Senior partner at leading Lancaster firm retires from partnership

It is the end of an era as the senior partner at long-established law firm Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand, David Gillibrand, is set to retire from full-time work.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 3:56 pm
David Gillibrand, who has retired from the partnership at Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand.

David left the partnership on May 31 but is to continue as a consultant, for one day a week.

For the first time there isn’t an Oglethorpe, a Sturton or a Gillibrand in the partnership – but David has no fears for its future.

“The firm has grown organically over all these years," he said. "Many of our staff have trained and qualified with us and that leads to loyalty and long-standing attachment to the firm. It’s a nice place to work.”

Indeed, he is succeeded as senior partner by David Park, who started as his trainee.

Paying tribute to his mentor, who has been a great support and help throughout his own career, Mr Park said: ‘’On behalf of the partners, I would like to put on record our appreciation of all that David has done for the firm over the years.

“We are grateful David has agreed to stay on as a consultant, so we will still have the benefit of his knowledge and experience.”

Mr Gillibrand, 67, has specialised in litigation in all areas, including commercial disputes, property, personal estates, employment and personal injury.

His interest in law blossomed early, working at Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand’s Lancaster office during his school and university breaks whilst his father, John, was a partner.

He took a degree in law and economics at the University College of Wales in Aberystwyth, did his law finals at the College of Law in Chester and qualified as a solicitor in 1979 with Magic Circle firm Allen & Overy.

David returned home to Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand in 1982 as an associate solicitor, developing his training in property, agricultural and commercial law as well expanding on his litigation experience from his time at Allen & Overy.

An excellent litigator, David has been known throughout his career for taking a pragmatic and economic approach to dispute resolution, always aiming to avoid the use of the courts as far as possible.

“Going to court is an uncertain and expensive business where you leave your fate to a third party who might not agree with your case,” he said. “You are better trying to find your own resolution and finding a way of settling rather than risk going to court.”

Some of the cases he has dealt with had millions of pounds at stake but at the other end of the scale was a hotly fought dispute about a pen which cost just £12. “That client became one for life,” he smiled.

David became a partner of the firm in 1985, then managing partner, before succeeding his brother Martin as senior partner in 2014.

He’s seen major changes at Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand, especially evolution of the “tools of the trade”, moving from manual to electronic typewriters and then word processors before operating systems were completely computerised.

The firm itself has grown from around a dozen staff to nearly 50 today.

“We virtually rebuilt the office in Lancaster in the 1990s so it now holds about 40 staff as opposed to 14," he said. "We had thought about moving to other premises but stayed because we loved our homely Georgian building, in the precincts of the castle.”

Paying further tribute to Mr Gillibrand’s hard work, Mr Park said: “For many years, until not so long ago, he almost singlehandedly took on the management of the firm and much of its success is down to his vision, drive and ability.”

Most of all, David is proud of ‘keeping the joy of working in a lovely place with wonderful people’.

He added: “I have no doubt that David (Park) will preside over the future success and prosperity of Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand.”