Partner, Anthony Gold, London
I went to art school, but could not earn my living doing that. I was interested in what made people tick so trained as a psychiatric nurse. I qualified, but the money and conditions weren’t good so I found myself working for a clinical negligence lawyer as a secretary. The work was fascinating and I thought to train to become a lawyer.
I discovered I could become a solicitor by training as a legal executive at night school and then taking crossover exams. I passed the first year and was given a case load of small-value personal injury and clinical negligence claims and left to it. I gained a massive amount of experience running around the High Court. After a few years I found myself handling bigger and more complex claims cases and studying half the night too. In 1996 I was given partnership the day I was admitted.
Last year I was particularly proud to have helped win a large and unusual settlement in the high-profile case of Barbara Oliva.
Over the years there have been substantial changes not always for the best. Major ‘downs’ were the abolition of legal aid for personal injury work, and more recently the Jackson reforms, following which access to justice seems to depend in part on the monetary value of your claim or the depth of your purse.
My clients have had significant trauma. Many are emotionally unwell and sometimes extraordinarily difficult. My nursing background has been helpful in coping with this.
Taking the stress out of the job is important, and music has been a big part of how I do this. In 1984 I joined the London Symphony Chorus. I nearly did not start training as a lawyer because it meant giving up the choir. But I worked out a compromise and sang as an extra voice, when asked, until qualified. In 2007 I suffered a left vocal chord palsy that left me whispering for three months. My voice came back but it was no longer good enough to sing.
I bought a piano and took up playing where I left off when I was 15.
In 2003 I ran the London Marathon for charity and have taken various groups of trainees to Newcastle to run the Great North Run. My firm has been generous in sponsoring these excursions and earlier this year suggested we put on a concert to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association, during which I would play a Schubert piano duet with my teacher Linda Nottingham. We have professional singers performing too so it’s not all about me, but playing the piano in public will be a huge personal challenge.
- Music At Kings Place Hosted By Anthony Gold For The Spinal Injuries Association will take place at 7.30pm on 2 April at Kings Place, King’s Cross. Donations welcome at justgiving.com/JennyKennedySIA