ONE of the region’s most experienced solicitors has a career spanning 40 years during which time he has helped to build up a substantial legal practice with offices throughout the North-East.

John Pratt, a partner in BHP Law, formerly Burt Hart and Pratt, runs the business from its head office in Darlington, but with a keen eye on opportunities for growth.

He was a pupil at Darlington Queen Elizabeth Grammar School before graduating in law from Northumbria University.

After completing his legal training in Guildford, he returned to his roots and started his career serving articles at LJ Heron and Co in Durham, in 1975.

He qualified as a solicitor in 1977 and was promoted to partner two years later. The firm then became known as Burt, Hart and Pratt.

In 1993, Burt Hart and Pratt merged with Steavensons Plant and Park, a long-established Darlington firm and Blackett Hart and Pratt was formed, which now trades as BHP Law. It operates as a true regional practice with offices in Newcastle, Tynemouth, Durham, Darlington and Stockton.

John said: “We have 85 members of staff across our offices and many of them have been with us for a substantial number of years. For example, our risk manager, Anne Lane, started in the business as an office junior and has just completed 38 years of employment.”

His firm’s unique selling point is that it is a true regional practice. He said: “People like to see their solicitors where they live and you have to be a certain size to be able to provide that service.

“Our regional network really pays dividends and gives our clients what they need.

“We look after business and private clients alike and our aim is always to treat clients as we would like to be treated ourselves We pride ourselves on the fact that more than 75 per cent of our new work comes from existing clients — hopefully a sign that we are doing something right.”

Five Minutes with John Pratt

What is your favourite North-East building?

Stadium of Light — for better or worse

What was your first job and how much did you get paid?

£15 a week as an articled clerk. I was asked at the interview if I would be expecting a salary.

What is the worst job you’ve had?

A milk round because I had to get up at 4am.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner?

What-ever Marks & Spencer had on offer.

What would your superpower be?

I would like to be able to speak the language fluently of every country I visited.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party?

Henry Cecil, Michael Parkinson, Judy Dench and Julie Walters.

What is the most expensive thing you’ve bought – other than car or house – and how much was that item?

A racehorse, Full Speed, which never managed to live up to its name.

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter?

I don’t use twitter having just mastered emails

What is your favourite book?

Anything by John Grisham

What is your greatest achievement?

Persuading my wife to marry me and getting my daughters safely from childhood through to adulthood.

What’s the best piece of advice in business you’ve ever been given?

Never give up.

What is your favourite animal?

My labrador — Mungo.

Most famous person on your mobile phone?

Amanda Berry, head of BAFTA, who hails from Richmond in North Yorkshire.

Describe your perfect night in?

A night in with friends, a game of cards and a lovely meal.

In another life I would be...

A bookmaker

Who would play you in a film of your life?

Max Bygraves — I am told we look alike.

What irritates you?


What’s your secret talent?

I’m not bad at delegating, so my colleagues and wife tell me.