Friday 4th March 2022 marked the final day of over 41 years’ service at Watson Ramsbottom for Mr Phillip Thompson.

Having qualified as a Solicitor in December 1980, Phillip specialised in civil and commercial litigation obtaining his Diploma in Commercial Litigation and becoming an accredited CEDR mediator.

Phillip was a partner and director of the practice for 33 years and through this time, along with his litigation work, acted as a Trainee Solicitor Mentor, Training Partner, Financial Director, Money Laundering Reporting Officer and Risk Management Director.

Phillip spent 10 years as Senior Partner and Managing Director with responsibility for the operational and financial management of the firm. Under Phillip’s leadership, ably supported by a Board of dynamic entrepreneurial Directors and exceptional legal staff, the firm grew from a three to four office practice, tripled the annual turnover and doubled the staff levels.
Since stepping down as a Director in September 2018, Phillip continued to support the Board of Directors in his ongoing role as a Consultant Solicitor with the practice. His focus latterly on Risk and Compliance greatly assisted as the practice expanded further to what you see today.

Director and Solicitor Stuart Maher said of Phillip

“Phillip has been instrumental in my journey as a lawyer, firstly guiding my development as a young lawyer at the practice before greatly aiding my transition to a partner and then Director with his wealth of knowledge and ethical approach to business.

He led the practice through significant modernisation from a sleepy high-street practice in East Lancashire, putting in place the building blocks that have been the foundations of our exponential growth, and has been a constant point of reference in enforcing a culture of ‘quality over quantity’.

I will personally miss his support, wisdom and his professionalism in everything he has done for Watson Ramsbottom over the last four decades.

The office will be a much poorer place without his presence.”

Managing Director Elton Ashworth added

Phillip had a long an illustrious career and Ramsbottom and Co and Watson Ramsbottom following the merger in 2003 . He was instrumental in his role of Managing Partner and then Managing Director in the growth from small high street practice to one that now employs almost two hundred staff across both Lancashire and Yorkshire.

During his time as Managing Director/Partner, besides the turnover tripling, we gained numerous awards throughout that period. I consider he has always been the glue that has held the practice together, reining me in when I needed it and encouraging me when I needed it

From a personal point of view, Phillip brought me into the practice and it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to work with him over the past 16 years and I will miss him.

Ahead of his final day, we caught up with Phillip to reflect on his time with Watson Ramsbottom

WR: So Phillip, Happy Retirement! What are your plans for spending your time?

PT: Immediately, in March I’m lucky enough to be going to Barbados to watch the resurgence of the England cricket team. A long held ambition to see them play test cricket abroad. I’m hoping Jimmy gets subbed in at the last minute. After that, more horseracing, and less traffic jams in rush hour. Oh, and Louisa says spending more time with the family.

WR: Reflecting back on your time in law, what inspired you to become a solicitor?

PT: As a teenager I spent a lot of time visiting the law courts (not as a defendant) observing trials and listening to the (sometimes) verbal wizardry of Counsel and was fascinated by the whole legal process. I have no family history of lawyers, but it just interested me.

WR: What was it about litigation that drew your interest?

PT: Well, I just love a good argument (and the money).

WR: What are your favourite memories of Watson Ramsbottom, and your career in law?

PT: The people – you don’t stay at a firm unless all the staff from top to bottom are amazing, and over the years they have been. Law is really challenging every day, varied and plenty of opportunities to develop.

I was able to develop into Practice management which I found really challenging but loved. I was the boss once upon a time!

I have ended up in Risk and Compliance which I really love and is vital for practices these days, Funnily enough, my late Dad was a risk Inspector for the then General Accident Insurance (now Aviva) so maybe it’s in the genes.

My real favourite though is the days when we practised criminal law, you were on duty at weekend, and you got the call when Match of the Day was starting on Saturday night, to say your client was locked up and could you come to the Police station as they were ready to do an interview?! The joy of empty roads! Oh, and you got paid about 2 and 6 for the privilege.

WR: What will you miss the least?

PT:  The 24/7 commitment that is needed, I’m ready for some time off!

WR: What is your best memory from your career, and your funniest memory from Watson Ramsbottom?

PT: Best case was for a local businessman who had been defrauded of £250,000 by an unscrupulous broker. With the help of what has become known as a “Jeffrey Terry letter” (he an amazing Counsel and old school friend of mine), we recovered all the money from the Insurer where it had been (wrongfully) invested – and not a High Court writ in sight.

Funniest – It’s got to be the emergence in recent years of various elves, bunnies and Santas (i.e. the boss and friends) to be seen all over the county (now country) spreading goodwill for the practice. There are others but can only be told to individuals under conditions of the utmost secrecy, to protect the innocent.

WR: If you could do a different job for just one day, what would it be?

PT: A police officer, then I could get all those motorists who I currently spend my time yelling at through the windscreen.

WR: What will you miss the most?

PT:  Friendship and camaraderie of colleagues

WR: What advice would you give to young, aspiring lawyers?

PT: Be professional, be persistent.

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