Essex law firm announces new Chairman

Birkett Long is delighted to announce that Philip Hoddell will be taking over the role of Chairman from 1 June 2022.

Philip takes over from Kurt Goddard, who has held the position since June 2019 and is stepping down from the Partnership, but remaining with the firm as a consultant.

The Managing Partner will continue to be Martin Hopkins for another three-year term. Martin became Managing Partner in 2019.

The designation of Chairman came about in the 2000s. Previously, the role of Senior Partner was one with responsibility for the wellbeing of the Partnership and the wider firm, and would typically be filled by an experienced Partner with a good profile who could represent the firm externally, as well as acting as a sounding board/listening ear to the Managing Partner. The Chairman focuses on some similar responsibilities, as well as chairing meetings of the Operations Board and Partnership.

Philip, a Partner since 1994, was a natural choice, having been with the firm and at the heart of the local community for a monumental 35 years.

His successful legal career was launched when, as a teenager at a careers meeting at college, he was advised to consider law. This led to Philip studying Law and Politics at Cardiff University and, after a gap year travelling around Australia, he attended Law College in Chester.

His journey to qualifying as a solicitor was launched when he relocated to Essex with his future wife and wrote to the two biggest firms in the area in search of a job. Smith, Morton & Long offered him a trainee position and his journey with the firm began.

Following two years of training, Philip qualified as a solicitor in 1989. He has seen many changes to the law firm over the years including the rebranding from Smith, Morton & Long to Birkett Long in 1995 and, more recently, significant growth and modernisation.

Philip, 58, is a member and past President of Suffolk and North Essex Law Society, a member of Colchester Solicitors Group, an accredited member of the Law Society’s Family Law Panel, a member of Colchester Collaborative Solicitor’s Group, a member of Resolution, and a member of the Court of Essex University.

He is also a former member and Chairman of Colchester Round Table and current Governor and former Personnel Committee Chair of Colchester Royal Grammar School.

As an RFU-accredited former coach at Colchester Rugby Club for over 10 years and a friend of the Mercury Theatre, Philip enjoys being at the heart of, and giving back to, the local community.

Philip’s vision is for a continued evolution of the Chairman’s role, keeping the firm’s purpose at the heart of his priorities. He said: “I am very much looking forward to taking over the role of Chairman at Birkett Long. I started life here in 1987 as a trainee solicitor (then known as an articled clerk) having been the first generation of my family to go to university. I will always be grateful for the opportunities that I have been given, and to those before me who have given me guidance and advice. I intend to help ensure that future colleagues are, in turn, given as much opportunity as possible. Birkett Long aims to be here for the good of our clients, our colleagues and our communities, and I am very excited about my chance to continue to play a significant part in the firm’s future development.”

Former Chairman, Kurt Goddard, said: “It has been a privilege to have been Chairman of Birkett Long for the last three years. Despite difficult circumstances for our Partners and staff in that time, the firm has prospered and grown and we are so privileged to have the amazing team that we do. I am delighted to hand over the role to Philip Hoddell who will no doubt oversee yet further progress for Birkett Long.”

Birkett Long is here for good. It’s not just about knowing the law. It’s also about the impact we have on businesses and our communities. Birkett Long has offices in Chelmsford, Colchester and Basildon. It provides a wide range of legal and independent financial services for business including corporate and commercial advice, regulatory law, dispute resolution, education, insolvency, intellectual property and employment and for individuals: wills and conveyancing, family law, independent financial advice and dispute resolution.

For more information, visit or call 01206 217300.

Image: Philip Hoddell

Photo credit: Phil Jones Photography

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