Greenwoods ‘thriving’ after shocking tragedy, says founder’s daughter
Last updated Oct 6, 2023
Photo of Camilla Greenwood of Greenwoods Solicitors.

When Greenwoods Solicitors attended the Yorkshire Legal Awards on Thursday, for director Camilla Greenwood it felt as if they had already won. 

It’s been 18 months since her mother, Knaresborough solicitor Lynda Greenwood, tragically died in a fire at her home in Brearton, leaving the firm’s future up in the air. Camilla had a job she enjoyed with Leeds law firm Irwin Mitchell, and the magnitude of carrying on her mother’s legacy was daunting. 

Speaking exclusively to the Stray Ferret, she said: 

My family home had just burned down, my mum, who was my only relative, had died, and I could barely even feed myself. The thought of dealing with all this – I didn’t know if I had it in me. 

“But then it became a sort of security blanket. This was my mum’s lifetime’s work and she was a pillar of the community. And it wasn’t just about me; it was everyone else who was involved as well – the members of staff, and the clients with ongoing cases.” 

Lynda founded Greenwoods in 1991 and was determined it would be a trusted part of the local community. The firm now has a team of six – Camilla calls it “small but mighty” – and has just appointed a seventh to help it cope with an increase in private client work. Now, Camilla wants to continue the firm in the spirit her mother intended, maintaining the very human ethos that elicited loyalty among clients. 

She said: 

“My mum opened Greenwoods when I was six months old, so I saw it all – I used to do my homework at a desk in the office. I grew up here, so I felt partly raised by the firm, really. 

“You’ve got to carry on. She did that too – she set up this firm so she could have me, so we extend that support to other parents. Our new employee has a little boy, so we’ll alter her working hours so she can take him to school and pick him up – because that’s what the firm was for.

“You don’t have to have one or the other – you can have a family and a career, and we’ll support you with that.” 

The firm, which has a double frontage on Knaresborough’s High Street, applies the same kind of human approach to its dealings with clients. Camilla said: 

“We know that moving house is really stressful, so give us a ring and you’ll speak to the same person every time you call the office – you’re not going to be fobbed off with a ‘press 1 to speak to…’. You’re not a number, and that’s something that has to be relevant to staff and clients.” 

Photo of the team at Greenwoods Solicitors in Knaresborough.

The Greenwoods team dressed for the awards season.

Camilla is soon going to have reason to take advantage of her firm’s family-friendly employment policies, as she’s due to have her first baby at the end of November. She said: 

Timing is everything, isn’t it?! I found out I was pregnant in the week of the anniversary of my mum’s death. It was very spooky. 

“Just when I thought I was gaining some control and thought I had reins on the situation, here comes generation three!” 

It was a lovely and unexpected twist in the tale of Greenwoods’ survival after such a shocking tragedy, and it seems fitting that Camilla’s daughter will be brought up “in the firm” just as she was. It also feels in some way like a vindication – a seal of approval – on Camilla’s decision to carry on the business. She said of that time: 

“It took a lot of soul-searching, but once I’d made the decision to do it, there was very little that was going to stop me. I needed the ground to stop shaking after the earthquake for me to take a breath and say ‘let’s do this’, and since I made the decision to do it, magical stuff has happened.” 

That “magic” isn’t just confined to the imminent new arrival. Greenwoods has been nominated for several awards over the last few months, and has won some of them, including Family-Run Business of the Year at the Knaresborough Business Awards, which Camilla says was “really special and touching” . 

Now, with a growing team, local praise for the firm’s newly refurbished offices, and a slew of five-star client reviews, Camilla says things are very much looking up: 

“We’re getting recognition from the industry, from clients and from the community. I feel quite emotional about it. I know my mum would be so proud.” 

Greenwoods didn’t win the awards they were shortlisted for at the awards ceremony in Leeds on Thursday evening, but Camilla says it doesn’t matter – the transformation of the firm’s fortunes over the last 18 months feels like a huge win in itself. She said: 

“Literally a couple of days after the fire, I was shell-shocked and one compliance solicitor in London told me I had two options: either close or dispose of the firm. But I thought ‘those aren’t my only options; there is another choice: I do this, I find a way and make it work’ – and I have done.

“We’re not just coping, we’re thriving, and I think that needs celebrating.”

Read more: