Owner, Emplaw Online
My father was a lawyer and my mother was a magistrate who also worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau. So I realised early on that knowing the law was a useful thing. I was in training from age 11 when I used to take notes for my father on the way to school.
It was during my time as a trainee solicitor and assistant solicitor at City firm Ince & Co that I really acquired the skills to build a career as a successful solicitor. The senior partners encouraged us to find solutions to problems ourselves first, before asking for help.
The self-reliance and resilience I learnt during my early years was invaluable when I moved to the BBC to set up a contracts unit for BBC drama and in my later roles as legal adviser to HR and BBC head of employment policy and freelance legal affairs.
Working at the BBC taught me to carefully consider the business consequences of my advice, not only because you are immediately accountable to a creative and articulate client base but also because the BBC is constantly under external scrutiny from the public and the media. Since leaving the BBC and working for a more diverse client base, I have found such forethought a useful skill in adding value for clients.
One of the biggest challenges facing in-house lawyers is to stay on top all the changes in employment law and find reliable, easy-to-find information for specific enquiries, including links to cases and government guidance. You simply can’t know it all.
Offering a solution to this problem is one of the reasons I decided to buy Emplaw Online – an online research site aiming to provide authoritative, independent information to lawyers, advisers, HR professionals and anyone keen to stay on top of employment law.
The legal profession has gained from becoming demystified since I qualified, which can only be a good thing. I feel strongly that, as employment law affects the everyday life of millions of employers and employees, it should be accessible and understandable. Having access to good advice and information when it comes to employment law means there is less likelihood of dispute.
Fewer disputes make sense as the evidence is clear that improved employer-employee relationships improve output and play a part in aiding business and the economy. Having access to the right information is vital. The transparency also means lawyers are more accountable to their clients and the client is empowered in the process, which can only be a good thing.
On the negative side, the proliferation of emails can be a real danger because the expectation of a speedy reply can encourage less considered responses which then leads to longer exchanges and swallows time. Email is itself a fabulous tool but I, for one, need to learn to manage it.
My least favourite part of the law is that relating to TUPE because, despite being improved by amendments last year, trying to square the circle between legislative compliance and the complexities of commercial reality is often very difficult.