Director, Crossland Employment Solicitors
I wanted to be a doctor but missed out on my A-level grades, so I thought ‘never mind, I will be a lawyer’. With the help of my wonderful headmaster, I squeezed on to a course at the last minute. I had never really considered a career in the law and had always done maths and sciences, which in those days were unheard of for a law degree.
I have never been a natural academic because coming from a science background, it was always instilled into me that experiments and proof were key. Therefore, a long essay on jurisprudence did not really float my boat. However, my saving grace was that after my degree all of my friends went on to what was then called the ‘solicitor’s finals’ (now the LPC). That was a revelation to me and I loved it.
Suddenly, my analytical and scientific mind was running rings around my learned colleagues from Oxford and Cambridge because it involved problem-solving and practical application. I went from being a very average degree student to achieving honours in my solicitor’s finals, which put me in the top 2%.
I am not the sort who will say ‘I wish I could fly an aeroplane’. I will just go out and do it, which I did and obtained my private pilot’s licence. I have also written a children’s book (Giants and Dragons by BJ Cross).
Employment law came into its own with the Employment Rights Act 1996 – and so a love affair with employment law began. But employment law changes daily. I have to race to keep up, and it is my full-time job. It makes my hair stand on end when someone says they ‘dabble’ in employment law.
I spent seven years working in-house in the travel industry. Anyone who thinks working in-house is an easy life should try it. You are on a fast learning curve – working out how a company operates, where the power really lies, learning tact and diplomacy, and how to answer employees who ask you about every area of law when your specialism is very narrow.
I spent two years working outside the law as the commercial director of a plc. This taught me about listed companies, shareholders, the pressures of keeping the stock market happy and customer service. But it was not utilising all my skills and drove me back into the arms of the law within two years.
One of the highlights of my career was being introduced to Sam Neaman at Littleton Chambers – one of the biggest legal brains I know – but with that very rare quality of being brilliant with clients. I remember emailing him to apologise for something being delayed.
We had had a difficult weekend as my father had just been diagnosed with cancer. Despite being busy, he rang me up straight away and shared his own family experiences. We have fought many battles together – from the insurance industry to Formula 1 – and most things in between.
The Shared Parental Leave Regulations 2014 is my least favourite law. They are unnecessarily complicated with a major drafting error in them, the effect of which is that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills online calculator for calculating entitlement to shared parental leave and pay is wrong. I have felt as if I am waging a one-woman battle to have it corrected. I think that is what makes a really good lawyer – be your own person with your own views.