A DEVOTED partner at a Winchester law firm is retiring after more than 30 years in the business. 

Andrew Tilley has announced that he will be stepping down from his role as managing partner at Dutton Gregory Solicitors. 

He has been in the role since April 2015, after previously being head of commercial litigation and dispute resolution. 

Within weeks of taking the role, three partners also announced their retirement, the leases of offices across Hampshire and Dorset were coming to an end at similar times and Andrew was tasked with creating and executing a strategy for the firm’s future.

He said: "It was a real baptism of fire. Most of my contacts and legal work were from London, and there wasn’t the collaborative approach amongst regional associations we have now, so I did feel rather alone. However, I was convinced of two things – to be outward looking and focus on people.  Whether it was our staff, referrers trusting us with cases or the clients we were supporting, the legal profession is all about people.”

Andrew conducted a survey of clients who said, though the firm was professional, diligent, and reliable, it was also somewhat dated, hiding its success of the previous seven decades and the abilities and expertise of its staff.

From the point on, Andrew became a champion of growth, innovation, and reputation. Monday to Friday, he would be investigating paperless working, new technology and internal processes, while at weekends he found himself stood in skips outside former offices surrounded by the accumulation of decades of office activity.

While on honeymoon in Maldives in March 2020, Andrew received news of the global pandemic and, acting with speed, returned to the UK on the last flight that landed in Gatwick before the first lockdown.

Immediately chairing emergency COBRA-style meetings, Andrew led an accelerated rollout of technology, made decisions regarding furlough, and successfully guided the firm through a period where other businesses struggled.

He said: "We had already introduced laptops for remote working, were in the Cloud and had implemented new software, so we were in a robust position that enabled us to achieve growth during the two years of COVID lockdowns."

Andrew said the secret to his success as managing partner has been a focus on people. 

He said: "Having the support of colleagues and trusted people to advise and share thoughts with allows you to stand back and see the big picture. Once you have that, you can think about how to react to challenges and have clear idea of what needs to be achieved."

Though retiring, Andrew will continue to work as a consultant on internal improvement projects.

His successor, Paul Sams, said: "I am so grateful that Andrew has agreed to stay with us a bit longer. What he has achieved has been nothing short of a revolution and I know I will personally be seeking out his wisdom in the months ahead to maintain the drive and motivation he has created. Dutton Gregory is the firm it is today due to his leadership."