The firm was established by Alec Willans in 1947: after wartime service in the Navy, he qualified and put up his own brass plate within a year. He moved the business to 28 Imperial Square in 1950—an era when the junior secretary earned £3/15 shillings a week and her first job of the day was to light the coal fires. Alec took on a few keen young lawyers and began building a reputation.
It was not until the 1980s that the real wave of change hit the legal profession. It became clear that the writing was on the wall for GP lawyers and accountants and the future lay in specialisation.
Mergers and headhunting
So over the next decade, we put energy into attracting first-class people—lawyers with the talent to build a high calibre practice.
A number of practitioners joined along the way so that what we have today is a mix of eight firms—Peak & Gyles, Stannard & Moss, Davey Son & Jones, Martyn Jones, John Yeend, Lester Maddrell, John Todman and the original Willans. We have variously been known as Willans, then Willans & Co in 1961, Willans & Gyles in 1975 and Willans Stannard & Davey in 1987. We reverted to just Willans in the early 1990s, adding LLP to our name in June 2008 when we became a limited liability partnership.
In 2008 we were proud to be awarded Lexcel accreditation by the Law Society. Lexcel is effectively a stamp of quality assuring clients that this is a well-run firm and one that provides a high quality service.