Tell us a bit about you
I spent most of my childhood living on the Sussex coast, going on to study law at Exeter University. I undertook what was then called The Law Society Finals at the College of Law at Guildford before starting my two year period of training to qualify as a solicitor, then known as articles, at a small high street firm on the Sussex coast. I have been living in Tunbridge Wells for the past 12 years, and am married with an eight year old son.
Why did you choose law?
I decided at the age of 10 that I wanted to be a solicitor – although I am not convinced that I knew what a solicitor did at that time! As a child, during the school holidays, I used to make my younger brother watch a television programme which was on every lunchtime, called ‘Crown Court’. They were half hour programs with a fictional crown court trial each day. That may have been the beginning of my interest in law. Once I understood what being a solicitor actually involved, I was attracted by the idea of being able to make a difference to people’s lives. Until you actually start working, it is impossible to really appreciate what different jobs involve, and I know that I am incredibly fortunate that I have always loved my work. The best part of my work is the people – the clients, who are often going through one of the hardest periods of their lives, and my amazing colleagues.
What attracted you to Thomson Snell & Passmore?
I joined Thomson Snell & Passmore 15 years ago. Ever since I had started out on my legal career, Thomson Snell & Passmore was the stand out, prestige South East law firm. I specialise in family law, and took over as senior partner in June 2020. The firm is celebrating its 450th anniversary this year – we are the oldest recorded law firm in the world, being recognised in the Guinness Book of Records. This year in particular, both with our anniversary and the effects of the pandemic, we are very focussed on adapting and changing to meet the needs of our clients, the community and our staff, and ensuring that the firm continues to thrive, grow and be successful in the future, and remain a preeminent regional law firm.
How has lockdown been?
We have taken a phased approach to returning to our offices in Tunbridge Wells and Thames Gateway and many of our staff are continuing to work from home, in line with Government advice. We have a well-established and secure home working programme, which has allowed us to continue to deliver a high level of client service during lockdown. We’re committed to finding ways to ‘bounce back better’ as a firm, and to help our clients and local communities do the same. Although the pandemic presents many challenges, it has also given us all opportunities to learn – from implementing new technology to introducing more efficient working practices – and we’re determined to use these new learnings to help our clients navigate this new post-lockdown landscape.
What makes a good boss?
Leading by example is one of the most important attributes. You also need to be a good listener, be decisive when necessary, and recognise that as the boss you do not have a monopoly on having the right answer.
Any career advice?
The legal profession has changed hugely since I started out in my legal career in the early 1990s. Technology is becoming increasingly important, but ultimately it remains a profession where personal relationships, and client service, are of fundamental importance. Whatever area of law you specialise in, you need excellent people skills.
Your work/life balance?
I do maintain a good work/life balance, and since having my son, I always try to make sure that my weekends are as work free as possible. And I ensure that I can always be there for the big school events. As a firm, we have a very strong ethos that we should all maintain as good a work/life balance as possible. Working almost exclusively from home since lockdown began has reinforced this even more.
What was breakfast today?
Nothing! I have not eaten breakfast on a regular basis for decades – I know what nutritionists would say…
This interview first appeared in Kent Life Magazine