You’re coming up to your 4 year anniversary as Chambers Director at Littleton Chambers. How would you describe your time at the Bar so far?
I can’t believe that time has flown by so quickly. I have absolutely loved being at Littleton. It is as if the role was made for me. After so many years of working as a Solicitor, I was anxious to retain some connection with the law. Pre-Covid, I loved getting out and about and meeting other lawyers to talk about the work we do. I miss that side of my role terribly. I have derived terrific satisfaction from watching Chambers flourish and individual barristers do so well. I love helping them in any way I can and supporting their careers. For the first time in my professional career, I feel appreciated and valued. I have also loved getting to know my fellow colleagues in other sets. The Bar is extremely sociable and collegiate. Being on the LPMA Executive committee has introduced me to some amazing colleagues in other sets and supported me no end in this role.
You were Head of the Abuse Team at Slater and Gordon and were regarded as one of the country's leading experts in civil claims having represented claimants in such high profile cases as Savile, Harris and Clifford. How has this experience shaped you?
I am very proud of my former career and the work that I spearheaded. I believe that this exposed terrible more widescale abuse that had been occurring for decades in many other organisations such as schools, churches etc. However, after several years working on just abuse cases, it was time to move on for my own sanity and wellbeing. It was extremely stressful work and permeated every aspect of my life. I firmly believe that if you don’t care about your work, you aren’t doing a good job. The experience has opened my eyes to the harsh realities of life. I have met people who have suffered the most extraordinary hardships. It really does teach you to value what you have in life.
You have two sons at university, how was lockdown for you and your family?
The Pandemic has been particularly hard on the younger generation. I fear for their futures and job prospects. The first lockdown was fine as it was Summer and it was nice to be together as a family again. The boys stayed remarkably positive and developed their culinary skills. I do worry if we are stuck with these restrictions for a large part of 2021. Student years should be the happiest and most carefree of your life and this is not the student life they should be experiencing.
How has your chambers faired throughout lockdown and what are the changes in working practice (model) that may likely be part of the norm moving forward?
Littleton has adapted remarkably well during the crisis. All staff shifted to home working during the first lockdown and we have operated extremely efficiently. We had never worked like this before and it has demonstrated how traditional roles such as clerking can be approached more flexibly. The conversations that used to take place over the clerking desk now happen remotely via Teams but are just as effective. The team work and group effort has been exceptional. Areas such as fee collection have worked very well from home and I am sure some sort of flexible working will be considered in many areas of Chambers life in the future. I have also been so impressed as to how well members have adapted to conducting remote hearings and the technological aspects of E bundles etc. I love the fact that one of my barristers told me in December that he hadn’t worn anything on his feet other than flip flops since March!
There is concern about forces seemingly seeking to not uphold the rule of law in the UK. Having had significant experience in both the civil and commercial courts, what’s your view on the sanctity of the rule of law?
I will refrain from making any political comments but the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law must remain as sacrosanct in my opinion. I will say no more as otherwise I will get too angry about what has happened in recent years.
What’s the direction of travel for your chambers at the moment?
Littleton goes from strength to strength under the leadership of the brilliant Gavin Mansfield QC. We are a Band 1 set and for our size, we punch well above our weight. In the last year, in spite of all the difficulties faced by the Bar, we have produced 3 new Silks, 1 new High Court Judge, a raft of new entrants in both Directories and we have matched our best ever year for our financial performance. In fact, we have produced 8 new Silks over a total of 3 years which is quite an achievement. What I am most pleased about is the sense of collegiality and optimism that exists in Chambers. In the last year I have witnessed MOC show great compassion, care and pride in one another. I could not be prouder to work there. What is most exciting, is that we have such an array of brilliant Juniors, so that I have every confidence that our success will continue long after I am gone.
When considering a chambers move with my team, I met with all the major players in the industry. Guy and Tony were our clear preferred choice.
They were authentic in their approach, challenged us when they felt it necessary and ultimately delivered a seamless service. Most importantly they showed complete discretion, which was for us the most important criteria.
Their reputation for being leaders in their field is well deserved and I would not hesitate to recommend them to others.