Austin Ryder Legal

About Private Office Legal Services

Private Office
and Austin Ryder

Private Office Legal Services | Solicitors acquired Austin Ryder & Co. Solicitors in 2018.  Established in 1954 and providing long term and trusting relationships with clients across Hertfordshire.

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We have dedicated specialists across the following legal sectors

Real Estate

Dispute Resolution

Private Client

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With us, you get to meet your specialist legal team to discuss your case…

Meet the Specialist Legal Team

Private Office Solicitors

Phil Simmonds

Phil Simmonds

Managing Partner | Head of Company & Commercial

Phil specialises in Litigation & Advocacy. He has Higher Rights of Audience (Civil Academic and Civil Advocacy). Phil also takes on Company Commercial work which includes Mergers and Acquisitions, Partnership Agreements and Partnership Buy-Outs. Phil gained his MBA (with Commendation) at Kingston University Business School.

Anca Mitrana

Partner | Head of Property

Anca specialises in Commercial Real Estate, Residential Real Estate and Private Client work. Anca qualified with a Legal 500 firm in Bloomsbury, London having already graduated with a First Class LL.B(Hons) and achieved a Commendation on her Legal Practice Course.

Leonard Scudder

Leonard Scudder

Partner | Head of Dispute Resolution

Leonard joined Private Office Legal Services in October 2018. Leonard is Joint Head of Austin Ryder Private Office Solicitors and is the Head of the Litigation Department, surveying the firm’s Dispute Resolution instructions whilst managing his own mixed caseload of company/commercial instructions.

James Hadley

Partner | Head of Private Client

James qualified as a solicitor in 1999 after graduating in Philosophy and Law at Birmingham University. James was latterly a Partner at a Top 200 UK Law Firm, and we are delighted that he chose to join our dynamic & growing team at Austin Ryder as Partner & Head of Private Client. James specialises in Trust Drafting, Trust Administration, Will Drafting, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate & Administration, and brings a wealth of experience to our growing Private Client team.



Philip brings a wealth of experience in conveyancing and commercial property work. He also brings a wonderful personality to our growing and increasingly diverse property team. Philip qualified as solicitor in 1977. Philip was brought up in South Wales where he set up and ran his own firms in partnership. As many proud Welshmen are - he is a keen sportsman. He has played the sport of table tennis to a very high level- and still plays competitively. He has also been active in areas other than high street legal practice including:

Chair - Welsh National Table Tennis Association

Legal adviser to Commonwealth Games Table Tennis Federation

Regional organiser - National Federation of Builders

Director- Commonwealth Games Federation of Wales

Political lobbyist for the Welsh Sports Association

Charitable Trustee- Wales Council for Voluntary Action

Bruce Crabb

Bruce Crabb

Consultant Solicitor

Bruce Crabb is a partner of Austen Ryder Private Office Solicitors, having joined the firm when it joined with Austin Ryder & Co. Bruce has had an impressive career which began with Austin Ryder & Co in 1968 and continues with Private Office Legal Services. Bruce’s expertise is in both residential and commercial property transactions, and he has a wealth of experience drafting wills and managing estates and probate.

Victoria Morgan

Victoria Morgan

Associate Solicitor

We are delighted to announce that Victoria has agreed to join our growing team of lawyers. Victoria begins her career with us on 5th September 2019. Victoria specialises in private client work, dealing with Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Probate & Administration of Estates. Victoria also has experience in real estate, dispute resolution and company commercial matters.



Abbie joined our team in September 2019, having recently completed her qualifying LL.B(Hons) law degree, - gaining a 2.1 at the University of Hertfordshire. Abbie will commence her Legal Practice Course in February 2020 and will simultaneously being her 2-year Training Contract with Austin Ryder Private Office Solicitors with a view to qualifying into either the Private Client or Property team.

Private Office Practice Support

Michelle Simmonds

Michelle Simmonds

Head of Administration

Michelle is Phil Simmonds’ Personal Assistant, and is also the Private Office Group’s Company Secretary and head of Administration. She is an Associate Member of the Personal Finance Society (“PFS”) and is currently studying her exams en-route to becoming a para-planner. Michelle enjoys riding her horses, keeping fit and ballet.

Annie Stubbs

Conveyancing Executive

23 years with us, and this is evident from her deep knowledge of the field and her exceptional case handling. Annie works within Maria Demetriou’s team to provide timely advice and proactive client care at each stage of the conveyancing process, and has particular proficiency in development/plot sales and purchases.

Sharon Farman

Legal Secretary

Sharon Farman has worked for Austin Ryder since 2007 and has undertaken a broad range of roles and has proven herself to be an adaptable and hardworking member of the Private Office team. Sharon’s role is primarily as Practice Assistant and provides the Waltham Cross office Fee Earners with help in the day to day running of their cases. Sharon also plays a pivotal role within the accounts department and coordinates the firm’s client recoveries.

Andrew Andreou

Andrew Andreou

Business Development Executive

Andrew joined the firm in 2015 as a Legal Executive and also provides business development support for the business. Andrew works with Maria Demetriou and her team in providing support to our significant and growing panel of national housebuilders to whom we provide efficient conveyancing services for - on numerous new-build projects. Andrew meets with our panel of national housebuilders as required to discuss their requirements in order to facilitate our evolving relationships, and to ensure an error free service for our partners.

Penny Moore

Penny Moore

Conveyancing Executive

Penny is a career conveyancer who has broadened her skillset through her career by working within and assisting other departments in commercial and dispute resolution contexts. In early 2019, Penny joined our residential property development team and works from our Waltham Cross office, using her abilities to help push through substantial volumes of development work with great expertise and standard of care. Penny enjoys spending time with family, following her local football team, helping with charitable work, dining out and going to the Theatre.



Wroni joined our growing team in September 2019. She is an exceptionally enthusiastic graduate from the University of Exeter, having gained a 2.1 BSc.(Hons) in Physical Geography with Business modules. Weronika provides support to all the fee earners as Legal Executive, and aspires to train to qualify as a solicitor. Wroni will take her GDL in Law in 2020 and then go on to become a Trainee within the firm. Wroni provides support to the Property team and Company Commercial team.

Wendy Upson

Wendy Upson

Legal Secretary

Wendy Upson start with the firm in May 1979 and has continued her career with us ever since. Wendy’s focus and attention to detail means that she has gained a wealth of knowledge in each of the areas of law that she has worked. Wendy is most adept at dealing with instructions for the sale and purchase of property, wills, and dealing with probate matters. When she isn’t updating clients or assisting with fee earner’s work, Wendy enjoys gardening, socialising and going to West End Musicals.

Imogen Simmonds

Imogen Simmonds

Receptionist & Paralegal

Imogen works part time within the Private Office Group as Administrative Assistant and Legal Secretary. Imogen is currently studying for her Qualifying Law Degree at Kingston University. She is a keen member of the Kingston Law Students Mooting Society, and she has recently been selected to represent Kingston University at the European Centre for Space Law’s 'Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court (Advocacy) Competition'.

Alex Catt

Head of Social Media

Alex Catt works with the Private Office Group as Head of Social Media, bringing with him a creative background. After completing his BA (Hons) Photography at the University of Brighton, Alex has worked in various freelance roles, photographing for clients like The Telegraph Magazine and working on digital marketing campaigns for the National Coastal Tourism Academy and England’s Coast.

Read our specialist legal advice articles

“I have no hesitation at all in recommending Phil and his team at Private Office Legal Services | Solicitors”

I first met Phil Simmonds about 6 years ago when I was introduced to him by a very good friend. Since then Phil has provided me with very sound, and very timely advice. Recently I found myself having to re-do my Lasting Powers of Attorney, as sadly the two friends I had nominated as my attorneys both fell ill and were unable to continue.

Naturally I approached Phil and his team at Private Office legal Services | Solicitors. Once again, everything was handled extremely efficiently, and I was delighted with the service received.

I have no hesitation at all in recommending Phil and his team at Private Office Legal Services | Solicitors, - so a huge thank you to all of them.

With my very best wishes,

Valerie Singleton OBE

TV Presenter and Broadcaster

Private Office Legal

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