David Pett can probably be counted as one of the grandees of the Birmingham legal world, having first arrived in Birmingham to join the tax department of Pinsent & Co in 1985. David’s twenty-four years at (what is now) Pinsent Masons included a period of substantial growth during 1996–2004. In 2009 he and his colleagues retired from this firm to found their own practice.
Pett Franklin is a boutique law firm operating from offices in 116 Colmore Row in the heart of Colmore Business District (CBD), catering to clients across England and Scotland. David, who, along with partner William Franklin, is a nationally-recognised leader in his field, describes his vision for the team as “a unique pulling-together of expert knowledge and understanding related to employee share ownership and management and employee incentives”. Both he and William are currently involved in advisory work for the Office of Tax Simplification; and the phrase ‘I wrote the book on that’ acquires a literal meaning for David, whose Employee Share Schemes remains a landmark text after sixteen years!
Much of Pett Franklin’s business is found in London, and given this fact we were interested to know what brought him to locate in CBD. “One of our first considerations had to be accessibility,” said David. “Most clients are outside of Birmingham, many in London, and with Snow Hill and New Street Station, you don’t get much better transport links… Birmingham offers access like no other city.” And David knows his trains, having recently completed a 9-year stint as a member of Network Rail, the company that operates the UK rail network.
For David, however, factors such as culinary, retail and public realm can be just as important for businesses – areas in which, he believes, CBD excels. Since first coming to work in CBD, one of the key changes David has seen has been the recent improvement in the area’s public realm. But he reserved greatest praise for the evolving Midland Metro project; David opined that the removal of bus routes from Bull Street and Corporation Street, and the projected tramlines will give Birmingham “a genuinely cosmopolitan feel, really emulating and improving on great European cities like Zurich or Geneva.”
Being a niche firm in such a dynamic district is never anything less than a challenge, but David seems happier than ever working in the second city. “Improvements to retail and leisure offerings have been incredible, especially in the case of small, dynamic independent restaurants” – CBD is a place where David socialises and relaxes as well as works, and he thinks that it is perfectly attuned to both sides of the business–pleasure coin. “In terms of culture, food, atmosphere – Birmingham has never been better,” he commented. Over the last five years “this area has become a place where we can be really proud to welcome clients.”
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