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New employment team marks a milestone for Square One Law

DYNAMIC legal firm Square One Law has unveiled its new employment team as its rapid growth continues apace.

Since its launch last summer the Jesmond-based commercial law firm three founding partners– Ian Gilthorpe, Alan Fletcher and Robin Winskell – have attracted five high-profile partners.

The most recent arrival is high-profile South African-born lawyer Jean-Pierre van Zyl who heads up its employment team. 

Jean-Pierre will be joined a rising legal star, Liz Cotton, from the Liverpool office of national Top 30 firm Hill Dickinson, to form the initial employment leadership team.


After working with a firm of London lawyers on arrival in the UK 11 years ago, Jean-Pierre came to Newcastle to work for niche regional employment firm Short Richardson and Forth seven years ago, where he was one of two employment partners and worked with national clients.

He said: “I was mightily impressed by Ian, Alan and Robin’s wish to strike out on their own, their clear vision for how they saw their firm operating, and what they wanted it to be.

“The thing that strikes me the most is the positive energy from colleagues, which is remarkable. This is one of the reasons why I believe we are able to attract tremendous people to work for us.”

Attracting Liz to the North East is a major coup and is testament to the quality of work and clients we are attracting, and the positive energy that permeates throughout.  My aim is to recruit a third lawyer by the end of the financial year.

“She is a highly impressive lawyer, used to working with major companies and this is an example of how we are creating a firm that can attract the best of big firm talent and standards from the start.

Jean-Pierre continued: “The cornerstone of Square One Law is the trust we have in each other. The trust to know we can refer our clients to our colleagues with absolute confidence.

“Most importantly, our clients trust us, and know we will give them pragmatic advice.

“We are a firm of self-assured, experienced lawyers, a firm that has enough confidence in our ability and the ability of our colleagues to challenge and be challenged by each other.”

Jean-Pierre says he is also impressed by the strong client portfolio which includes leading North East entrepreneur Sir Peter Vardy and Billingham-based Able UK.

Cramlington-based Miller UK and Newcastle-based Shepherd Offshore are clients as is North East entrepreneur Nigel Mills, founder of the Mills Group, and current chairman of The Entrepreneurs Forum.

The employment team has hit the ground running, recently handling tribunal work for a national retail chain with over 8,000 staff, and providing corporate support as the firm acted for Lanchester Wines on the acquisition of a business from administration.

It aims to provide first-rate services for senior managers, executives, owner-managed businesses, and multi-national commercial clients with many thousands of staff.

It is flexible enough to offer bespoke packages which can provide cost certainty, as well as offering support functions such as human resources and training.

Senior Partner Ian Gilthorpe said: “The creation of a new employment team headed by Jean-Pierre with Liz in support is a major milestone in our growth and development for Square One Law.

“We continue to attract a high quality group of people and have in place a leadership team with the drive, ambition and relevant strengths to take this firm forward and build upon our successful start.”

Jean-Pierre added: “The North East is a wonderful place to work with a vibrant commercial centre, great culture, history, countryside and access to many fantastic beaches.

“The offices out here in Jesmond are also ideal, easily accessible and fresh, airy and light. You can even hear the birds singing in the trees outside my office window.

“From here we want to grow the firm and our employment client base and are very excited about the future.”

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