Meet the team: Clarke Mairs

Meet the team: Clarke Mairs

As a Newcastle-based law firm operating across the country, BQ caught up with the team at Clarke Mairs LLP to find out more about the business, their day-to-day roles and where they see the business going forward...

Clarke Mairs LLP is a commercial law firm based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne providing legal services to businesses and individuals nationwide.

As a growing business which is extending its reach across the UK, BQ caught up with the team to find out how they've made it happen, what the perks of the jobs are and what their plans are for the future.


What does your role include?

Paul Rushworth, partner, said: I am an insolvency lawyer advising insolvency practitioners, companies and individuals on everything from restructure to save a business or jobs, recovering debts from customers or claims against directors and third parties following insolvency. As a partner supervising and developing the team of solicitors, looking after clients and developing the business.  

Gillian Bassett, partner, added: "I specialise in property law, dealing with all aspects of commercial property work ranging from acquisitions and disposals, commercial development and leasehold work for both landlords and tenants."


Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you end up at Clarke Mairs?

Fred Banning, commercial litigation partner, said: "I became a barrister and solicitor in Canada in the early Pleistocene era and bent the ear of Canadian judges for a few years. I then moved to England at the turn of the century and re-qualified as a solicitor with Higher Rights of Audience, which is as close as you can get in England to being a barrister and solicitor. I joined the predecessor firm to Clarke Mairs LLP and learned the peculiar type of pain reserved for followers of Newcastle United."

Tim Clarke, partner, added: "I started off at Articled Clerk in London EC1 where I qualified in Feb 1987, I then worked in London until 1991 before then heading to the Newcastle office of a national firm. I then left to join another solicitor to set up own firm in 1992 before then setting up Clarke Mairs in 2007 with other partners who agreed the time had come to split form that business, to focus on the commercial practice."


What do you believe makes a great leader?

Tim Clarke, partner, said: "Experience, listening and understanding how people work. Being prepared to then make decisions and take responsibility for the consequences. Never feeling that saying sorry is a sign of weakness."

Paul Rushworth, partner, added: "Mike Brearley gets it about right in saying a good captain is intuitive, resourceful, sympathetic and clear-thinking BUT only as good as your team."


What has been your biggest challenge so far?

Tim Clarke, partner, said: "Managing the expansion of the business – specifically ensuring the people we bring in have the qualities that will make them a real asset to the business."

Paul Rushworth said: "Looking back starting a new commercial law firm in 2007, in the midst of recession and a global financial crisis, was a challenge but one we relished and would all take on again."

For Canadian, Fred Banning, he had the far harder challenge of "understanding the Geordie accent!"


We also wanted to know how the team alleviate the stress that comes with their roles.

Tim said: "I believe that having a degree of stress is no bad thing – it’s important to recognise it for what it is and ensuring it is manageable. In my role that involves seeing it in others and making sure it isn’t symptomatic of a problem that needs to be addressed."

For Paul it was slightly different, he said: "My daughter makes me laugh, a walk with the dog failing which a good beer or glass of wine helps."


Another fun fact was asking the team 'what they wanted to be when they grew up?'

Paul was an easy one, it wasn't a case of what but who, "James Bond!"

For partner Tim, the army proved quite a draw. He said: "I could list so many, but when I left school at 15 I was going to join the army to drive a tank, as a junior leader. Unfortunately (or perhaps not if the defence of the realm depended on me!) the week before I was to leave Harrogate fate intervened and set me on a different path."


Any pet hates in the workplace?

Tim said: "At the moment, the air conditioning that blows out cold air in the winter and warm air in the summer. Trying to get it resolved is turning into one the Labours of Hercules."

For Banning, it was "Pompous diction, best dealt with by Track Changes!"


Last but not least, we wanted to know what the future has in store for the business...

When asked where he sees the company in five years time, Paul said: "We’re always on the look out for good lawyers but steady organic growth is the most sustainable way to build the business and we will continue with that."

And his view was echoed by Tim, who concluded: "Bigger but not hugely so – steady growth and increasing our local profile in the north east – at the moment the majority what we do is for clients out of the area (historical connections that have continued to be fruitful)."


To find out more about the Clarke Mairs team and what services they offer, visit their website at