Advocates for Aycliffe

1st October 2022


AMID the widespread hardships created by Covid-19, many businesses learned valuable lessons during the two years of lockdowns – and BHP Law was among them.

Like millions of companies worldwide, BHP Law had to move swiftly to more flexible working arrangements when the pandemic struck in the Spring of 2020. And having staff working from home underlined the fact that BHP Law had a cluster of highly experienced members of its team living in the Aycliffe area.

“Agile working helped reinforce the fact that we had a lot of expertise and experience on the doorstep,” says Rosie Woodward, an Associate of the practice and Chartered Legal Executive, who has lived in Aycliffe since she was a teenager.

The result is that Rosie – alongside fellow Aycliffe resident and BHP Law partner Jemma Ebdon – is now spearheading BHP Law’s ‘Aycliffe Initiative’ to provide stronger legal representation for the growing number of businesses and residents in the area.

Aycliffe Business Park – boosted by the arrival in 2015 of the Hitachi train assembly plant – is now home to more than 500 companies, employing around 10,000 people. Business expansion has been matched by residential growth and BHP Law believes there is strong local demand for its full range of legal services.

“Aycliffe has become a vibrant hub for businesses, and that has had a knock-on effect residentially, so it makes complete sense for BHP Law to raise its profile in the area,” adds Rosie. “We already have a strong customer-base in Aycliffe – both business and residential – but it’s about building on those foundations. Jemma and I, as Aycliffe residents, will be the main points of contact.”

BHP Law is one of the region’s longest-established legal firms, with roots dating back to the early 1800s, and has offices in Darlington, Durham, Tynemouth, Newcastle and Stockton. There are 12 specialist teams focused on: Commercial and Agricultural Property; Commercial Litigation and Business Disputes; Corporate and Commercial Law; Court of Protection; Employment Law; Family Law; Letting and Property Management Services; Notary Public Services; Personal Injury and Medical Negligence; Residential Conveyancing; Personal Disputes Resolution; and Wills, Trusts and Probate.

Mum-of-four Rosie works in Corporate and Commercial Law and Dispute Resolution which  specialise in mergers and acquisitions, management buy-outs, financing, incorporations, licensing, franchising, and disputes in land, construction and engineering, possession, debt recovery,  nuisance, and defamation.

When she was growing up, she travelled extensively because her father worked for the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI). She was born in Surrey, but has lived in Germany, Ireland, Devon and Darlington, before settling in Aycliffe when she was 17.

“I love Aycliffe because it’s actually very green and open, and it’s a great community with friendly people,” she says.

Asked what first attracted her to the law, Rosie laughs as she recalls a famous childhood film, called Curly Sue, in which Kelly Lynch plays a compassionate lawyer.

“It struck a chord with me, and I just liked the idea that you can help people by working in the law,” she says.

She was also inspired by her late Auntie Jackie, a respected barrister and lecturer with CILEX (the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives), who encouraged her to pursue a career in law.

Rosie started her legal career in 2004 as a conveyancing assistant with Darling and Stephensons solicitors in Darlington and joined BHP Law as a residential conveyancer in 2007. Three years later, she accepted an offer to join the Disputes Resolution Team and BHP Law paid for her training with CILEX. She graduated in 2018 and became a fellow of CILEX in 2019.

Rosie has continued to build her experience and is looking forward to helping drive new business on her home patch, where she has become embedded in the local community. Her local interests include being a member of Great Aycliffe and Middridge Partnership – a grass roots group working to promote events in the area – and she recently applied for a position on the Board.

She is also passionate about her role as an Ambassador for Dementia Friends, an initiative launched by the Alzheimer’s Society to educate people about dementia as well as raising money for research.

“My Nan died from vascular dementia, and my Grandad has Alzheimer’s, so it’s a subject very close to my heart,” she explains.

Meanwhile, Jemma Ebdon, who recently became the 11th partner at BHP Law, will also be using her extensive local connections to support Rosie in the firm’s Aycliffe initiative.

Mum-of-two Jemma is a shining example of how BHP Law invests in its own talent. She moved to Aycliffe from Bishop Auckland when she was seven and has lived there ever since, having started her career in the legal sector when she took a Saturday job with a different law firm when she was just 16.

Jemma joined BHP Law in 2010 as a personal assistant to Senior Partner, Peter Blackett, and took the opportunity to join the conveyancing team as a secretary two years later. She then committed to a five-year training programme to become a licensed conveyancer, with BHP Law funding the course.

That led to her becoming licensed under the Council of Licensed Conveyancers, making her a fully-fledged property lawyer, and rising to become team leader of the 18-strong conveyancing department.

“Extremely proud” to have now been made a partner in the practice, Jemma specialises in all areas of residential conveyancing, and is looking forward to supporting the firm’s increased activity in Aycliffe.

Jemma and Rosie make a formidable team, with strong local roots, and are looking forward to attending networking events in Aycliffe and building the customer-base in the area.

“Aycliffe has seen so much growth in recent years, and it’s a really close-knit community and great place to live. Hopefully, that growth is going to continue, so it makes perfect sense for BHP Law to use its expertise and local connections to provider stronger legal support in the area. It’s my home patch, where I grew up, so it’s a great opportunity to grow the business,” says Jemma.


To contact Jemma Ebdon: Tel: 01325466794

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