No.7 – Dinosaurs

No.7 – Dinosaurs

Whilst longevity can bring experience, solicitors are often criticized for their failure to adapt to modern times, retaining a pompous attitude and a failure to recognise legal practices are a business offering services like any other, albeit of a legal nature, and cannot rest on their historic reputations to acquire new customers.

As a firm we are fortunate enough to have a long history and we have been assisting customers with their legal needs across Darlington, the Tees Valley , County Durham and North Yorkshire for nearly 50 years. Our stability means our customers can have peace of mind that we have the experience to handle their matter, but we recognise that continuously need to evolve in how we operate as a business and deliver our legal services in a modern, professional manner.

We have invested heavily in updating our IT infrastructure to make us more robust, increase our digital capabilities and allow greater flexibility in our working capabilities. This has placed us in a much stronger position to continue to operate during the current Covid-19 pandemic where our solicitors are able to continue to work remotely. In April, the next part of our flexible working programme arrives with the deployment of a  new phone system across providing us with a suite of features for flexibility.

In the summer of 2019 we introduced a strategy to recruit the legal talent of the future across our management and core areas of law, Family & Divorce, Residential Property, Private Client and Dispute Resolution.  Two new Partners joined us in 2019. Alister Jones in the Property team bringing significant experience in property sale & purchases, but also one of the few solicitors in the region experienced in equity release. Alex Spurr returned to Darlington from one of North Yorkshires leading regional firms bringing a wealth of experience in Will writing, Lasting Powers of Attorney and estate administration and increases our capabilities to undertake complex trust work and inheritance tax planning for business and agricultural clients.  We have recruited into our Property and Family team and also have one of the rising stars of  Family law joining us later this month as we continue to cement ourselves as the largest Family law team in Darlington.

Some of our readers may have also noticed a change in our marketing at the end of 2019, commencing with the introduction of our Zebra and continued use of our black and white colour scheme emphasising ‘clarity.’ We have a new website in development that will continue to enhance our brand and more importantly, enable clients to access digital resources and have increased capability to instruct us online.

Whilst we have a strong history as a legal firm, we are continually seeking to improve our services and take on board the feedback from our clients to ensure that avoid becoming legal dinosaurs and remain the first choice of legal provider for our customers.

To find out how we can help you during the Covid-19 pandemic, please call your local office, email or visit us at

No.6 – Wiser than Online

No6 – Wiser than Online

There is a wonderful mug available to purchase “Don’t confuse my law degree with Google.” The internet is a wonderful thing and often is the first source of information for people when they have an enquiry. This may be to check a store opening time or answer a general knowledge question through to trying to find the answer to  medical or legal concern.

Whilst the internet can provide generic advice or have examples of how situations have impacted on a specific person and relate to their specific circumstances, it really cannot provide the dedicated, specific advice that your local GP or solicitor can provide.

Whilst the law is set down in statute or developed over time through cases brought before the court, it is how that law applies to the specific facts of an individuals circumstances that is key to your own legal matter. What is relevant to one person may not match your own predicament and so caution should be exercised when taking advice on the internet as gospel.

In addition, the quality of legal advice can vary greatly both online and off and whilst solicitors all have a minimum qualification level, there are further accreditations and qualifications that can be obtained in specific areas of law to ensure that those solicitors are at the forefront of their profession.

The firm as a whole has been awarded Lexcel status due to its quality in client service and care. Our Family team include solicitors who are members of Resolution, Collaborative lawyers and the Children panel and our residential property team are part of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme. On the Private Client front, the team who deal in Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts and Probate, include members of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) and Solicitors for the Elderly and our Dispute Resolution team includes specialists on the Mental Health panel.

The definitive list of accreditations of the firm are too numerous to list here in full but the above is sufficient enough to demonstrate the expertise within our firm. When you need a solicitor, whether getting divorced, buying a new house or making a Will and planning for the future, you can rest  assured that you are in good hands if you speak to us.

Law Firm Darlington

No3. ‘Law Firm for Life’

The third of our black and white monthly images, entitled ‘Lawyers for Life’, of course has to have a festive feel given it is released in December and so what better image to feature than a Christmas tree covered in snow. During the festive period, households across the country bring in real trees and put them at the heart of their homes, central to the celebrations, until after the festivities are over in when they are often discarded.

Similarly, instructing a law firm can be an isolated, short term event. You may never require the services of a solicitor or may only ever need to use a solicitor when you purchase a home, largely a short term experience of 6 to 8 weeks, similar to the enjoyment of the Christmas tree.

Depending on life events, people may also require solicitors to help personally on other occasions such as following a personal injury or car accident, getting divorced or leaving a long term partner, dealing with a bereavement or to assist with Court disputes. Unless you have used a solicitor before, you do not tend to think of yourself as having a solicitor, in the same way as you have a Doctor for example, where you automatically register with a local surgery just in case you need future medical assistance. For most individuals, a law firm is a transactional relationship.

At Clark Willis however, we believe in being a Law Firm for Life, in being there for our customers and their families when life events mean that they require a solicitor and to help them plan for the future.  We invest in this ethos in four main ways:

  1. Ensuring we have a core of personal legal services to ensure we can meet an individual’s legal requirements throughout their lifetime. Some of our core services include buying or selling Property, Will writing and estate planning, Divorce and Childcare, Personal Injury, Dispute Resolution and then finally assisting in sorting our matters through Probate when a person passes away. This cradle to grave mentality means we can genuinely be a ‘Law Firm for Life.’
  2. Focus on delivering excellent customer service levels to ensure that our client’s experience of a law firm is positive. We are rated 4.7/5 for customer satisfaction and seek feedback off every client we serve to constantly seek new ways to improve our customer journey with us. Instructing solicitors can be daunting and often at emotional times, where aspects as basic as being able to speak to your solicitor on the phone, being made to feel at ease and emotionally supported can make a real difference to the experience and challenge the traditional reputation of solicitors appearing aloof.
  3. Rewarding loyalty. Existing clients receive discounts on our standard rates for future work and those people utilising our residential conveyancing service or family team services also qualify for discounts on writing our updating Wills to reflect their new circumstances. We also offer complimentary storage of key documents as standard.
  4. We view the ‘Law Firm for Life’ ethos as equally applicable internally where we invest in future talent, recruit to retain and provide a positive working environment for our team. Many of the current team have trained with us and we have even had several team members who have left to explore life outside of firm and who have returned back to the fold. The longest serving employee has been with us for over 40 years. We believe this internal ethos flows through positively into our service.

So whether it is externally for our clients, or internally for our team, we genuinely wish to be a Law Firm for Life.

‘Law Firm For Life’ is the latest in a series of monthly monochrome images to be featured over a 12 month period on our social media channels to highlight some of the key elements of our service so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to see the series as they are released.

For more information on our firm please see

For those of you reading this who live in Darlington and who are enjoying a real tree this Christmas, why not consider using the Christmas tree collection service raising vital funds for St Teresa’s Hospice in the New Year. For more information and to pre book a collection visit

We take this opportunity to wish all of our customers and contacts an enjoyable festive period and good wishes for the New Year.

Expert solicitors

No2 “No Magic”

The second of our black and white monthly images, entitled ‘No Magic’, represents the training and development of our legal team behind the scenes, as well as solicitors in general, to reflect why choosing the right law firm for your legal matters needs more thought than just plumping for a name.  Not all legal providers are made equally (some are not even solicitors) and your choice can have a direct impact on your matter.

It is not down to magic that our solicitors are experts in their own field and the right choice for your legal need but rather a dedication to learning, training and developing to make them not only competent lawyers but specialists in their respective fields.

Experts in their Fields

In addition to the training requirements to become a solicitor, 4 years of higher education and 2 years in practice, we encourage our solicitors to undertake additional training and qualifications to make them specialists in their respective areas of practice and respected amongst their peers.

Our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts team include members of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and Solicitors for the Elderly so they have vast experience and knowledge in Wills, tax planning matters and later life planning.

Our Family & Divorce team include members of Resolution Specialists, Collaborative Family Lawyers and trained mediators so they can take a holistic approach to separation and childcare issues.

Our residential property team have been awarded the Conveyancing Quality Scheme to reflect the quality of their work on property sales, purchases and mortgaging whilst our Dispute Resolution team includes mental health accredited panel members.

The firm as a whole has also been awarded the Lexcel award by the Law Society as a quality mark for practice management and client care.

As the law itself constantly evolves all of our legal team go through  annual training to remain at the forefront of their specialist legal areas.

A full list of our firm and individual accreditation’s can be found on our website.

Experience when it Counts

As a firm we have been assisting the people of County Durham, the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire with their legal matters for nearly 50 years.

Individual Solicitor’s experience is often referred to as post qualification experience (PQE,) in other words the number of years undertaking the job following the completion of the 6 years education and training set out above.

At Clark Willis, our longest serving solicitor and Partner, Peter Furness, specialising in Dispute resolution and Courts Martial work, has over 30 years PQE and our four Partners average 18 years PQE to lead our 28 strong team.

Whilst qualifications grant exposure to the relevant legislation and practice, it is experience that is the practical application of the law to assist individuals. The greater the number of years of practice, the more varied exposure to the real world application of the law and the greater ability to apply it to your matter, meaning increased knowledge and often swifter results.

Alternative Legal Providers

The is perhaps a little confusion by members of the public over solicitors, consultants, executives, Will writers, estate planners  and even the words lawyer and solicitor. Unless you a dealing with a law firm or solicitor regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority then you are not dealing with a solicitor with known training levels, experience and fully backed by insurance.

If you approach someone to write you a Will for example you would assume that there is a minimum training requirement for any person in England writing a Will, after all it is a document of significant magnitude. Many people are shocked that they could become a Will writer themselves within the same day with very little or no qualification behind them let alone any experience.

Whilst for simple affairs they may well be capable of writing a Will, just as a person can write their own Will without any help, it is perhaps best described in comparison to your doctor versus attending an alternative medicine provider. Your local GP has minimum training levels, can look at your entire circumstances instead of an issue in isolation and has access to the NHS behind them, to provide peace of mind and appropriate treatment. With alternative legal providers, especially Will writing, errors only become apparent after a death when they can’t be easily rectified, if they can be rectified at all.

Martin Lewis, the Money Saving Expert includes in his Will writing advice:

Here we want to start with a WARNING – unlike many areas of financial services, will-writing is NOT a regulated market.

This means there are a number of different ways to get a will, but the protections you have if something goes wrong can vary hugely, depending on who writes it.

Confusingly, while will-writing itself is unregulated, because solicitors ARE regulated professionals, if you use them you ARE covered by a range of potentially valuable protections.

With other (non-lawyer) will-writing services, you do NOT have the same safeguards, and with a DIY will essentially you are on your own.


No Magic

There really therefore isn’t any magic involved in dealing with our clients legal matters and our advice is purely based on training, experience and the knowledge and application of the law in a straight forward, clear way. So if you are in need of legal services in County Durham, the Tees Valley and North Yorkshire, then contact our trusted solicitors for peace of mind that what you are being advised is not hocus pocus.

‘No Magic’ is the series of a serious of monthly monochrome images to be featured over the next 12 months across our social media channels to highlight some of the key elements of our service so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to see the series as they are released.

For more information on our firm please see

No.1 “The Zebra”

Why We Are Seeing Stripes

Those of you reading this who follow us across our social media channels or who we have met recently at the Darlington Business Expo will not have failed to notice we have gone all dotty over stripes with the introduction of a Zebra combined with the phrase ‘Clear Legal Advice.’

Whilst a Zebra is instantly recognisable in its own right with its iconic stripes and is certainly eye catching across an Exposition hall, the choice of a Zebra to launch a series of black and white images over the coming months runs a little deeper than enabling us to be easy to spot.


Black and white have long been the colour scheme of Clark Willis Law Firm. Our heritage of providing legal services to the people of Darlington goes back nearly 50 years and so it was natural that the colours chosen by the firm during that early period reflected the colour scheme associated with the town itself and the football club.  As a firm we are proud to be headquartered in the heart of Darlington town centre and wear our colours to display this.


‘Black and White’ is traditionally associated with clarity and an issue being easy to understand. The legal world, legislation and terminology can often be confusing  and daunting to those who wish to have matters clearly explained. One of our core values as a firm is that law should be made simple and we explain options clearly, in plain English to ensure our clients fully understand their position and enabling them to make informed choices.


Zebras are family oriented animals and live in family groups of between 5 – 20 individuals. As a firm we enjoy a family team mentality across our 27 members of staff, many of whom have been with us for a significant period of time – the longest working with us for 40 years! Many of the current team have trained with us and we have even had several team members who have left to explore life outside of our herd and who have returned back to the fold. We believe this internal team ethos flows through positively into our service to clients as it enables us to work together across legal disciplines, to work more productively and efficiently and most importantly to focus on delivering an excellent service to our clients to uphold the firms reputation. You may have seen ‘Let Our Family Look After Yours’ included in our literature for this reason.


Zebras are surprisingly courageous animals who will stand their ground and are not afraid to confront predators if required. The preferred choice however, is to avoid confrontation and the Zebras dazzling pattern structure and quick pace means that confrontation is normally a last resort. As one of the only firms in the area that can undertake mediation services, with two trained mediators in our ranks, we certainly believe in settling disagreements without confrontation where possible, but if required to do so we also have the legal expertise and experience to adopt a more robust position. This may be a simple pre action warning shot to a debtor for credit control or a more dogged pursuit of the right outcome on personal injury matter to achieve the best result for our clients.

‘No1. The Zebra’ is the first of a series of monthly monochrome images to be featured over the next 12 months across our social media channels to highlight some of the key elements of our service so be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn to see the series as they are released.