• Two colleagues smiling in a meeting

Stories from our business services staff

Sophie King

Sophie KingSophie is an HR advisor in in our Birmingham Human Resources team.

I joined Clarke Willmott in August 2019 as a HR & payroll coordinator. Prior to working in HR, I was training to be an accountant at a FTSE 100 company. Whilst it was certainly a fast-paced role, and one that I enjoyed, I wanted to work in a more people-orientated role where I could really make my mark. I had worked in a law firm upon graduating as an administration assistant so was already accustomed to working in a professional services environment. The role at Clarke Willmott combined the level of professionalism I was looking for along with the opportunity to enter the HR sector at a coordinator level.
As my aim was to work in a HR generalist role, I joined our HR Advisory team in November 2021 as HR advisor for our Private Client division. I thoroughly enjoy the varied nature of my role – no two days are the same! I work closely with the partners on a daily basis to help them deliver and implement their strategic people aims.

The sudden change in career from Finance to HR was certainly a scary time for me, but I can hand on heart say that joining Clarke Willmott was the best decision I could have made for my long-term career.

How do you work with other teams at Clarke Willmott?

As a HR Advisor in Private Client, I have regular contact with the teams within the division: Private Capital, Clinical Negligence & Personal Injury, Family, and Private Property & Agriculture. I have a varied role and am available to discuss general HR queries, wellbeing, learning & development, performance management and recruitment – to name a few! In the wider firm, I work closely with several of the support teams to enable me to deliver my tasks and people objectives.

What is your experience of hybrid working /flexible working at Clarke Willmott?

As a people-orientated person, I initially struggled acclimatising to working at home, however I slowly realised the benefits of hybrid working and the flexibility it brings to my working week. I feel extremely lucky that Clarke Willmott has fully embraced hybrid working, where there are no set number of days you are required to be in the office per week. My manager lets me decide how many days I want to work at home, with the option to visit the firm’s other locations to maintain face-to-face contact across my client group.

Tell us about your experience of learning and career development at Clarke Willmott

Beginning a career in HR, I was aware that I would need to complete the Chartered Institute in Personnel and Development’s Intermediate Certificate, which the firm very kindly sponsored. In May 2021, after nearly two years of working at Clarke Willmott, I completed the course with a high pass rate.
Studying alongside working full time was only possible because I was able to work flexibly, attending college during working hours and making up time by starting work earlier or finishing a little later on other days. This allowed me to maintain a healthy work-life balance, which was really important to me. I am very thankful to Clarke Willmott for supporting me and for funding the course, both of which have meant I can progress my career in HR.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

Clarke Willmott has the feel of a family-run firm whilst operating at a national level. The culture is second to none, made up of people who really care about the firm, their colleagues, and their careers.

Sally Jones

Sally Jones - Facilities Services Manager - Clarke Willmott SouthamptonSally is a facilities services manager in our Southampton Facilities Management team.

I joined Clarke Willmott as the facilities services manager for our Southampton office in January 2017 after a career spanning 15 years travelling the world as a professional dancer and a further 10 managing the operations and logistics for a large UK cruise line’s entertainment department. No two days are alike working in Facilities Services, I am very proud to manage a team who care about supporting the fee earners and who make every effort to deliver their work to a high standard. We open and distribute around 11,000 pieces of post and send out a further 7,000 annually, as well as producing approximately 10,000 reprographic jobs and answering around 23,000 telephone calls each year. Keeping the office, staff and client areas safe, clean and well maintained is also a key aspect of my role and I enjoyed playing my part in a major office refurbishment project a couple of years ago that has resulted in a bright modern working environment for us and our visitors to enjoy.

An eye for detail and a background in hospitality, events, and customer service was therefore a great foundation for managing the many aspects of office and facilities management in a busy law office where the phrase “The show must go on” is just as relevant in my current role managing Facilities as it was when I worked in entertainment.

What do you enjoy most about working at Clarke Willmott?

The simple answer is the people. I enjoy working with professionals that I can learn from and in return I feel respected and valued for what I bring to the firm.

How do you work with other teams at Clarke Willmott?

My team support many other departments within the firm with post and reprographic job requests as well as booking meeting rooms and arranging hospitality for our internal and external clients. We work with IT and HR to support the needs of new joiners to the firm, Finance in managing the office expenditure and Business Development & Marketing to assist them with events. We play a key role in ensuring the ongoing compliance with our many accreditations and liaise with the Information Security & Data Protection and Risk & Compliance teams to help to meet the firm’s obligations in these areas with internal audits and reports. The pandemic has caused an increase in the use of video conferencing for training and meetings and as a result, has increased my contact with colleagues in other offices. This has had a positive effect on building strong working relationships across the teams.

Tell us about your experience of wellbeing at Clarke Willmott

I have been impressed with how seriously Clarke Willmott takes the issues surrounding all aspects of health and wellbeing. I am one of a team of trained mental health first aiders with at least one of us based in every office across the firm. Being able to offer support, reassurance, and information as a first point of contact for anyone experiencing emotional distress or a mental health related issue is one of the most rewarding aspects of my role.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

A great work culture, managing a fantastic team and being trusted to deliver a job that adds real value to the firm.

Kat Quinton

Kat Quinton photo, Partner Business Recovery UnitKat is the head of information security & data protection in our Taunton Risk Management & Compliance team.

I joined Clarke Willmott as a paralegal in our then Lender Services Unit in 1997. I had originally applied to be a costs clerk, but on interview it was suggested I would be more suited to a paralegal role as I had an A-level in law. My intention was to accept purely as temporary role whilst I decided what I wanted to do as a career.

About nine months after starting at Clarke Willmott, I was seconded to the Debt Recovery team. I quickly found a love for legal case management process design that enabled such work to be undertaken in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

As the team grew, we took on more nationwide debt recovery contracts becoming one of the most successful debt teams in the UK. I studied to become a legal executive and ultimately followed the route of associate, senior associate and became a partner in 2015. During my career in debt, I took on contract management of a major government and insurance contract and was also proud to represent the Civil Court Users Association in roles as Vice Chair of the South West Region and then National Secretary between 2015 and 2017.

My expertise in the debt team developed beyond process design into statistical analysis and compliance generally both in terms of adherence to contract SLAs and regulation. I had a particular interest in information security governance and data protection and was a member of the firm’s Information Security Management Forum. This interest grew and in 2020, I became Clarke Willmott’s Head of Information Security & Data Protection.

How has Clarke Willmott supported your career development?

I have had nothing but positive support for my development at Clarke Willmott. My manager in the Debt Recovery team was one of the first legal executives to become a partner in the country and I was proud to follow in her footsteps. Likewise, in my transition into my new role in 2020, Clarke Willmott has supported me in widening my qualification skillset.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when moving from being a partner in debt recovery to becoming Head of Information Security & Data Protection?

Definitely learning how other teams work! I had spent 23 years in the world of litigation and it was important for me to understand the challenges faced by our other teams, such as those dealing with private clients.

What is your experience of working flexibly at Clarke Willmott?

As a parent, including of a child with a long term illness, I have felt nothing but supported. I work part time and being able to raise a family whilst developing a career (and balancing my other keen life interests) is testament not just to my own determination, but also the trust Clarke Willmott puts in its staff.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

Flexibility has been key for me and combined with fantastic people is an absolutely winning combination.

John Reynolds

John ReynoldsJohn is a senior information services officer in our Bristol Knowledge Services team.

I have worked in legal information for over thirty years and making the move to Clarke Willmott in 2011 was a great decision. The time has gone by very quickly and my role as an information officer has evolved steadily. Since I joined, my team has introduced many new services, new resources and provides an increasing range of expertise in research to the firm, adapting to new developments and strategies, such as agile working. The traditional law library is now not one place, but many.

Describe your typical work day at Clarke Willmott

My day starts with scanning news feeds and alerts for items of interest to the firm, searching for legal developments that affect the business. Our team looks out for material for all practice areas and circulates updates regularly. Once done, I get on with any research enquiries that we have been sent – legal or business – and which take priority over our other work. Then I have my own specialist updates to attend to, the day’s news and legal developments to monitor, all fitted around any other research or administrative tasks.

What do you enjoy most about working at Clarke Willmott?

I enjoy the variety of work that my role offers. The firm is well-managed, communicates well to its staff and there is a camaraderie throughout the firm. I enjoy working with my colleagues and get job satisfaction in providing a tip top service to the firm.

What’s the culture like at Clarke Willmott?

It’s friendly. There are regular events – ‘The First Friday of Fun’ – organised by the social committee on the first Friday of each month. The offices are open plan, encouraging communication and cross-team collaboration. The firm has sports teams (e.g. netball, football, cricket), charity events and encourages participation and involvement.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

It’s the people. I have a job that I really enjoy that is varied and often challenging, but it comes down to who I work with. The team I work in is very professional and we are situated in the heart of the fee-earning teams. The colleagues we help are appreciative and supportive of the service we provide.

Tracy Thompson

Tracy Thompson - Compliance Manager - Risk and Compliance - Clarke Willmott BristolTracy is a compliance manager is our Bristol Risk and Compliance team.

I joined CW in December 2014 having previously worked as an auditor for various local government authorities and awarding bodies. I began my career here as an internal auditor in a small Risk team. As the team expanded so did my role and I was promoted to the role of compliance manager, with additional line management responsibilities.

Describe your typical work day at Clarke Willmott

A working day within the Risk and Compliance team is never the same from one day to the next due to the nature of our work. As a general overview, I am responsible for the firm’s audit plan and schedule. For large periods of a month, the Compliance team will be conducting audits in accordance with that plan. In addition, I could be carrying out ad-hoc audits across the firm or supporting the wider Risk team with its tasks and obligations.

I am also responsible for the firm’s Lexcel accreditation. For a concentrated period of the year my team will be collating evidence for external assessment, as well as supporting the staff selected for interview. We are also available to answer queries from the fee earning teams to ensure that they are meeting their Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) Code of Conduct obligations.

Tell us about your experience of wellbeing at Clarke Willmott

CW has always been supportive of its staff, but during the pandemic it went above and beyond to ensure we felt valued during a difficult time. Regular updates were provided from our chief executive to all staff so that we all knew the latest updates and developments within the firm. On a team and 1:1 level, we had regular meetings and were able to share our feelings and concerns.

We received physical gifts from the firm during the pandemic to thank us for our continued work, and these gifts made me really feel valued at a time when that additional contact was really appreciated.

What is your experience of working flexibly at Clarke Willmott?

As a result of the pandemic I now perform my role from home, attending the office only for team meetings or to conduct face-to-face project meetings. The brilliant communication offerings at CW have ensured that we have been able to continue working as normal during the pandemic and beyond. All team supervision responsibilities are carried out via video conferencing, although I have also met with my immediate team for lunch meetings due to our close proximity.

The flexible working at CW also means that I am no longer required to work in the office and am therefore able to start work once I have dropped my children at nursery/breakfast club. I can then work through until school pick up time before working for a further hour before nursery pick up. This flexibility has been invaluable to both myself and my family to ensure consistency for us all.

What keeps you at Clarke Willmott?

The culture of CW has always been one where staff feel valued and supported. I have certainly felt that during my time here and the opportunities available to advance careers is brilliant, both in fee earning teams and within the support functions. I work within a very supportive team where we have become friends, as well as colleagues, and I think that is something that we’re very lucky to have.

Maintaining a healthy work/life balance is also a big factor. Being able to drop off and collect my children is vital for me, and something that CW acknowledges and supports with its additional resources and networks for working parents.