Employment partner, London
I was attracted to a career in law due to my love of the social sciences (coupled with a keen interest in legal shows at the time). Law was one of the few career options I felt would satisfy my need to continually learn new concepts while also helping people. I am glad that this has proved to be the case.
I qualified at City firm Fox Williams and stayed for 18 months before joining top-100 firm Russell-Cooke. I was at Russell-Cooke for more than eights years before becoming a partner at a boutique City firm in Chancery Lane. I am now an employment partner at multidisciplinary practice Spencer West.
Before starting law school, I was keen to become an entertainment lawyer. However, once I began studying the employment law elective on the LPC, it became clear that I had found my practice area. I was immediately taken by the practical application of the subject, the ever-changing rules and how interesting the cases were.
Whether acting for the individual or the employer, employment law is very emotive. My role is often to be the voice of reason, particularly when emotions are running high. A thick skin is needed as well as high emotional intelligence, to be able to focus on what the client wants and to be able to help them focus on that. For instance, I once acted in a case where two brothers were suing each other – you can imagine how this was fraught with difficulties.
I have noticed a spike in sexual harassment complaints as a result of #MeToo. I suspect that the awareness surrounding the movement has made both employers and employees alive to the issue. More employers are now ensuring that they have anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies in place. I have found employers are more keenly aware of their responsibility to deal with such complaints in a serious and timely manner.
I have noticed a spike in sexual harassment complaints as a result of #MeToo… both employers and employees are alive to the issue
As the country began to grapple with Covid-19, I received enquiries from employers on making redundancies, as well as considering alternatives such as lay-offs and short-time working. Once the government announced its Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) the queries all centred around this. Given that the government has been updating its guidance frequently, it has been difficult to advise clients who need to make decisions swiftly because of the lockdown’s financial implications. Over the last few weeks queries have begun returning to the more usual employee-relations matters.
Unfortunately, once the CJRS comes to an end and life begins to return to normal, we will most likely have a recession. Consequently, I suspect that there will be an increased number of enquiries on workplace restructures – for example advising on redundancy procedures and settlement agreements. Additionally, it is likely that there will be more enquiries about managing sickness absences and discrimination claims, due to the psychological and physiological impact of Covid-19. On a more positive note, I hope that attitudes towards remote working will have changed for the better, and therefore employers will be looking to implement and/or amend their homeworking policies accordingly.
While I enjoy the fact that I advise on both contentious and non-contentious matters, I am a litigator at heart. Therefore, when I consider some of the most memorable highlights of my career they all involve tribunal cases. You work so closely with the client and barrister during the litigation that you can form very close relationships.
There was one particularly difficult case that I acted on while I was quite junior. I was the claimant’s third or fourth legal representative and the tribunal bundle was around 20 A4 lever arch files by the time I became involved in the case. The respondent’s solicitors were a large City firm, whereas I was primarily working on the case with just the assistance of a trainee. I worked many a late night and produced a 60-page witness statement in just a week. I grew a lot from that experience and formed a close working relationship with the barrister (now a QC) that I instructed, which has endured to this day.
I find it rewarding to help a client to achieve their desired outcome. Seeing the joy on the face of a previously despondent client when their problem is resolved is truly satisfying.