Home is where the heart is for Higgs’ people

14 July 2023

“The Black Country means so much to me and my family. It’s provided many opportunities for different generations and it’s a fantastic place to live and work.”

The words of Rhiannon Bartlett, one of our talented Trainee Solicitors currently working in the private client team, demonstrate the unbreakable bond which exists between Higgs LLP, our people and the Black Country.

Each year, July 14 – Black Country Day – offers an opportunity for us to reflect on a region which has been synonymous with our success as a law firm for almost 150 years.

Rhiannon is only 26-years-old but her connections with the Black Country go back almost a century.

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“I’m born and bred in the Black Country and lived the vast majority of my life here so I’m extremely passionate about the area."

Phil Barnsley

Head of Family Law, Higgs LLP

“I was very close to my grandad, Ken, and he moved to the Black Country from the family base in Wales when he was around 10 in the late 1920s or early 1930s,” she explained.

“He lived in Lye and it truly became his home and, subsequently, that has been the same for all of our family.

“Like many people back then, he initially worked down the mines but then moved onto the railways and then went on to own a corner shop on Lye High Street.

“While he wasn’t born here, my grandad was extremely proud of his Black Country roots and playing his small part in helping the region develop and we feel the same today.

“It’s such a friendly part of the world. When you are on holiday and hear an accent you recognise and know it’s somebody from the Black Country, there is no hesitation in stopping for a chat – even though they are complete strangers.”

For our Head of Family Law, Phil Barnsley, the desire to promote the Black Country as a region of potential, promise and opportunity burns bright.

Born and bred in Bilston, Phil is currently acting as an adviser to the Board of Bilston Town Community Football Club – a club which attracted crowds of 2,000-plus in the halcyon days of the 1950s - to help with ambitious plans to grow the club in the local vicinity.

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"The Black Country means so much to me and my family"

Rhiannon Bartlett

Trainee Solicitor, Private Client, Higgs LLP

And, through the Black Country Skills Hub, Phil also acts as an Enterprise Adviser to the City of Wolverhampton College as part of a quest to inspire the next generation to forge successful careers in the region.

He said: “I’m born and bred in the Black Country and lived the vast majority of my life here so I’m extremely passionate about the area.

“The people are hard-working and full of honesty, humility and humour but there is also plenty of innovation and ingenuity to inspire economic success.

“I’ve got a strong desire to play a part in realising the opportunities that exist in the Black Country and I think here at Higgs LLP, we are a perfect case study for that.

“We’ve got fantastic people, many of whom have lived in the Black Country their entire life, and are really strong when it comes to providing opportunities for up-and-coming professionals seeking a career in the legal industry.”

Childhood nostalgia is at the heart of the memories of Jayne Holliday, a Legal Director in our employment law team.

“I can’t say I was born in the Black Country because my dad was working in Shropshire at the time but we moved here when I was two and have lived here ever since,” she said.

“My parents were both born in Dudley and I’m half Willetts, half Sidaway, which are extremely prolific Black Country names.

“I can actually remember some of the buildings in the Black Country Museum being in their original locations. In fact, when the chemist was being demolished it was just round the corner from my school in Netherton and we went to see them numbering the bricks as it was taken down to be rebuilt for the Museum.

“I’m extremely proud of my Black Country roots and heritage and hope that my boys will feel the same too.

“I worry that I’ve not raised them well enough as we’re now in Kingswinford which, although only about four miles from Netherton, is a very different world!

“My kids have trouble understanding some of the older members of my family as their accents are so broad!”

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“I’m extremely proud of my Black Country roots and heritage and hope that my boys will feel the same too."

Jayne Holliday

Legal Director, Employment Law, Higgs LLP

Charlotte Orie, Client & Marketing Administrator, believes there is much to admire about life in the Black Country.

She said: “I’m extremely proud of my roots and, as soon as I return back from a holiday, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to hear our accent.

“We are proud of it and can make as much fun of it as we want!

“One of the most amazing qualities of the Black Country is its difference to places like Birmingham.

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“The people who live here are very kind, but forthright. It’s such a friendly place to live and work.”

Charlotte Orie

Client & Marketing Administrator, Higgs LLP

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