Graham Ireland, senior consultant solicitor at WHN, retired from his role this month after spending 48 years with our firm, which he joined when he was just 17.

Many of WHN’s clients will know Graham, who worked at our Blackburn office for much of his career before transferring to our Clitheroe office. He held a wide variety of roles, starting as a clerk and progressing to the firm’s head of conveyancing, partner and director when the company incorporated.

Readers of the Lancashire Telegraph will also remember Graham fondly through his regular Q&A. He offered answers to readers’ questions on the residential property market and other issues for a number of years throughout the 2000s.

Graham reflects on his time with WHN, the changes in both the legal profession and the housing market during the past 48 years and shares his plans for retirement.

What have you enjoyed most about your time with WHN?

Shortly after leaving secondary school, I made up my mind that I wanted to work in the legal profession. I travelled into Blackburn intending to look for jobs and was fortunate enough to be taken on by Gilchrist Warburton & Co, the first firm that I saw when I arrived in Blackburn. Following mergers, that firm is now known as Woodcocks Haworth & Nuttall (WHN).

Since starting work, I have dealt with most areas of law but it was not until I had been working for Gilchrist Warburton & Co for about five years that I started dealing with residential conveyancing. I developed a passion for that area of law and that passion has continued throughout my career.

The most satisfying part is knowing that you have done a good job when a sale or purchase completes and there is a great deal of satisfaction in seeing the expressions on, for example, first timer buyers’ faces when they collect the keys for their new property.

What has changed in the legal profession during that time?

Like many other professions, solicitors have had to adapt in the way in which they work. When I first started work in 1974, we did not even have electric typewriters.

At that time, all typing was done on manual typewriters. We were one of the first firms in Blackburn to invest in an electric typewriter. Fax machines were also introduced and computers not long after that.

Nowadays, most communications are sent by email. This, in itself, has increased expectations on solicitors from other professionals dealing with residential conveyancing and, more so, from clients.

What’s changed in residential conveyancing?

The profession as a whole is heavily regulated and, in particular, regulations in relation to residential conveyancing have significantly increased, I would say, even more so, over the last 5 to 10 years.

Some time ago the Law Society introduced a Conveyancing Quality Scheme which is governed by them. It requires any members of the scheme to follow a strict code and also to carry out residential conveyancing to a high standard.

There are annual assessments which anyone carrying out residential conveyancing must pass. WHN Solicitors is accredited by the Law Society in relation to this scheme and I am proud to say that I was instrumental in our firm becoming one of the first to be accredited in this area for that scheme.

There are also other schemes of which WHN Solicitors is a member. Without these accreditations, solicitors are unable to act for lenders in connection with mortgage work. It is therefore extremely important to have these accreditations to be able to provide the wide range of work which clients expect.

Has there been a standout moment in your career?

One of my proudest achievements was being asked to deal with questions sent by readers of the Lancashire Telegraph which appeared in its weekly property section. I was proud to be asked because I took it as an endorsement that I was recognised as an expert in the area in which I worked. More recently, I presented careers advice to the pupils of a local secondary school.

Over the last two years, I have been advising clients of my intention to retire. I have been proud, and indeed humbled, by many of the comments and personal messages which I have received both from fellow professionals, colleagues at work and from clients, many of whom I have known, dealt with, and acted for, for over 40 years.

What advice would you give to your younger self if you were just starting out in your career?

I am not really sure. I am perfectly happy that I chose the right career path for me and I cannot think of anything specific which I would have done differently except, may be, dealt with residential conveyancing right from the outset.

However, I am satisfied that the work which I did when I first started working gave me a very good grounding for my professional career.

What do you plan to do in your retirement?

About a year ago, my wife and I were fortunate enough to be able to buy a piece of land close to our home, the intention being to landscape it and this will become a long term project. I enjoy cycling and would like to do more of that. I also have a guitar which is gathering dust and intend to spend more time playing that.


Whilst Graham is now enjoying his well earned retirement, our dedicated team of residential conveyancing experts are still here to help should you be buying or selling a property. For more details, click here.