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Thank you Andrew!

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Thank you Andrew!

The man who took on a pioneering challenge, steps down as Managing Partner

After devoting 30 years of his legal career to the firm, eight of which have been in the role of Managing Partner, staff across all departments and offices of Dutton Gregory Solicitors are expressing their gratitude and respect for the dedication, innovation, and care of Andrew Tilley as he retires from its Partnership.

In April 2015, the then Head of Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution of Dutton Gregory Solicitors, Andrew Tilley, agreed to take on the role of Managing Partner. Soon after, he attended a Law Society Conference where a speaker asked how many of the Managing Partners in the room were still carrying out legal work?

‘I raised my hand, along with half those in attendance, and the speaker immediately challenged us,’ Andrew remembers. ‘He explained why being a Managing Partner was a full-time role, so I returned to my fellow Partners, and they agreed to my following the advice.’

It proved a timely and correct decision. Within weeks, three Partners announced their retirement, the leases of offices across Hampshire and Dorset were coming to an end at similar times and Andrew was tasked with creating and executing a strategy for the firm’s future.

‘It was a real ‘Baptism of Fire’,’ he recalls. ‘Most of my contacts and legal work were from London, and there wasn’t the collaborative approach amongst regional associations we have now, so I did feel rather alone. However, I was convinced of two things – to be outward looking and focus on people.  Whether it was our staff, referrers trusting us with cases or the clients we were supporting, the legal profession is all about people.”

Andrew conducted a survey of clients who said, though the firm was professional, diligent, and reliable, it was also somewhat dated, fusty, and old-fashioned, hiding its success of the previous seven decades and the abilities and expertise of its staff.

From that point on, Andrew became a champion of growth, innovation, and reputation. Monday to Friday, he would be investigating paperless working, new technology and internal processes, while at weekends he found himself stood in skips outside former offices surrounded by the accumulation of decades of office activity.

It was whilst on honeymoon in Maldives in March 2020, that Andrew received news of the global pandemic and, acting with speed and instinct, returned to the UK on the last flight that landed in Gatwick airport before the country’s first lockdown.

Immediately chairing emergency COBRA-style meetings, Andrew led an accelerated rollout of technology, made decisions regarding furlough, and successfully guided the firm through a period where other businesses struggled.

‘We had already introduced laptops for remote working, were in the Cloud and had implemented new software, so we were in a robust position that enabled us to achieve growth during the two years of COVID lockdowns.’

When asked about the secret to his success as Managing Partner, Andrews immediate response returns to his focus on people. ‘Having the support of colleagues and trusted people to advise and share thoughts with allows you to stand back and see the big picture.  Once you have that, you can think about how to react to challenges and have clear idea of what needs to be achieved.’

‘It is a demanding role because, once you start to show successful delivery on objectives, people soon expect you to know absolutely everything.  Your reactions and facial expressions are suddenly scrutinised, there are numerous decisions to be made every day, and there is so much psychology that comes with the leadership. I sometimes think I would recommend a degree in the subject for upcoming Managing Partners.’

Though retiring from the Partnership. Andrew will now be working as a consultant to continue his work on internal improvement projects.

‘I am so grateful that Andrew has agreed to stay with us a bit longer,’ says his successor, Paul Sams. ‘What he has achieved has been nothing short of a revolution and I know I will personally be seeking out his wisdom in the months ahead to maintain the drive and motivation he has created. Dutton Gregory is the firm it is today due to his leadership.’

‘It has been an absolute rollercoaster,” concludes Andrew. ‘Scary at times, exhilarating in others, but you must leave your ego at the door, overcome any Imposter Syndrome you may feel, and enjoy learning new things every day with a wide variety of people. I hope I have laid the foundation on which the firm can build and achieve its tremendous potential.’