I began my legal career as a secretary and worked for a very inspiring partner who encouraged me to qualify as a solicitor as a mature student. I qualified at 40.
I think all solicitors will agree that we continue to learn as our careers progress. I enjoy studying and have taken every opportunity open to me. I like being a member of the Law Society Private Client Section, which holds excellent courses with interesting speakers.
I have acted in a number of elderly abuse cases. The hardest challenge is to support vulnerable, trusting clients through difficult and challenging cases.
I acted for a man who placed great faith in his bank manager. I contacted his bank to assist with his financial affairs, but the bank failed to respond. I was forced to register a complaint and was finally provided with six years of bank statements. Significant sums had been withdrawn which my client denied all knowledge of. The bank manager had ‘tricked’ my client into signing a will and a LPA. Fortunately, the City of London Police were extremely helpful and the bank’s fraud department assisted in a criminal conviction. My client was reimbursed the £380,000 extorted from him and the bank manager incarcerated for five years.
Memorable career highlights include qualifying as a solicitor-advocate and raising a glass (or two) at Daly’s Wine Bar with colleagues following a success at the RCJ.
I was immensely proud to be invited to be a trustee of St Luke’s Hospice. I act for a number of elderly clients, both as attorney and deputy at the Court of Protection. This has given me invaluable experience in understanding the needs of vulnerable patients. As a partner, the skills I have learnt in running the business have been vital to ensuring good governance of our charity. I have also enjoyed advising and giving talks on the need to have a will and supporting the St Luke’s ‘Make a Will’ month.
I would like to see changes in online LPAs. Having moved in 2007 from EPAs to LPAs to provide greater protection for donors, we appear to be making a U-turn on a number of levels, particularly in relation to those who can be a certificate provider and attest to mental capacity.
In the last few weeks I have seen two examples where wills drafted by lay people have caused significant problems. First, in relation to a residuary beneficiary witnessing a will and thus prohibiting him from inheriting. Second, a will drafted without a residuary clause. There are many schemes where solicitors provide a professionally drafted will for free or a small donation to charity.
I have been involved in Will Aid for 11 years and have raised over £73,000. I have enjoyed being invited to speak on its behalf on a number of occasions to highlight the importance of having a will, both on TV and radio. Will Aid is an excellent way to encourage people to have a professionally drafted will and make a donation to charity. It is also an excellent marketing tool as each November I meet new clients who come back to instruct on other matters.