30th January 2017
The move to the two-storey, 1,800 sq ft premises at 12 Colston Avenue enables BLS to widen the range of legal services currently offered to its 4,000 members from the local legal community and other professional bodies.
The decision to relocate from its current headquarters next door to Bristol Crown Court in Small Street - BLS’ home for the past 30 years – also represents the first time in its 246-year history that the society has owned its own premises.
Founded in 1770, BLS provides a range of services to its members, who include solicitors, barristers, trainee solicitors, pupil barristers, CILEx members and, in the case of corporate firm members, all those working within that organisation including support staff.
The services include social and professional networking seminars and events, representation and lobbying, recruitment and careers services, and limited historical information services to help practitioners with research.
The new premises offer BLS’ membership – which has grown from 800 to around 4,000 over the past six years – access to enhanced conference facilities, mediation suites, office space and meeting rooms. It will be legal hub for practitioners and those who work in the legal sector in Bristol and the surrounding areas.
President of Bristol Law Society, Becky Moyce, a property litigation partner with Temple Bright, said: “I am extremely proud and privileged to be the first BLS president to benefit from this. So much hard work has been put into achieving the move which will provide BLS with an excellent foundation on which to build a stable and successful future.”
Burston Cook acted for BLS in relation to the search for the new property and negotiated terms.
Finola Ingham of Burston Cook said: “We are delighted to have been able to assist the oldest law society in the country in securing a new HQ. The property is prominently located and will provide an excellent home for the Bristol Law Society.”
Legal advice was provided by Steve Schofield and Ben Tarrant, commercial property partners at Thrings solicitors, who carried out due diligence on the property and funders’ requirements. They were supported by solicitor Jade Kent, who advised on corporate governance matters.
Ben Tarrant, who is also a former president of BLS, said: “I have been involved with Bristol Law Society for around six years and have seen the organisation grow year on year during this period. The new offices, which are in a more prominent location in the heart of Bristol, are the next stage in BLS’ development and will enable the society to offer members enhanced services and extend its reach amongst the Bristol business community.
“Thrings is very pleased to have advised BLS on this important and historic acquisition, and we are delighted to see the society leading the way amongst major provincial city law societies in the provision of services to its members.”
Lloyds Bank part-funded the acquisition by providing BLS with a mortgage loan.
Duncan Edler, relationship manager at Lloyds Bank Commercial Banking, added: “The purchase of the premises marks an exciting new chapter of growth for BLS, allowing the society to expand its offering for its members and build upon its established reputation for high quality services.
“The new mediation rooms will allow lawyers across the city to resolve cases in a neutral environment and is a great addition to the society. Our sector expertise helps us provide businesses like BLS with the tailored support they need to thrive and we look forward to working with them in the future.”
The property has undergone significant refurbishment so as to enable it to match the requirements and aspirations of its membership. Chris Randall at Lancer Scott worked closely and flexibly with John Moriarty, the then President of Bristol Law Society, on a three-month design and build contract which will enable the society to have enhanced administrative offices and conference and meeting room facilities.