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20 Years In Business – What’s Changed?

Martin Searle Solicitors

On 7 June 2024 we will be celebrating 20 years in business at martin searle solicitors. 

Cate and I started our firm in 2004. I left a commercial law firm having sued them for sex discrimination which was connected to my maternity leave. We immediately started running our annual Mind the Bump Campaign to stamp out pregnancy and maternity discrimination as this issue is close to my heart.

Cate had left a large legal aid practice in London but soon after we had started our law firm, we had no choice but to hand our housing legal aid contract back. This was due to the government introducing lower hourly rates which were commercially unviable for any law firm. Cate then concentrated on building our Community Care law practice and she is currently described by the Legal 500 as “the unquestionable expert in Community Care law”.

As a private legal practice we had to find a way to be able to give back to our local community once we had stopped doing legal aid work. We started to provide free training and advice to a number of organisations, including Age Concern, Mind, Alzheimer’s Society, Maternity Action and Community Works.

Over the last 20 years we have started new campaigns. These include #MeToo Matters, Disability Matters, Social Care Funding Matters, Menopause Matters and Diversity Matters. We provide practical advice and best-practice guidance to increase access to justice around the causes we care about, such as discrimination in the workplace and funding social care.

So what’s changed?

It goes without saying that we are much older and much wiser. We are also much more business savvy and have developed new business services. This includes our Professional Deputy Service where we act for numerous large law firms. This is when their deputies need advice and representation for their clients, on challenging decisions made by health and social services.

Our Employment Team now specialise in complex discrimination claims, successfully bringing and defending these in the Employment Tribunal. A recent case we won was for a teacher with Autism who was discriminated against and victimised by the senior management team. Our Employment Team have been described by the Legal 500 as a Leading Firm for more than 11 years, and the Legal 500 praises our Employment team’s “loyalty, honesty, courage, integrity, fortitude, and other important values”.

Our Community Care and Employment law teams work for clients all over England and Wales. Google loves us because we provide free relevant advice for everyone to download, regardless of whether they have the money to pay or not.

Office v hybrid

Since the Covid pandemic, many of our staff work on a hybrid basis, choosing to work half their time at home and the other half in our office. Nowadays, many of our clients prefer to meet with us through video calls or by telephone and email. And most of our training is now carried out virtually on Zoom rather than face to face.

As a resuilt, our office expenses have dropped significantly. But Cate and I still pay for everyone to go out for food and drinks every few months. This is a great chance for everyone to catch up with each other and relax.


Cate and I are proud of our firm. We are results driven and want the best results for our clients. We have teams of excellent lawyers and support staff who work efficiently as a team to deliver our services. We really do give a damn.

We realise we are out of step with the recent trend of law firms amalgamating. We really hope our firm will be around in the next hundred years. For this reason we are looking to hand over our business to our employees using an Employee Ownership Scheme in the next four years.

Cate and I enjoy being business owners and lawyers but eventually want to be able to explore new projects. We understand our business is all about the people and that retention and recruitment in this new age is the main challenge.

This is why we need to attract talented ambitious lawyers to carry on our reputation as tenacious, hard fighting solicitors who care about our clients. Please see my recent blog on this subject: Desperately Seeking a Committed Employment Lawyer to Join Our Firm

I leave you with the photo taken on the beach when Cate and I started this business. These beach shots set the tone for our look and our love of Brighton.

Cate Searle and Fiona Martin

So a big thanks to all of those people that have helped us succeed, Annabel Shilton, our business coach, Steve Antram, our accountant, Jeremy Donegan who handed over all his employment cases when we first started. And a big mention to Brighton and Hove Chamber of Commerce for all their contacts and referrals to the media and Gatwick Diamond Business for our Campaign of the Year Award for Mind the Bump.

And most of all a big thanks to all our staff who helped build our business from three people to twenty. We can’t wait to see what the future will hold in the next twenty years.

Contact us today on 01273 609911, or email

Martin Searle Solicitors, 9 Marlborough Place, Brighton, BN1 1UB
T: 01273 609 991

Martin Searle Solicitors is the trading name of ms solicitors ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority, and is registered in England under company number 05067303.

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