What made you choose law?
Studying law wasn’t an option at my school and I didn’t know any lawyers growing up, but I’ve always enjoyed learning new things and it sounded like an interesting and varied course to study at university.
I took a year out after studying in Sheffield and worked at a law firm in York. I also had an incredible three months in Ghana doing family law legal aid work with a charity (FIDA Ghana), an experience which renewed my interest in family law. Back in the UK, I studied for my LPC alongside working at the same firm, undertook a training contract in London, and later decided to move to the North West.
When asking around about potential family law jobs someone suggested Nigel Shepherd and his team who at that time were still at Addleshaw Goddard. Long story short, I happened to enquire just when the team was about to merge with Mills & Reeve, so I ended up as one of the first seven people in the Mills & Reeve Manchester office.
In the early days, we were such a small team that everyone pitched in as facilities, fire wardens, first aiders and everything in between. I’ve been with the firm ever since, becoming a collaborative lawyer in 2011 and a mediator in 2016.
What made you choose family law?
Family law is all about relationships and has a reputation as a fairly ‘touchy feely’ area of law, however, it is so much more than this. At Mills & Reeve we work on cases that involve substantial business assets, employment issues, bankruptcy, tax and more. I’ve had the opportunity to work with teams and sectors across the firm, and gain knowledge and experience in many areas of law.
Do you have any advice for people looking to join Mills & Reeve, or enter law more generally?
Jump in two footed and get involved in as many initiatives as possible. At Mills & Reeve we have various charity challenges, social committees and other groups that enable you to meet people you wouldn’t usually work with.
For law more generally, think very hard and choose an area of law that plays to your interests and strengths. They are all incredibly different and suit different personalities – choose something you can be passionate about!
What made you start trying to work flexibly?
My wife also works at Mills & Reeve, and when discussing returning to work after the birth of our first child we wanted something that supported both of our careers, alongside family life. We decided it would be easier for both of us to work four days a week, rather than one full time, and one three days, so this is what we proposed. My team have been nothing but supportive of this, and it never even crossed my mind that this might be seen as a ‘negative’ – It certainly wasn’t seen that way!
I have been able to adapt my flexible working over the years, so now work every day, but with two afternoons off a week. As well as being able to work from home, this allows more continuity in work, alongside being available to do the school run, and having some time to myself.
The number of senior people who have commented that I could probably teach them a thing or two about balancing work and home life really demonstrates that flexible working is here to stay!
You mention getting involved in initiatives outside your day-to-day work. Are there any more you’d like to mention?
I am a paternity mentor for the Manchester office. This involves talking to dads about opportunities to work flexibly. It is the norm for mothers to work part time, but still somewhat unusual for men, and I enjoy doing my bit to break the stigma. It’s not always about dropping hours but can be about flexing around school pick-ups and being closer to home for your children.
My team has been very supportive of taking up roles outside of the firm. I have been involved in Resolution, alongside several of my team, and until recently was chair of governors at my daughters’ primary school. My team encourages getting involved with such commitments and sees them as an important part of career progression and establishing yourself as a leader in the community.