One of Newport’s best-known business faces is now at the helm of the city’s newest law firm.
Zep Bellavia, former managing partner of Newport law firm Harding Evans, is now running his own business. Bellavia & Associates delivers legal and accountancy services.
Based in Langstone, Bellavia & Associates provides specialist litigation services with a primary focus on the specific needs and objectives of each client.
Mr Bellavia has lived and worked in Newport since 1990.
“Newport is close to my heart and it’s where I will continue practising law,” he says.
“Newport has been my home for almost 30 years. I’ve raised my family here and many of my friends, colleagues and clients are in the area.”
Now one of South Wales’ best-known lawyers, it was a different career that first brought Mr Bellavia to the Newport.
“I gave up the law for three years and ran a manufacturing business with my father, focussing on novelty clocks. We employed around 10 people, supplied the retail and wholesale trade and even had our products on the shelves in Harrods,” he explains.
“After my father’s death in 1992 I decided to go back to the law because I realised I was a lawyer at heart. I had 12 interviews in a matter of weeks that led to 10 job offers and decided to join Harding Evans ahead of some much bigger firms because the company ticked all the boxes for me.”
Mr Bellavia joined Harding Evans in 1992 and became Managing Partner in 1998, a position he held until he decided to step down earlier this year to set up his own firm.
“There is a lot of excitement but also a bit of trepidation in stepping away from the large law firm I helped to build,” he says.
“I have a strong client base already. Many clients have moved with me to Bellavia & Associates because they have relied on me for decades.
“I love helping people and businesses. I like getting results and sticking it to the system!
“Lawyers can sometimes operate as something of a closed shop, but I’ve never seen myself as part of the old boys’ network. For me, it has always been about my clients and how I can help them.”
Launched on November 1, Bellavia & Associates operates an Alternative Business Structure (ABS), offering comprehensive law and accountancy services. The latter is provided by qualified accountant Caroline Walker, Mr Bellavia’s partner, who brings her own client portfolio to the business.
The ‘Associates’ part of the new company is very important, as Mr Bellavia explains.
“For many years I have specialised in litigation, particularly the most complex matters. I am still personally handling my clients’ legal portfolios, but I also work with a range of associates to provide a full suite of legal services.
“Sometimes that means bringing in experts to work on a case-specific basis. But also, for instance, I handle disputes over estates and wills, but will-writing and estate tax planning is delivered by a specialist associate I’ve known for many years.”
Away from the office, Mr Bellavia is dad to two sons aged 10 and 19. He is a champion of the local business community, sitting on the Board of the Newport Now Business Improvement District.
A keen football fan, he owns a vintage motor home that his family still use on trips to music festivals and Welsh beaches.