Belfast Telegraph

Law firm looking to future for growth

Cleaver Fulton Rankin managing partner Karen Blair reveals why the company is supporting the Belfast Telegraph Business Awards this year

Tell us a bit about the history of the Company.

Cleaver Fulton Rankin (CFR) was established in Belfast in 1893.

It is one of the leading commercial law firms in Northern Ireland, with a full range of legal practice areas covering commercial and property law as well as litigation, construction, corporate re-construction, planning and environmental law, employment law, charity, IT, banking and private clients.

We are always looking at new or developing areas of legal practice, particularly in regard to the needs of our clients. A number of our lawyers are dual-qualified, to practice in England and Wales as well as Northern Ireland.

We also have lawyers qualified to practice in the Republic and access to an international network of law firms.

This is obviously helpful to any of our clients who operate in more than one legal jurisdiction and means we are ideally placed to advise to organisations entering the Northern Ireland market for the first time.

How many people does the firm employ/how many locations?

We operate on Bedford Street in Belfast. We have a staff of approximately 85 with 34 are qualified lawyers.

We also run a well-regarded trainee programme. Currently we have seven individuals on this programme who benefit from supervised training in a range of legal disciplines.

Do you have any plans for expansion?

We have followed a steady programme of expansion and development for many years, with a strong focus on recruiting and developing trainee solicitors and junior staff.

Have you any new initiatives to combat the current economic challenges?

As a firm that has always been willing to innovate and adapt we have been developing specific areas of legal expertise to respond to meet the needs of our existing clients (particularly around business finance, restructuring and recovery) and the response to the new forms of investment being made in the Northern Ireland economy.

Why are you sponsoring the awards/this category in particular and how does it fit in with your company ethos?

CFR has always prided itself on being innovative and leading the market rather than following it.

We were among the first firms to recognise the growth that developments in public and environmental law represented and also the need to offer specialised IT and IPR advice to clients in a commercial world.

What do you think the winner of this category should epitomise?

The winner should be a company that has continually sought to push the technological boundaries of its market if not actually being responsible for defining those actual boundaries.

The company needs to be able to clearly communicate the benefits of that technology and then deliver it in a way that makes a real difference to its target market.

What benefits do you think the Business Awards bring to Northern Ireland?

Northern Ireland is a small but vibrant economic market place.

The activities of successful businesses can be used as an example to encourage other businesses and entrepreneurs in a way of showing how opportunities can be harnessed and how, even within a relatively small market success can be achieved.