Friendly & Approachable

Our People

Our people are the basis of our business – highly talented and enthusiastic lawyers and back room staff who go the extra mile to deliver a superb level of professional service to our clients. As a rural practice, we understand that our clients can’t always come to us at convenient office times and this is just one of the factors that sets McGarry & Co apart from other legal advisors, delivering professional advice when and where it’s needed.

Michael B. McGarry

Partner

I left school at 16 and trained in Darlington and Barnard Castle as a Legal Executive. I moved to Hawes to practice in 1997 and became a Partner in Richard Johnson & Partners on qualifying as a Solicitor in 2004.

In 2011 I established McGarry & Co in Barnard Castle, quickly re-opening an office in Hawes in 2012. Clients have been kind to me and with effort the business has expanded, opening an office in Sedbergh in 2015 and following this up by opening an office in Leyburn in October 2017.

I am probably a dying breed of a general practitioner. I handle a wide variety of matters including Wills, powers of attorney, trusts and administration of estates, commercial property matters, agricultural land issues, business advice and Court of Protection deputyships amongst other things.

I enjoy the variety of work which allows me to advise clients across generations. It is nice (but worrying because of the passage of time) to realise that I am now acting for the grandchildren of grandparents I acted for in the late 1980s and early 1990s. I believe in providing a professional service but in a friendly and approachable way. This is the ethos which I try to instil throughout my firm.

I was an early member of the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners back in 1994 and I am a member of Solicitors for the Elderly. I am one of the Northern Panel Deputies appointed by the Court of Protection for people who have lost their mental capacity and who have no-one to take things on or if problems arise with either deputyship or in respect of Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Outside of the office (what little time is available) I enjoy spending as much time as I can with my family, three growing children.

Located at: Barnard Castle, Sedbergh & Hawes

Janice McKenna LLB (Hons)

Partner

I was admitted as a solicitor in 1990 after completing my training, working first as an Articled Clerk and then as an Assistant Solicitor for Sunderland firm MacKenzie Bell of John’s Street. After moving to the Darlington area in around 1997 I worked as a Solicitor, specialising in personal injury litigation and all aspects of family work for Tilly Bailey & Irvine Solicitors at their Barnard Castle office.

I worked for TBI for three years during which time I married and then stopped work for ten years in order to raise my two sons.

I was tempted back to work by Michael who wanted to provide family and matrimonial services to his clients.

I became a partner in 2012 and I have been very fortunate in being able to specialise in the areas of work which most interest me and they are Matrimonial, Children and all aspects of Family matters generally.

Located at: Barnard Castle, Sedbergh & Hawes

Janice specialises in: Family Law

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Antony Davies LLB (Hons)

Partner

I qualified as a solicitor in 1984 and worked in Skipton with Walker Foster Solicitors. In 1999 I left to set up my own firm and then in 2002 joined John Spencer’s already established rural practice “Spencer Davies” which I have continued after John Spencer’s partial retirement.

I handle a wide range of private client matters including residential and commercial conveyancing, wills and tax planning, administration of estates, lasting powers of attorney, business advice, agricultural land and farming matters.

I have always tried to provide a professional service in a friendly and approachable way, hopefully explaining the intricacies of the law in an easily accessible and understandable way. The administrative burdens of running a sole trader business whilst continuing to provide a high level of service have become increasingly more difficult and so I was delighted to be able to joint Michael McGarry and his team. We share a similar ethos and outlook and desire to continue to provide accessible and convenient legal services for our clients in the Yorkshire Dales.

Outside the office, I am involved in Rugby Union’s judicial process as an independent judicial chair and single judicial officer which has taken me all over the world. I am also a World Rugby accredited trainer of judicial officers though hopefully my long association with local club, Wharfedale, has kept me grounded.

James R. Fawcett LLB (Hons)

Associate Solicitor

I am a farmer’s son local to Wensleydale. I decided that I would like to pursue a career in the law and approached Johnsons at Hawes to look at work experience options. From that time onwards I have maintained an association with Michael McGarry and I was trained at Richard Johnson & Partners I Hawes. I qualified as a solicitor in 2009.

After a short spell at Freeman Johnson in Darlington I moved back to work with Michael McGarry at McGarry & Co in 2013.

I undertake mostly land related work, particularly residential and commercial conveyancing. I have been pleased to be instrumental in ensuring that the firm retains its Quality Conveyancing Scheme membership. I manage the Leyburn office of the Practice.

Outside of legal practice I continue to enjoy farming, assisting on the family farm. I also enjoy a number of sporting activities including squash and quoits together with socialising.

Located at: Leyburn, Barnard Castle & Hawes

James specialises in: Residential and Commercial Conveyancing, Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney

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E. Richard D. Johnson

Consultant Solicitor

I qualified as a Solicitor in 1970 and practised throughout my career in Wensleydale, being first a partner in Willan & Johnson and its successor Johnsons and then in the firm of Richard Johnson & Partners.

Michael McGarry was my assistant from 1997 through to 2004 and then my partner from 2004 to 2009. I have been delighted to be associated as a consultant for McGarry & Co in recent years.

I have wide experience of the administration of estates, rural land and farming matters and in respect of sporting rights and common land issues.

Whilst not engaged in day to day practice these days, I continue to enjoy good relationships as friends with the clients I have known over the last 50 years. This helps me to be in a position to provide consultancy advice to McGarry & Co.

Outside of legal practice, my love is the countryside and in particular grouse moor management with the occasional game of golf.

Located at: Hawes

Richard specialises in: Rural & Agricultural Law

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John Spencer MA (Cantab)

Consultant Solicitor

I qualified as a solicitor in 1974 and worked initially as a partner in the family firm in Bradford. I have however been fortunate enough to have lived all my life in the Dales.

In 1996 I was able to establish a sole practitioner rural legal practice in Grassington until 2002 when Antony Davies became my partner.

Whilst no longer working full time, I have remained a consultant and continue to support longstanding rural and farming clients (often now into their third and fourth generations) providing continuity and a lifetime’s experience of rural land and farming matters including administration of estates, conveyancing, wills and tax planning.

Outside the office, I have had a long and proud association with Rugby Union as an ex­ international player, past president of the RFU and manager of the British and Irish Lions. I am currently chair of the Barbarian RFC and president of Wharfedale RUFC.

Elizabeth Forrest LLB (HONS)

Associate Solicitor

I began my legal career as a trainee solicitor in 1993 in a Barnard Castle practice, having obtained my law degree from Newcastle University.

In 1995, I transferred to an office in Sedgefield, County Durham, where I practiced for over 27 years, becoming a Partner in 2002 and building a reputation as a general practitioner, and progressing to Head of Conveyancing.  I have many years of experience in probate work and preparing Wills as well as residential conveyancing.

Buying and selling a home can be stressful and confusing. I guide clients through the process, managing their expectations and providing support and advice throughout.

I offer a friendly and personal service to all my clients.  I believe in seeing clients for face-to-face appointments whenever possible, but I am also happy to consult with clients by telephone or Zoom if that is more convenient to them.

Throughout my career I have had numerous clients who have asked me to advise and assist them time and time again, and many of them have gone on to refer their friends and family to me.

In 2022, I returned to practice in Barnard Castle, with McGarry & Co, as an Associate Solicitor, where I aim to provide a welcoming, friendly, professional, and efficient service.

In my spare time, I enjoy making celebration cakes for special occasions for family and friends.

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Claire Haigh LLB (HONS)

Associate Solicitor

I completed the four year LLB (Hons) exempting degree at Northumbria University in Newcastle and then joined a high street legal practice in County Durham to undertake my training contract, qualifying in 2001.

I worked in a number of the firm’s branch offices in the South Durham area, gaining experience in various areas of law over the years and became a Partner in 2008.  However, I have been based in Barnard Castle since 2009, where my main areas of practice have been land law, predominately residential and commercial conveyancing, Wills and probate.

I was thrilled to be invited to join Michael and his team in March 2023 at his brand new office in Coniscliffe Road, Darlington, where I look forward to providing clients with a professional and personal service.

Outside of work, I enjoy spending time with my family, with most weekends spent ferrying my two younger sons to football training and matches.

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Vicky Johnson LLB (HONS)

Associate Solicitor

I earned a first-class honours degree in Law from Durham University in 2001 and completed the Legal Practice Course at Northumbria University in 2004 with Distinction, achieving Northumbrian Water Property Solutions’
Award for ‘Best Conveyancing Student’.

I qualified as a solicitor in 2006 and have worked in the Barnard Castle area for most of my career, 10 years of which was as a Partner in a local firm.

In February 2023, I was delighted to join McGarry & Co Solicitors to work at their new Darlington office on Coniscliffe Road.  I love the ethos of the firm, which is to provide clients with a friendly, approachable and personal service.

My areas of work are in conveyancing, Wills and probate, and Lasting Powers of Attorney.

Outside of the office, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and have a huge passion for music as a singer songwriter.

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Jackie Schofield LLB (HONS)

Associate Solicitor

I joined McGarry & Co in 2021 with 16 years’ experience of practicing in private client matters.

I have the expertise and experience in dealing in the following aspects of private client work:

  • Preparation of Wills – ensuring a delicate balance is achieved between personal legacy and tax efficiency.
  • Probate and Administration of Estates
  • Lasting Powers of Attorney for Property & Financial Affairs – creation, registration and operation.
  • Lasting Powers of Attorney for Health & Welfare – creation, registration and operation.
  • Registration of Enduring Powers of Attorney
  • Court of Protection matters
  • Care fees planning and advice
  • Deeds of Variation

By taking the time to understand your personal circumstances, your wishes and priorities, I am able to provide a genuinely personal service. I also work alongside financial advisors and accountants as necessary, to ensure individuals’ expectations and needs are met. I have found my approach leads to long lasting client relationships, recommendations and referrals to family and friends.

I am also a Dementia Friend and have both personal and professional experience in dealing with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I adopt both a sympathetic and practical approach with clients in what can be an extremely difficult time.

I am located in our Barnard Castle, Leyburn and Sedbergh offices, and I am more than happy to see clients in their own home.

Outside of legal practice, I enjoy spending time with my family, growing my own fruit and vegetables, as well as walking our dog in the countryside.

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Jessica Stewart LLM

Associate Solicitor

Having completed my training contract with McGarry & Co, I qualified as a solicitor in March 2023. I undertook my law degree at the University of York and completed the Legal Practice Course and Masters in Law with Distinction at Northumbria University.

I have carried out work experience with McGarry & Co for many years prior to qualification, and, being from a farming family, understand and appreciate the array of legal issues that rural clients may have. As a general practitioner, I continue to advise in many areas of law, including conveyancing, Wills, probate and litigation, with a particular interest in land and property matters.

I currently work in the Darlington Mart office on a Monday, and our Barnard Castle office and the new Darlington office during the rest of the week.

Outside of the office, my sister and I have a herd of Belted Galloway cattle, with a business selling the meat. Aside from helping on our farm, I am heavily involved with County Durham Young Farmers Club, being the chairman of Durham City. I usually spend my time competing in many competitions across the country, becoming national champion in stockjudging and tug of war. I had the pleasure of representing England in stockjudging at the Royal Highland Show 2022. In any other spare time I have, I enjoy playing netball and play in a local league.

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Georgia Sunter LLM

Associate Solicitor

I am a newly qualified Solicitor after completing 2 years training here at McGarry & Co. I studied Law at the University of Cumbria before completing the Legal Practice Course with Masters at BPP Law School in Leeds. I deal with land matters, in particular residential and commercial conveyancing, Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate.

Outside of work I enjoy helping out on the family farm, especially at Lambing time and walking my Labrador, Bella.

Property & Conveyancing, Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Probate