ONE of Yorkshire’s leading law firms has become entirely owned by its employees after the three shareholder directors agreed to sell the business to an employee ownership trust.

Ison Harrison, which has a network of sixteen offices including Guiseley, Otley and Ilkley, was founded in 1978 as S.C Harrison & Co, merging a decade later with Ison Driver & Furness, to form Ison Harrison. It now employs more than 230 staff.

The firm, which has an annual turnover of £16 million, represents around 20,000 clients each year. Over the years it has represented clients in many high profile cases including several families at the inquest of those who died in the Hillsborough disaster.

The growth of the firm over the past decade has been primarily driven through the development of an extensive branch network with residential property, wills and probate and family work in particular taking the lead.

Directors of the firm opted against a traditional business sale or merger options, choosing an employee ownership trust instead with the workforce now owning 100 per cent of the business.

Under the new ownership model, the management structure will comprise of eight directors with five new directors welcomed to the existing board including James Thompson, Gareth Naylor, Jenny Bland, Sarah Laughey and Richard Coulthard.

Jonathan Wearing, who has been head of the firm for 15 years, remains Managing Director with Richard Timperley and Dominic Mackenzie, the other two shareholder Directors, remain as Finance Director and Head of Private Client respectively.

Mr Wearing said: “Richard, Dominic and I have enjoyed many successful years in growing the business and strengthening the firm’s footprint across Yorkshire but given our size we felt a new structure was necessary for us to continue to grow. By becoming an employee owned business and extending the breadth and reach of the Board we feel that we are really well set up for whatever the future holds. The move offers stability, continued job security for all of our dedicated staff and a platform for further growth.

"Employees will have a greater influence over the future direction of the firm, will financially benefit from the ongoing success of the business and continue to deliver unrivalled client service in the multitude of private and commercial arenas in which we operate. It will allow us to involve and reward everyone, attract talent in the region and demonstrate a genuine point of difference in a competitive market."