Tunbridge Wells-based law firm, CooperBurnett LLP, celebrates its 40th anniversary in April. Over the years, the firm has built an enviable reputation for the excellent standard of its proactive advice across corporate and private law and it boasts a client base which stretches across the South East and beyond.
Since 1981, there have been many highlights, including being one of the very first firms in the UK to be awarded the Conveyancing Quality Scheme accreditation by The Law Society; former Partner, Jonathan Smithers, being President of The Law Society (2015 to 2016); and, in 2019, a team from CooperBurnett cycling from London to Paris in 24 hours and raising more than £25,000 for Brain Tumour Research.
“We are so proud to be celebrating this significant milestone and it’s particularly touching that there are many of us who have been with CooperBurnett for a significant amount of that time,” says Victoria Sampson, Partner and Head of the Corporate and Commercial Services team, who is this month marking 25 years with the firm herself. “This really says something about us as a firm and our people. We are proud to be #TeamCB.”
The longest-serving member of the team is Debbie Charman, who joined CooperBurnett in July 1985, aged 17.
“Initially, it was just to do a two-week holiday cover for general office, but I was offered a full-time job at the end,” says Debbie, who then progressed to trainee secretary and eventually to PA/secretary. “The firm has always had a ‘family’ feel to it; you don’t feel like ‘just an employee’. Judith Slater, who was the original office manager, helped install the values within the firm, to help each other out, to be able to discuss problems that arose, making sure everyone was happy within their jobs. That ‘we are all approachable’ feeling has stayed. I am proud to still be part of the team.”
Hazel Cullen has been with CooperBurnett for 33 years, having joined aged 15, a week after leaving school. Hazel started in the general office team, progressing to a PA role; she worked in the commercial department for nine years, then directly for the then Senior Partner and now works as an integral team member in residential property.
“More than 30 years is a long time to work somewhere, but I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else,” says Hazel. “It’s a lifetime really and, as a team, we’ve seen each other through good times and bad. This isn’t just somewhere I work, I really care about CooperBurnett and feel a real sense of duty towards the firm.”
Partner Joseph Oates adds: “Across the firm, growing and developing our team is absolutely key. A number of our lawyers joined CooperBurnett early in their careers. We endeavour to nurture our colleagues’ progress and provide opportunities to further their career through our commitment to training and professional qualifications.”
To mark the 40th anniversary, the partners at CooperBurnett recently arranged for every member of the team to be sent a very special Captain Tom Rose – with £2.50 from each purchase being donated to The Captain Tom Foundation.
“Between us, the partners hand-delivered the roses to each of our colleagues at home,” says Joseph. “We wanted to give them all something to mark our 40th anniversary, which will be long-lasting and will grow from something small into a thing of beauty.”
Victoria continues: “The symbolism of growth from the stark stalks as we emerge from the pandemic into our ruby year is something we hope everyone will embrace. This particular rose was chosen to not only support The Captain Tom Foundation but also because of its colour – as this is our ruby anniversary.”
Joseph adds: “We are delighted to be celebrating 40 years this month and are proud of what we have achieved over those years. As a team we are confident that we have a brilliant future ahead of us and are embarking on our next 40 years with much confidence and excitement.”