Our Team

Our team of lawyers and support staff at Backhouse Solicitors is dedicated to providing a first class service to businesses and individuals in the Chelmsford area and beyond.  We appreciate that the needs of all of our clients are different so we tailor our advice and way of working to your needs.

Minal Backhouse – Director and Head of Employment and Litigation

Minal qualified as a solicitor in 1997.  She has worked in several High Street practices in London and the East of England, initially as a general litigator then specialising in Employment Law. In 2005 Minal started Backhouse Solicitors with the aim of offering her clients the best possible expertise, service and value for money. Minal heads the Legal team within the company and the rapid growth of the business has been helped by many personal recommendations and is testament to Minal’s belief in a culture of client care. Minal is a member of the Society of Mediators where she uses her wealth of experience to resolve disputes.

Liz Searl – Director and Head of Residential Property

Liz qualified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in 1996 and joined Backhouse in August 2017 as Head of Residential Property.  Prior to that time Liz spent most of her career at Foskett Marr Gadsby & Head in Epping, and more recently has worked in the Chelmsford and Colchester areas.

Liz is an expert in all aspects of residential property and is highly regarded in her field.  She has a particular interest in new build property transactions, acting both for Buyers of new build properties and for developers in the sales of new build schemes.  Liz has acted extensively for Buyers of leasehold apartments in London and the South East, and is an expert on the Government “Help to Buy” scheme and similar equity mortgage schemes available to homebuyers.

Liz thrives on achieving tight timescales and says “I take great pride in my work and I offer my clients everything that I can to ensure a smooth transaction.  I have a large number of clients for whom I have acted several times over a number of years and I believe this is a testament to the high level of service I provide to my clients”.

Liz has two teenage sons and outside of work enjoys socialising and gardening.

Ben Backhouse – Chief Financial Officer

Ben qualified as a chartered accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers in 1997.  He then managed teams in credit and market risk reporting for Credit Suisse until 2007 when he left to work full time at Backhouse Solicitors.  Ben heads the Finance, IT and Operations teams of the company, making sure the legal teams have what they need to run efficiently.  Outside of Backhouse Solicitors, Ben is a Trustee of Chelmsford Cultural Development Trust, Chairman of the Mid-Essex Business Group, Vice Chair of Chelmsford Business Breakfast Club and enjoys motorsport and computing when he gets a few minutes of spare time!

Colin Murphy – Director Private Client Department

Colin qualified as a Solicitor in 1996, initially practising in general litigation matters for a High Street firm. Later he specialised in personal injury and worked for insurers and national firms dealing with serious injuries and complex fraud claims.

Colin now deals with all aspects of Private Client matters. This includes drafting wills, lasting powers of attorneys, court of protection applications, obtaining grants of representation and dealing with all areas of administration of estates. In addition, Colin advises on trusts and taxation matters including estate planning.

Having re-trained, Colin is a full member of the Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) and an affiliate member of Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the leading worldwide professional body in will drafting, trusts, estates and related matters. Both the SFE and STEP require an assessment before becoming a member, require ongoing professional development and adherence to a code of conduct.

Colin prides himself on providing a professional service and putting Clients at ease when dealing with what can be stressful events, whether it is the loss of a loved one or considering later life planning for themselves or relatives.

Karen Farrow – Director Family Department

Karen Farrow qualified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in June 2003 and joined Backhouse Solicitors in October 2019 to set up and run the Family Department.

Karen specialises in Family Law, dealing with private children law disputes (live with orders previously known as residence order; spend time with orders previously known as contact order; prohibited steps order and specific issue order) as well as domestic abuse (both applying and defending Non Molestation/Occupation Orders), divorce proceedings and financial resolution of marriages/civil partnerships. Karen carries out the majority of her own advocacy.

Karen has always worked in the Essex area, previously dealing with legal aid.

Karen is a member of the Law Society Family Law Panel and a member of Resolution.

Karen prides herself in being approachable and non judgemental but realistic.

Catie Edwards – Director Residential Property

Catie started out her career in 1997 at Colchester Borough Council as a clerical assistant in the legal department. She then moved into private practice and became a legal secretary in a Conveyancing Team. She worked her way up and became a Conveyancing fee earner in 2003. Catie qualified as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in 2017.

Catie has worked for a wide range of firms from the very small to the very large over the years in Clacton, Colchester, Chelmsford, Leeds and Bradford. She has a strong background in both new build properties and secondhand properties. She is passionate about delivering high quality customer service in a quick timescale.

In her spare time Catie enjoys walking and cycling with her dog, swimming and being creative with her sewing machine!

Liz Lister – Office Manager

Liz has spent her working life within the Legal sector.  Starting out as a Junior Legal Secretary with Kennedys, she rose through the ranks to become a Legal PA at leading firm Ashursts.  As she progressed, Liz developed a passion for Legal IT and worked her way up to IT Helpdesk Manager at Kennedys in their London Office and more recently at Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP.

Liz joined Backhouse Solicitors in 2014 as a Legal Secretary and now leads the Admin Team in her capacity as Office Manager.  Liz is also heavily involved in the development and maintenance of our document management system and assists Ben with all areas of IT Support.

Outside of work, Liz enjoys the great outdoors and in particular sailing on the River Crouch.

Evie Clemance – Corporate and Commercial Property Associate

Evie is originally from Dorset, and was previously based at a firm in the South West after completing her undergraduate degree in 2015, working mainly in Commercial Property and working toward her qualification as a Chartered Legal Executive. Evie made the move East to join Backhouse in August 2017, and is now in the final stage of her qualifications.

Whilst she initially started off working in residential property transactions, Evie has always had a keen interest in the variety and logistical challenges of Corporate Law and Commercial Property transactions. Evie has worked in this area of law for the past 4.5 years, and has dealt with a range of transactions from buying and selling businesses, to negotiating Option agreements, acting on either side of the transaction. Evie likes to problem solve and think outside the box in complex transactions, and prides herself on her commercial approach to all situations.

Outside of work, Evie can often be found sailing on one of the many rivers of the east coast (or in the middle of the North Sea!).