ in Aberystwyth is a law firm that this year celebrates its 40th birthday. We caught up with director Annwen Jones to find out more.
So Annwen, tell us a bit about yourself. I consider myself now to be a local of Aberystwyth, having lived here since 1994! I was brought up in Abergynolwyn, went to University here in Aberystwyth, spent five years away from the area doing my Solicitors’ Finals, my Articles and two years with a company in Wrexham before coming back to Aberystwyth and to Morris & Bates specifically.
And who else makes up the team here at Morris & Bates? I am one of five Directors, the others being David Hinton Jones, Richard Morris, Christopher Bates and Nia Bates.
The firm was established by Gareth Morris and Anthony Bates, who still take an active role in the Company. We employ a Trainee Solicitor who is due to qualify on 1st April this year, also an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and a Registered Conveyancing Technician. We are quite a large practice for the area, with considerable support staff. We have a full-time office in Aberystwyth and also see clients by appointment at our premises in Knighton and Llandrindod Wells.
What is the history of the business? Morris & Bates was founded by two of the existing Solicitors, Gareth Morris and Anthony Bates, on 1st March 1979. At the time the firm operated from 29 Portland Street, Aberystwyth. The firm moved into its present offices in Alexandra Road at the beginning of 1994. In 1986 Morris & Bates took over the established firm of W A Bowen & Griffiths. In 1988 Roberts and Evans joined Morris & Bates. This firm had been in existence for a long time with drawings of David Lloyd George in their attic! Over the years the company has expanded considerably.
What services do you offer? Morris & Bates offers a very good range of services to include Wills, Probate, Conveyancing (both residential and commercial), Company/Commercial, Family and Matrimonial, Tax Trusts, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Landlord and Tenant, Agricultural, Employment and Personal Injury – all at competitive rates.
All the fee earners specialise in different areas of Law. We hold a number of quality assurances, for example Lexcel, Conveyancing Quality Scheme and Family Law Panel Accreditation and we are members of STEP and Resolution, which all guarantee a high level of service.
Why should someone come to a high street solicitor such as yourselves instead of a potentially cheaper option “online”? Personally, I think that an individual’s legal business is a serious matter. If I were a client, I would prefer someone that I can see face to face to be dealing with my legal business. The high street solicitor gets to know his or her client and deals with him or her appropriately. In matters such as conveyancing, high street solicitors know the area; in litigation and family matters the high street solicitor will know the workings of the local court and its personnel. I think the “personal touch” is so important.
How has being a lawyer changed since you first qualified? I qualified in 1992. My main speciality has been family/matrimonial/children work. Over the years the job has changed as a result, in the main, of the loss of Legal Aid in the kind of work with which I deal. The volume of the work generated in this area has reduced drastically. I am not saying that people are staying together, or that there are no problems regarding contact with children, but because the circumstances where Legal Aid is available are so limited, more and more individuals are dealing with matters themselves without taking legal advice. In addition, other methods of dispute resolution have been encouraged over the years for example, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and Mediation: involving the court is seen very much as a last resort.
And how do you see the profession going in the future? We as Solicitors need to look after our own profession. We are very good at dealing with other people’s cases and affairs but sometimes not as good at protecting our own profession.
What is it about Aberystwyth that has drawn all of you here rather than chase the dream in the big city? From my personal perspective Aberystwyth has always had a place in my heart. As a child my parents would bring me here on day trips quite often. I knew that I wanted to go to University here and whilst here at University I knew I wanted to work here. The five years I spent away from the area emphasised that to me. I have been here for 25 years now working at Morris & Bates. The other Directors David, Richard, Nia and Chris have all grown up here in Aberystwyth. Nia has had the experience of working in the big city and still chose to come back to Aber!
Is there anywhere better than Aber? If there is, I haven’t found it yet!
If you could sum up Morris & Bates’ service in five words what would they be? Professional, comprehensive, reliable, efficient and friendly.