KEITH Songhurst, 44, a Partner and solicitor specialising in dispute resolution, is celebrating 20 years’ service at Birkett Long.
Despite never having had any childhood ambition to be a lawyer, Keith saw law as a challenging, interesting and potentially rewarding subject to study at University. After enjoying his degree and a year out travelling, he applied for the Legal Practice Course, and, 20 years ago Keith began his career as a trainee at the firm. After qualifying, he joined the litigation team in Colchester, moving to the Chelmsford office to become a team leader and then a partner in 2008.
He has had some interesting clients, some famous clients, and some challenging clients over the years, but it is the variety of people and types of cases that he deals with every day that means the job never gets boring.
Keith said: “At a time when more and more disputes are resolved outside of court, it was quite exciting for me to have a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court recently, especially as my clients won! That was probably one of the most satisfying cases I have dealt with in my career as my clients were lovely people who really didn’t deserve to be in the position they were in. Legally, their case was difficult and could have gone either way but, morally, I certainly believed that they deserved to win. It was a great feeling, and a great relief, to get the right result for them.”
This victory is the most memorable thing in Keith’s career so far, although he says it was a close-run thing between that and the 36 not-out he once scored for the firm’s cricket team!
Keith enjoys the variety of the job. Whilst still doing ‘the day job’ and helping his clients, he is now also on the firm’s Oversight Board and involved in the running of the firm. In addition, Keith has responsibility for leading the South Essex Dispute Resolution Team, and enjoys supporting and helping develop trainees and more junior solicitors in the team.
Keith’s favourite thing about working at Birkett Long is the people. Keith said: “We’ve always been lucky enough to have a great bunch of people working here, generally always all pulling in the same direction. I met my wife here many years ago, so have a lot to thank the firm for! I also appreciate the fact that the firm has always been ambitious and forward-thinking. I don’t suppose I would still be here if it hadn’t.”
Talking of his aspirations, Keith hopes to continue to help the firm grow and progress, to embrace the changes that it will continue to face and to move with the times. He says: “I hope that I can avoid being seen as a dinosaur from a past generation of lawyers anytime soon!”
Birkett Long has offices in Chelmsford, Colchester, Basildon and London. With 25 partners, it provides a wide range of legal and independent financial services for business including corporate and commercial advice, dispute resolution, education, insolvency, intellectual property and employment and for individuals: wills and conveyancing, family law, independent financial advice, dispute resolution and accident and negligence claims.