Article published in The Lawyer (online) on 4 February 2013.
Name: Joanna Pratt
Title: Equity Partner – Head of Family Department
Firm: Thomson Snell & Passmore
Lives: Tunbridge Wells
Education: 1987-90: LLB, University of Exeter
1990-91: Law Society Finals, College of Law, Guildford
Work history: 1991-93: Articled Clerk, Menneers (now Menneer Shuttleworth)
1993-98: Solicitor, Menneers
1998-2005: Equity Partner, Menneers
2005-2007: Associate, Thomson Snell & Passmore
2007-2008: Senior Associate, Thomson Snell & Passmore
2008-2010: Salaried Partner, Thomson Snell & Passmore
2010 to date: Equity Partner, Thomson Snell & Passmore
What was your first ever job?
Check out assistant in supermarket during college holidays.
What was your worst experience as a trainee?
Late one evening I attended at the home of our of criminal clients with my principal in order to take a statement for his forthcoming Crown Court trial. We sat in his front room taking the statement, surrounded by his rotweillers. They were barely house-trained. I decided very early in my training that I did not want to do criminal work.
Where is the best place to go if you want to find out what's really going on in the office?
Speak to any of the secretaries in my department.
What time do you usually leave the office?
Currently I leave by 6 pm, in order to collect my five month old son from nursery.
What do you do at weekends?
Since my son’s arrival, weekends are largely taken up with him, as well as seeing friends and family.
What's your favourite restaurant?
Thackerays, Tunbridge Wells
If you weren't a lawyer what would you have been?
I was always going to be a solicitor. But the amazing scent of all the various flowers in florists always makes me yearn to be a florist for at least half-an-hour.
What is your favourite film?
What was the first record you ever bought?
An ABBA album – I don’t remember which one now!
Who’s your hero and why?
Aung San Suu Kyi. She is the ultimate example of what one can achieve in a peaceful and graceful way.
What's the best thing about your job?
The clients. I have had some amazing clients over the years. When clients first seek advice with regard to their family problems, they are often at the lowest point in their lives, but during the legal process one sees them begin to be able to move forward with their lives.
What's the toughest thing about your job?
At the moment the toughest thing is getting used to the fact that I cannot stay in the office beyond about 6 pm; although it does focus one’s mind on working efficiently, and delegating more. And there is always the weekend…..
What's your biggest work career mistake and what did you learn from it?
It has taken me many years to learn to delegate properly, but I am fortunate to have an amazing team of lawyers and secretaries to whom I can delegate.
What car do you drive?
What book are you currently reading?
The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato.
What's your favourite children's book?
Watership Down by Richard Adams.
What’s the most exciting deal/case you have worked on and why?
All cases in Family Law are interesting, and no two cases are ever the same.
If you were stranded on a desert island what two luxury items would you take?
A limitless supply of both Earl Grey tea (with milk) and Champagne.
What is the worst partner conference location you’ve attended and why?
None stands out as being particularly bad.
What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
I have never had to work all through the night – although there have been many occasions when I have started very early or finished very late.
If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
My husband has commented that the character of Miranda in Sex and the City reminds him of me – so I would have to choose Cynthia Nixon.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
My mum. She and I were once stuck in a lift together, and she became extremely upset and distressed – not something I would want to repeat.
Tell us two truths and one lie about yourself.
I speak passable Mandarin; I did not talk until I was three years old; I love watching cookery programs on the television.