CEO, gunnercooke, Manchester
Failing medicine pushed me towards a legal career. I have always loved solving problems and so law seemed like a natural fit for me.
Before joining gunnercooke, my legal training involved nothing specific on business development or marketing, and did not make clear how important those skills are to your career. Law firms should place more emphasis on soft-skills training – as much as they do on the technical side. Modern law is business-focused but, more often than not, lawyers are not taught how to develop their practice and advise with a commercial understanding.
When I joined gunnercooke, it was a start-up law firm trying to completely disrupt the market. It was quite daunting and everyone said that we were crazy. My first year with the firm was the most challenging of my career – but it was also the most rewarding. Having to prove that we could operate in a totally new model – and that clients would follow us – was so exciting.
Moving into the role of CEO presents its own set of challenges, such as inspiring our staff and implementing the strategy. This is a very different law firm, and I am responsible for ensuring that we continue our mission to improve, evolve and add value to the way legal services are delivered, both for clients and lawyers.
I have been lucky to experience a varied legal career and I definitely think that spending time both in private practice and in-house stands you in good stead for being a well-rounded adviser. Experience in both sectors helped me to adapt to a more commercial way of operating at gunnercooke.
The time I spent in-house at Enterprise plc (now Amey) gave me a deeper understanding of the way that businesses and budgets operate. You gain first-hand experience of reporting to a board of directors who want to see legal services save money and provide value to their business.
I was very proud to be the first partner recruit to gunnercooke, and even more so to be appointed as CEO in September. To have been involved from the start in growing the firm and now to take a much more direct role in delivering the strategy is a huge high for me.
Winning Young Lawyer of the Year (North-West Insider) at the age of 26 was a very proud moment early on in my career, and that really gave me confidence to develop my practice further.
At the start of my career, it was much harder for a female to rise to a senior role in law firm management. Today that is not the case.
Firms are also awakening to the fact that the world has changed, and so there are huge efforts being made to adapt pricing models and modes of working to suit clients’ needs.
For a working mother like myself, it has been very difficult to juggle career progression with family life. New styles of working, creating environments where you can ‘have it all’, will have a great impact on the way the profession develops.