Leathes Prior History
Leathes Prior left school in 1870 at the age of 17 and was to have been articled to his uncle John Kitson but the lawyer died the year before and the boy’s legal training was undertaken by William Nicholas Harwin Turner. He was admitted as a Solicitor in 1875 and set out for London to take up an appointment in Lincoln’s Inn Fields.
Leathes returned to Norwich in 1876 and established the firm with the name it still bears today. The firm was based on a blend of work for private clients in Norfolk and public appointments for the city of Norwich and the diocese.
In 1876, Leathes Prior married Cecilia Bolingbroke. They had six children and the two boys – Bernard Leathes Prior and Charles Bolingbroke Leathes Prior – qualified as Solicitors after being articled to their father. The military tradition was maintained by Bernard who served in the South African war winning a Queen’s Medal with five clasps.
Charles went his own way just before the outbreak of hostilities and bought the Dereham firm of Girling and Ransome. He rejoined his father briefly in the 1920s before being appointed Official Receiver and later chairman of a tea and tobacco merchants. After the war, Bernard returned to England and set up business in London but was recalled to Leathes Prior in 1927 as the burden of business became too much for his father who died in 1936,
A new generation came onto the scene as Colonel Bernard Leathes Prior saw his younger son Bernard Oliver admitted as a Solicitor in 1937 before taking up military service in World War II. The older Bernard preserved the business through the war years and was active in the practice until his death in 1953 at the age of 77.
Bernard Oliver Leathes Prior was at this time taking up public appointments in Norwich and they were becoming an important part of the business – in 1949 he became Clerk of Peace, in 1953 HM Coroner and also Clerk to the Great Hospital Trustees and in 1955 Registrar to Diocese of Norwich and Legal Secretary to the Bishop.
This combination of official appointments and private client work lasted into the 1960s when Norfolk began to grow as an important commercial centre. There were no other members of the family to continue the firm so the decision was made to recruit keen young lawyers and ensure its succession in this way.
The 1970s and 1980s saw Leathes Prior transformed through the development of a wide range of legal services and significant growth into the modern law firm it is today. This change has reflected the growth and development of the County and the increasing importance of Norwich as a commercial centre. The last 20 years has seen a consolidation of that change with the firm emerging as a leading commercial and private client player in the Norfolk and East Anglian scene, consistently rated as such by the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners guides.
Today Leathes Prior currently consists of 13 Partners, 6 Associates and over 60 members of staff and we are one of the larger firms in East Anglia advising a wide range of clients. The firm is split between two offices, one in Tombland and the other in the Cathedral Close.
As a firm we provide a personal and partner-led practice, supported by highly qualified teams.