Our History (1789 - 2017)
Hedges Solicitors has seen more changes than most businesses over the years, it’s not surprising though. To put it into context, this local law firm was established some twenty three years before Charles Dickens was born.
Having recently celebrated its 225th New Year in business, Hedges Solicitors still maintains the ‘old world’ values that come from a long history of serving the local community.
Owners of castle grounds
Established in 1789 by John Hedges, Hedges Solicitors has traditionally been a cornerstone of the local community. Even 100 years later John Kirby Hedges was to write the two-volume ‘History of Wallingford’ and successfully get a permanent injunction to preserve the town’s Saxon walls that remain protected to this day. In fact the family even bought the site of Wallingford Castle from the Crown back in 1817.
Law, finance and beer
But the Hedges family were not just legal advisors to the people of the area; they also ran a bank and the local brewery. Law, finance and beer! ‘We threw away our quills and parchment paper some years ago but our clients still rest assured that their documents and valuables are locked away in what used to be the bank vault.’ says Adrian Hatt, a previous Senior Partner at the firm. ‘However the traditional values of personal client service remain at the core of how we operate and that will never change’.
Legal practice changes over time
Some things have altered though; ‘Hedges has been at the heart of the local community for over two centuries now, but the last 20 years has seen more changes in the laws governing finance, business and property than the previous 200 put together.’
And gone are the days when a solicitor covered all aspects of the law, Hatt continues ‘The complexities of modern law also require that we have specialists in property, family law and a range of private client services’.
As a family law firm, Hedges had a family member as Senior Partner for 193 years until Sir John Hedges retired from the business in 1982. Hedges had merged with another local law firm, Hatt & Co., in the early 1960s, ultimately giving the company a new family lineage and Adrian Hatt was the third generation of his family to run the law firm.
In the people business
A large proportion of Hedges client base treat the firm as ‘the family lawyers’ and remain with them for many years in the knowledge that there is a very personal integrity and trust to the service, something of a rarity in the modern world. Adrian Hatt summed it up rather succinctly ‘Ultimately, a law firm that has been operating locally for over two hundred years is not just in the legal business, it’s in the people business’.
In May 2021, Hedges Law became Employee Owned. This means that each one of our forty-plus employees is now a part owner of the business we are all so proud of. Prompted by the events of 2020 and the extraordinary dedication shown by Hedges's employees, Managing Director Nicola Poole decided that now was the time for Hedges to become Employee Owned. It is a way to thank the people who helped to turn the business around during an incredibly difficult time, and to ensure the future of Hedges is in the hands of those to whom it matters most. Read more about Employee Ownership here.