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, which offers legal and accountancy services.

The new business is based in Langstone.

Mr Bellavia, who has lived and worked in Newport since 1990, said: “Newport is close to my heart and it’s where I will continue practising law. The city 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.”

Mr Bellavia came to Newport to help his father run a novelty clock manufacturing business.

He said: "We employed around 10 people, supplied the retail and wholesale trade and even had our products on the shelves in Harrods.

"After my father’s death in 1992 I decided to go back to the law because I realised I was a lawyer at heart."

After 12 interviews in a matter of weeks which led to 10 job offers he joined Harding Evans in 1992. Six years later he became managing partner.

He held that position until he decided to step down earlier this year to set up his own firm.

Mr Bellavia said: “There is a lot of excitement but also a bit of trepidation in stepping away from the large law firm I helped to build.

“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.”

Bellavia & Associates, which started operating earlier this month, is run using the Alternative Business Structure. The accountancy side of the business is being provided by qualified accountant Caroline Walker, Mr Bellavia’s partner.

Mr Bellavia said: “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 sits on the board of the Newport Now Business Improvement District. He is a keen football fan and owns a vintage motor home which his family use on trips to music festivals and Welsh beaches.