Corporate solicitor, SA Law, St Albans
My mother was a legal secretary for a large law firm in Manchester and so I spent many an hour after school waiting (not always patiently) for her to finish. I loved the buzz of the office and I think that resonated with me from a young age.
I was lucky to train at a firm where I found the partners inspiring. They worked hard and played hard, and taught me to be a good listener and to check and double-check the detail. I was pushed along the way and given responsibility and access to clients, which helped my confidence grow and provided a solid grounding.
The financial crash of 2008 was a difficult time. I was just about to qualify into corporate and deals were thin on the ground. I learned to be resilient and to support the team and the firm as it navigated an unpredictable environment. Aside from that, as a corporate lawyer the work is transactional and some clients are not always prepared for the all-consuming nature of the process. I have learned to stay calm and focused on the outcome, to deliver results by steering clients through the deal.
Outside my day job, I am a board director and company secretary for the Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce. I use my knowledge of company law, but it also helps that I understand the demands of a business in a wider commercial sense.
I have had many memorable moments, but a few years ago I acted for a longstanding client on the sale of her business. She built a multi-million-pound business from scratch as a single parent after being made redundant. I had been her lawyer for a few years and so had followed the progress of the firm – and her story remains an inspiration. Completion of that deal was very emotional for her and, I must admit, for me too.
The hardest type of client is one who does not follow your advice and ploughs ahead regardless. This leaves you picking up the pieces when you advised the opposite.
My least favourite law is anything that involves tax law – I leave that to the specialists!
One of the most pleasing changes is the stereotype of a typical corporate lawyer. The workplace has evolved over the last 10 years and I look forward to seeing how this will develop further. Technology has also massively changed how a transaction is run. Thankfully, gone are the days of page-turning documents by hand. It will be interesting to see how technological advances continue to have an impact, not just on corporate law but the legal sector as a whole.
Client pressure and technology will continue to shape the legal profession and change the traditional way corporate lawyers deliver a transaction-led process. I hope, and am confident, that the core values of advising clients with good judgement and a creative approach will remain.