Branch Austin LLP Info
Branch Austin LLP Solicitors in Mayfair, London: Review
If you've read any of our other articles before, you'll know that we don't put a lot of stock in 'established in ...' ancient date claims by law firms. We've seen very tenuous links before including one firm that claimed their history went back 200+ years because they moved into the building previously occupied by an older firm. No, really.
So when we see a firm claiming to have a history going back to the 1561 - so long ago there was an entry in the Guinness Book of Records about it - we were sceptical, but very interested. The main reason we dislike such claims is that typically a firm claiming to have hundreds of years history are doing so because they have nothing much else to boast about. So giving the impression they are well established and experienced is their last gambit for impressing any potential clients passing through their website. But we'll come back to whether Branch Austin fit this description later.
Another common claim made by law firms is that they have a good reputation in the industry. Can Branch Austin back this up? Well, certainly they are listed in the Legal 500 which as you can imagine from the number - is fairly high praise from the industry. The database publicly lists the sort of criteria used when creating the Legal 500 list too. The boxes that need to be ticked off for inclusion do mostly revolve around things that benefit the client
There is also some confusion about the word 'specialist' when it comes to law firms. Firms that handle a single case type call themselves 'specialists' giving the impression that firms handling a wider range of matters are not so. However it really all depends on how the firm is set up. For example, if the firm has a handful of solicitors all handling everything from divorce to personal injury and on up to commercial property - then yes, we would agree they might be a little less expert in each field. The jack-of-all-trades situation.
But if a firm claims to handle a wide range of case types and then has individual solicitors handling each specific type of case - then claiming to be 'specialists' seems perfectly fair. So how can you tell if a firm has specialist or jack-of-all solicitors?
Luckily this firm is registered with The Law Society of England & Wales which has the best user-side data offering out of all the law societies we've seen. If you check out the page for any firm on the law society's site you can see alternate trading names, other office locations, staff names, languages spoken and (most importantly for our question) the qualification dates and case specialties of each solicitor working within the firm.
Branch Austin has a wide range of experience amongst their staff with solicitors who started their careers in all five of the last decades. We've been reviewing law firms for over twenty years and have never seen a firm with such a wide range of experience amongst the lawyers within. For example, at the time of writing the firm lists Steven Gardner who qualified as a solicitor back in 1970, Tania Austin (qualified in 1984), Harender Branch (1999), Hal Branch (2001), Elliot Hammer (2014), right up to Sheida Zeinali who qualified in 2021. It's always been said to never ask a lady her age, but I hope the female staff of Branch Austin will forgive us posting their qualification dates in this instance to showcase their firm.
That brings us back to the original query at the start of this article about whether this firm has anything beyond just comments about having a long history. As mentioned before, such a huge range of seasoned professionals mixed with fresh legs and ideas has not been seen by us in over twenty years of working with law firms. It's an enviable status to have which can surely only benefit clients.
Speaking of clients, the most common thing people check on when researching services they might use online is previous client reviews. On this occasion the firm we're talking about doesn't list any testimonials on their own website. However according to our poll last year, only 8% of you trust the testimonials that companies display anyway. The majority of people search the third party review boards such as Google, Trustpilot, Yell.com, Yelp, etc.
"Extremely helpful, always on hand to answer questions"
"polite, efficient and extremely professional"
"speedy replies and continuous support"
One of the main themes was the firm's friendliness and availability as you can see from these snippets above. There were also several comments about how fast the process had been whether for a property sale or immigration matter. There were a couple of negative ratings, but unfortunately the reviewers left absolutely no comments for us to know what generated their disappointment.
When it comes to law firms it is always a good idea to read the actual comments anyway rather than just flick through the ratings. The legal industry seems to be treated quite differently to others. For example, you would never see a bad review for Pizza Hut saying 'they wouldn't sell me a hamburger! ridiculous!!'. But we've seen several people complain about a solicitor for not handling their particular type of case. We've even seen negative comments from the losing side in a court matter. So don't take any negative ratings as meaning anything unless there are explanatory (non-stupid) reasons given.
There was plenty of other things to like about Branch Austin which is why they've been added to our database of solicitors. For example they have staff profiles that provide a photo, contact information, and a brief description of expertise and experience. We have always encouraged firms to have such profiles on their website. In this Facebook/Instagram age - people really do feel more of a connection with a firm if there are photos and descriptions of the staff. What we don't like is when solicitors go too far and start listing their favourite foods and pet's names. That's just ... well ... yeah.
A quick note on navigation. The firm uses the dot com which is more international with the official website being at www.branchaustin.com but www.branchaustin.co.uk does redirect you there. Being the names of founder partners, the name is quite unique despite 'branch' being a generic term related to people searching for office locations. Still with the varied searches we tried, the firm did pop up correctly in the search results. We wouldn't expect many common typos causing issues either but would recommend either bookmarking the website or searching for it just the same.
When you accidentally type the wrong address into your browser bar, you can be taken to a fake site easily. It's a phishing scam that's been used for many years now. Another is for fraudsters to send out emails pretending to be their solicitor and stating that the bank details for the house deposit they're sending has changed. Why people fall for that and don't call their solicitor to check before sending tens of thousands of pounds - we don't know. But make sure never to discuss payments via email.
General Notes: Usually if Legal Aid is possible we've mentioned it above, but you can always ask. We haven't looked in depth at their recruitment program so are unaware of any job vacancies available. For a career with Branch Austin LLP it's best to visit the website (www.branchaustin.com), check opening hours, and find the correct phone/email contact details. Simply emailing a CV to reception looks lazy. Each law firm's Law Society and/or SRA number should be on their site, usually at the bottom of each page.
This Branch Austin LLP article is rated
4.6 / 5 based on 22 reviews. †
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