Our People

Partners

Claire Poulton
Partner

Claire Poulton

Steve Wengraf
Partner

Steve Wengraf

Tony Illsley
Partner

Tony Illsley

Amanda Edwards
Partner

Amanda Edwards

Claire Poulton

Partner

Claire Poulton

Claire joined Rutherfords in September 2006 shortly after completing her Law Degree. Claire began work at Rutherfords as a paralegal, gaining experience in a variety of commercial and property transactions. 

Claire qualified as a solicitor in June 2010 and was made partner in January 2013. 

Claire has had the benefit of working in a variety of areas of law and is therefore able to apply this breadth of knowledge to all her work including drafting of commercial contracts, including debentures, bespoke internet agreements, standard terms and conditions of business and privacy policies; residential conveyancing transactions; share sales and purchases; data protection issues; commercial, company and contractual disputes; boundary disputes and Land Registry Adjudication matters.

Claire adopts a professional, warm and friendly approach which is welcomed by business and private clients alike.

Steve Wengraf

Partner

Steve Wengraf

Steve qualified in 1993 and became a Partner at Rutherfords in 2003.

Steve has wide litigation experience. He advises both individuals and business clients on various types of litigation and dispute resolution matters. These include professional negligence, business disputes of all types, landlord and tenant disputes, property disputes and general contractual disputes. He frequently attends in the County Court and High Court.

Steve also undertakes Claimant personal injury work. He became a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel in 1997. Steve deals with all types of  personal injury work (particularly catastrophic injury claims) including representing client’s interests in the Coroners Court.

In addition, Steve supervises Rutherfords’ Debt Recovery Department and Employment Department in his capacity as Litigation Partner.

Steve acts as the firm`s Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA) and Money Laundering reporting Officer (MLRO).

Tony Illsley

Partner

Tony Illsley

Tony qualified as a solicitor in 1990 and has a background of litigation experience including defending clinical negligence claims for healthcare professionals and panel membership of the Medical Defence Union. Tony became the partner in charge of the Private Client Department in 2007 and now specialises as a probate solicitor.

Tony deals with all aspects of private client work while managing the department including inheritance tax and tax reliefs, estate planning and will trusts, appointment of deputies, and dealings with the Court of Protection and Office of the Public Guardian. Tony acts as a professional executor and trustee on many estates, and as a professional deputy and attorney receiving referrals from the local adult safeguarding team.

Appointed the panel solicitor for the Staffordshire area for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, Tony regularly attends meetings at the Air Ambulance headquarters in Stourbridge and is proud to support and raise funds for this charity. Tony is also a panel member of the National Free Wills Network supporting over 70 local and national charities. 

With a litigation background, he also continues to deal with contentious probate cases including Inheritance Act claims, contesting a will, claims regarding lack of mental capacity, and claims for and against executors.

Tony is the compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) for Rutherfords LLP, the designated partner for the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the compliance partner for the firm`s COVID-19 policy and strategy during the national restrictions for the safety of staff and clients.

Amanda Edwards

Partner

Amanda Edwards

Amanda is a Chartered Legal Executive (FCILEx) and became a partner at Rutherfords in 2020. Amanda heads our Residential Conveyancing Department.

Amanda has worked in residential conveyancing for 15 years, qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2012.

Amanda studied for 4 years at Wolverhampton College University alongside her full time work and then became an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. After a further 2 years of studying, Amanda then qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive.

Amanda has headed our Residential Department since 2016 and has extensive experience in all matters of conveyancing.

Amanda is also qualified to be a commissioner of oaths.

Commercial

Claire Poulton
Partner

Claire Poulton

Daniella Tarbuck
Consultant Solicitor

Daniella Tarbuck

David Sketchly
Consultant Solicitor

David Sketchley

David Waterhouse
Consultant Solicitor

David Waterhouse

Joanne O'Reilly
Executive PA & Support Manager

Joann O’Reilly

Lauren Henderson
Solicitor

Lauren Henderson

Leah Davies
Legal Secretary

Leah Davies

Natalie Mellors
Solicitor

Natalie Mellors

Claire Poulton

Partner

Claire Poulton

Claire joined Rutherfords in September 2006 shortly after completing her Law Degree. Claire began work at Rutherfords as a paralegal, gaining experience in a variety of commercial and property transactions. 

Claire qualified as a solicitor in June 2010 and was made partner in January 2013. 

Claire has had the benefit of working in a variety of areas of law and is therefore able to apply this breadth of knowledge to all her work including drafting of commercial contracts, including debentures, bespoke internet agreements, standard terms and conditions of business and privacy policies; residential conveyancing transactions; share sales and purchases; data protection issues; commercial, company and contractual disputes; boundary disputes and Land Registry Adjudication matters.

Claire adopts a professional, warm and friendly approach which is welcomed by business and private clients alike.

Daniella Tarbuck

Consultant Solicitor

Daniella Tarbuck

Daniella is a Consultant Solicitor who has many years’ experience dealing with business owners mainly in the SME market as she enjoys the ‘hands on’ approach required when working alongside business owners and directors as part of their legal team. Having worked in commerce before her legal career, she adopts a practical and commercial view of transactional work and works hard to find a straightforward resolution for her clients.

Daniella was educated at Queen Mary’s High School for Girls and The University of Birmingham and trained at the Wilkes Partnership in Birmingham, following a period of working for Wragge & Co immediately after qualification.

She now enjoys working with the Rutherfords team to assist corporate and commercial clients achieve the best outcome they can from their transactions and has a particular interest in fast turnaround commercial bridging finance.

David Sketchly

Consultant Solicitor

David Sketchley

David is a Consultant Solicitor specialising in Commercial and Agricultural property and development work and related matters including partnership, Wills and successor advice.

David trained with Rutherfords, becoming a partner and then Managing partner before leaving to establish his own practice, Sketchley & Co, to allow him to concentrate on development and agricultural work.

Sketchley & Co merged with Dewes & Son, a long established Tamworth firm, with the two practices becoming Dewes Sketchley and later Dewes LLP. David continued as Managing partner. The practice was eventually sold to Fishers of Ashby with David working as a consultant.

David wanted to return to his roots and has now come full circle to where he started and we welcome him back to the fold as a Consultant with us.

David has many years’ experience and has acted for numerous property developers and farmers on all aspects of their work from original site development, farm acquisition and sales, partnership creation and disputes and commercial lease work for both Landlords and Tenants as well as their private client work. Other work includes acting on multiple farm sales involving PLC’s, the Crown and private owners. He has also advised partnership and company reorganisations primarily for the farming community together with wills and succession planning.

David has also negotiated deals with several major house builders including Persimmon, Bellway and Taylor Wimpey involving options, promotion agreements and conditional contracts, on schemes varying from 10 to 600 plus houses.

David Waterhouse

Consultant Solicitor

David Waterhouse

David has been a Solicitor for many years and has worked both in private practice, as a partner, and in industry for both large international companies and small local businesses as well as private individuals.

David now deals mainly with commercial property transactions and larger development projects.

Joanne O'Reilly

Executive PA & Support Manager

Joann O’Reilly

Joann is a highly experienced PA and joined Rutherfords in 2011.

Joann is PA to the Solicitors and Consultants in the Commercial Department, as well as Support Manager for the entire firm.

Lauren Henderson

Solicitor

Lauren Henderson

Lauren joined Rutherfords in 2015 as a Paralegal in our Corporate and Commercial Department.

Lauren started her training contract in 2017. She achieved a first class Law Degree and went on to graduate, achieving a Masters in Law (LLM) and completed her LPC.

Lauren has been an integral part of the Corporate and Commercial Department since joining Rutherfords. Lauren completed her training contract in 2019 and now works with the team on all Corporate and Commercial matters as a qualified Solicitor.

Leah Davies

Legal Secretary

Leah Davies

Leah joined Rutherfords in 2018 and assists Partner, Claire Poulton in the day to day running of the Commercial Department.

Natalie Mellors

Solicitor

Natalie Mellors

Natalie joined Rutherfords in 2019, as part of our expansion of our Corporate and Commercial Department.

Natalie started her career as a Trainee Solicitor in 2005 and qualified with a 2.1 law degree, with honours from Sheffield University in 2007.

With over 10 years’ experience, Natalie has been a fantastic addition to the team and brings with her over 10 years’ experience in all aspects of Commercial & Corporate Law.

Litigation

Caroline Lee
Solicitor – Employment Consultant

Caroline Lee

Hayden Mellowship
Trainee Solicitor

Hayden Mellowship

Jennifer Thompson
Legal Secretary

Jennifer Thompson

Louise Tyler
Legal Executive (CILEx)

Louise Tyler

Maisie Waller
Legal Secretary

Maisie Waller

Steve Wengraf
Partner

Steve Wengraf

Caroline Lee

Solicitor – Employment Consultant

Caroline Lee

Caroline qualified as a solicitor in 2002 and join Rutherfords as one of our Consultants in 2013.

Caroline is an extremely experienced solicitor, with an extensive background and knowledge on all aspects of employment law and HR Solutions.

Caroline advises on a vast range of Employment Law such as Recruitment and contract negotiation, TUPE and outsourcing advice, Discrimination Issues, Workforce restructures, Severance arrangement and Employment tribunal and appeal court advocacy.

Caroline is also a member of the Employment Lawyers’ Association.

Hayden Mellowship

Trainee Solicitor

Hayden Mellowship

Hayden joined Rutherfords in 2017 as a Paralegal. After completing his LPC at the University of Wolverhampton, Hayden became a Trainee Solicitor in August 2018.  He has since gone on to obtain a Masters in Law (LLM).

Hayden works alongside the Solicitors and Consultants in the Corporate and Commercial Department, as well as the Litigation Department, to provide support and to gain further experience in all aspects of these departments, as well as debt recovery.

Hayden also specialises in Data Protection advice in light of the recent introduction of the GDPR in 2019.

Jennifer Thompson

Legal Secretary

Jennifer Thompson

Jennifer joined Rutherfords back in 2014 and has over 20 years’ experience working as a Legal Secretary. She assists with the day to day running of the Litigation department.

Louise Tyler

Legal Executive (CILEx)

Louise Tyler

Louise qualified in 1997 as a Chartered Legal Executives (FCILEx) and has been part of the Rutherfords family for over 30 years.

Louise has extensive experience in the Litigation Department, dealing with both individual and business clients, on various types of litigation.

Louise specialises in business debt recovery and is also qualified to be a Commissioner of Oaths.

Maisie Waller

Legal Secretary

Maisie Waller

Maisie joined Rutherfords in 2019 and holds a CILEx Legal Secretary Level 3 Diploma.

Maisie is secretary to Steve Wengraf and assists him in the day to day running of the department.

Steve Wengraf

Partner

Steve Wengraf

Steve qualified in 1993 and became a Partner at Rutherfords in 2003.

Steve has wide litigation experience. He advises both individuals and business clients on various types of litigation and dispute resolution matters. These include professional negligence, business disputes of all types, landlord and tenant disputes, property disputes and general contractual disputes. He frequently attends in the County Court and High Court.

Steve also undertakes Claimant personal injury work. He became a member of the Law Society Personal Injury Panel in 1997. Steve deals with all types of  personal injury work (particularly catastrophic injury claims) including representing client’s interests in the Coroners Court.

In addition, Steve supervises Rutherfords’ Debt Recovery Department and Employment Department in his capacity as Litigation Partner.

Steve acts as the firm`s Compliance Officer for Finance and Administration (COFA) and Money Laundering reporting Officer (MLRO).

Residential

Abbie Sutton
Legal Secretary

Abbie Sutton

Amanda Edwards
Partner

Amanda Edwards

Lucinda Shelley
Legal Secretary

Lucinda Shelley

Sophie Mortimer
Residential Fee Earner

Sophie Mortimer

Abbie Sutton

Legal Secretary

Abbie Sutton

Abbie joined Rutherfords in 2016 and started as an office assistant, moving on to become a Legal Secretary in our Residential Department shortly after. Abbie also assists in the day to day running of the department.

Amanda Edwards

Partner

Amanda Edwards

Amanda is a Chartered Legal Executive (FCILEx) and became a partner at Rutherfords in 2020. Amanda heads our Residential Conveyancing Department.

Amanda has worked in residential conveyancing for 15 years, qualifying as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2012.

Amanda studied for 4 years at Wolverhampton College University alongside her full time work and then became an Associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. After a further 2 years of studying, Amanda then qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive.

Amanda has headed our Residential Department since 2016 and has extensive experience in all matters of conveyancing.

Amanda is also qualified to be a commissioner of oaths.

Lucinda Shelley

Legal Secretary

Lucinda Shelley

Lucinda is a Legal Secretary in our Residential Department, with over 30 years’ experience. She joined Rutherford’s in 2016 and assists in the day to day running of the department.

Sophie Mortimer

Residential Fee Earner

Sophie Mortimer

Sophie is a Fee Earner who works alongside Amanda Edwards in our Residential Department.

Sophie started her career as an Estate Agent back in 2003, eventually moving on to Residential Conveyancing in 2011.

Sophie joined our Residential Department in 2017 and has extensive experience and knowledge in residential property.

Wills and Probate

Emily Hawley
Associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (ACILEx) and PA to Head of Department

Emily Hawley

Sarah Hassell
Senior Private Client Paralegal & HR Manager

Sarah Hassall

Tony Illsley
Partner

Tony Illsley

Rebbeca Taylor
Chartered Legal Executive (FCILEx)

Rebecca Taylor

Emily Hawley

Associate of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (ACILEx) and PA to Head of Department

Emily Hawley

Emily joined Rutherfords in 2016 and is an Associate Member of the Institute of Legal Executives (ACILEx) and PA to Partner, Tony Illsley.

Emily has a degree in Law and Criminology and has qualified as a Paralegal. As an Associate Member of the Institute Emily is currently studying to be a Chartered Legal Executive and specialise in private client work.

Sarah Hassell

Senior Private Client Paralegal & HR Manager

Sarah Hassall

Sarah joined Rutherfords in 2014 and has over 15 years’ experience within the Private Client Sector.

Sarah is a qualified Paralegal and deals with all aspects of private client work but specialises in drafting Wills, Powers of Attorney and the elderly client arena. She also supervises the junior members of the private client team.

Sarah works alongside Partner, Tony Illsley, to assist with Business Development, and Pro Bono work for local charities like St Giles Hospice, Midlands Air Ambulance charity and the Birmingham Children’s hospital.

Sarah is also our HR Manager for the entire firm.

Tony Illsley

Partner

Tony Illsley

Tony qualified as a solicitor in 1990 and has a background of litigation experience including defending clinical negligence claims for healthcare professionals and panel membership of the Medical Defence Union. Tony became the partner in charge of the Private Client Department in 2007 and now specialises as a probate solicitor.

Tony deals with all aspects of private client work while managing the department including inheritance tax and tax reliefs, estate planning and will trusts, appointment of deputies, and dealings with the Court of Protection and Office of the Public Guardian. Tony acts as a professional executor and trustee on many estates, and as a professional deputy and attorney receiving referrals from the local adult safeguarding team.

Appointed the panel solicitor for the Staffordshire area for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, Tony regularly attends meetings at the Air Ambulance headquarters in Stourbridge and is proud to support and raise funds for this charity. Tony is also a panel member of the National Free Wills Network supporting over 70 local and national charities. 

With a litigation background, he also continues to deal with contentious probate cases including Inheritance Act claims, contesting a will, claims regarding lack of mental capacity, and claims for and against executors.

Tony is the compliance officer for legal practice (COLP) for Rutherfords LLP, the designated partner for the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the compliance partner for the firm`s COVID-19 policy and strategy during the national restrictions for the safety of staff and clients.

Rebbeca Taylor

Chartered Legal Executive (FCILEx)

Rebecca Taylor

Rebecca joined Rutherfords in 2018, as part of the expansion of our Private Client Department.

Rebecca has a wealth of experience working in Wills & Probate for over 11 years and qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2015.

Rebecca deals with all aspects of Private Client work such as Wills and Powers of Attorney but specialises in Administration of Estates (including farming estates and BPR/APR tax relief), Inheritance tax planning, Probate (including Grants of Probate, full administration and letters of administration) as well as deeds of variation and trusts.

Rebecca also has extensive experience in dealing with transfers of property to beneficiaries and trustees.

Accounts

Gary Cooksey
Finance Director

Gary Cooksey

Laura Ealing
Legal Cashier

Laura Ealing

Tony Green
Practice Manager

Tony Green

Gary Cooksey

Finance Director

Gary Cooksey

Gary spent 20 years working for international accounting practices, Arthur Andersen and Ernst & Young in audit and corporate advisory services, with the last 6 years working as Regional Operations director, as part of the senior management team for Ernst & Young’s Central UK Region. Gary also worked for 3 years, as Finance Director of a 12 partner commercial law firm in the Potteries before joining Rutherfords as part time Finance Director in 2007.

Gary was Director of Finance and Administration for another firm of Solicitors in Birmingham, which has recently been acquired by Knights Plc, and now also works for Knights Plc on various financial and commercial projects.

Laura Ealing

Legal Cashier

Laura Ealing

Laura has worked for Rutherfords for over 20 years and has gained a wealth of knowledge and experience during this time, working in our Accounts Department.

Laura deals with all aspects of Accounts with such tasks as overseeing transactions, reconciling accounts and day to day banking for the whole firm and ensuring compliance with the Solicitors’ Accounts rules.

Tony Green

Practice Manager

Tony Green

Tony joined Rutherfords in 2017 to cover Maternity Leave but has stayed on with the firm to assist with the day to day running of the Accounts Department as Accounts Manager. Tony is also responsible for the annual Legal Practice Standard Accreditation by Lexel.

Admin

Ciara Smith
Apprentice

Ciara Smith

Eileen Rae
Legal Secretary

Eileen Rae

Lynne Marshall
Receptionist

Lynne Marshall

Zoe Wright
Business Development Executive

Zoe Wright

Ciara Smith

Apprentice

Ciara Smith

Ciara is a recent addition to Rutherford’s, and joined us in 2019 under an Apprenticeship scheme.

Ciara is currently learning all aspects of each department and currently assists with Reception and Administration duties, whilst studying for her Diploma in Business Administration, as part of her Apprenticeship Role.

Eileen Rae

Legal Secretary

Eileen Rae

Eileen joined Rutherford’s in 2017 and is an experienced Legal Secretary who provides support and assistance within all departments of the firm.

Lynne Marshall

Receptionist

Lynne Marshall

Lynne joined Rutherford’s in 2018 and acts as our Receptionist. As a first point of contact with many clients, Lynne`s warm and courteous tone is an asset to the firm.

Lynne also assists with administrative duties, arranges for daily scanning of post and outgoing mail and provides support for the Accounts Department.

Zoe Wright

Business Development Executive

Zoe Wright

Zoe joined Rutherfords in 2012.

She has a wide ranging role which includes administration of Lexcel (The Law Society’s Legal Practice Quality mark for Rutherfords LLP), CQS (the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme), implementing practice management standards for the firm and updating the firm`s policies and procedures.

Zoe also deals with the administration of the firm’s case management software and provides updates and training to all staff.

In addition, she assists with the marketing and updates on the firm`s website and social media.

Contact us on: 01827 311 411 or [email protected]