Meet the Partners: Emma Taylor, Family Lawyer

Emma Taylor is a Partner at GoodLaw Solicitors having previously qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive. In this Q&A, Emma sits down with our marketing executive, Dannie Moore, to discuss her start to her law career and how she eventually discovered her passion to become a GoodLaw Partner.

Meet the Partners: Emma Taylor, Family Solicitor

Emma at The Law Society with the Goodlaw team (back, second from the left)

How did you get into law?

When I was growing up, my closest school friend’s dad was a lawyer with his own practice. She and I did our work placement at his firm during High School and that was it, I was sold. I chose Law as an A-Level and also drama, which I loved, but because I thought at that time that I wanted to be a barrister and the performance skills would be useful. 

How did you qualify as a lawyer? What route did you take? 

After doing A Level Law, I received an offer to attend the University of Kent in Canterbury and I elected to study straight law for 3 years. After university, I was exhausted from studying and decided to take a year out to go travelling. I worked three jobs during university and carried those on during the summer to save enough to travel to New Zealand and South East Asia. I remember distinctly standing in Koh San Road, Bangkok, and receiving confirmation I’d been accepted to the bar course at BPP and thinking, “I’m not sure I want to do this”. A few days later, I phoned my parents and said that I didn’t want to take up the course, I was scared of the debt and I wasn’t yet convinced that barrister was the job for me. I’d done three mini-pupillages during university, at 4 Paper Buildings, Stour Chambers and Guildford Chambers and as fantastic as they were, it just didn’t feel right. My parents, of course, assumed I was having a “moment” whilst away travelling but supported my decision and told me to rethink it on my return. I deferred the course but, ultimately, turned it down. 

When I returned home, I needed money and started looking for legal jobs in Brighton & Hove. I managed to get a job as a Legal Secretary working in family law. My boss at the time, who I now consider a very good friend and mentor, told me about the Legal Executive course (CILEX) as she had done that and later converted to a solicitor and became a Partner. At the time, I don’t think Legal Executives could become Partners although this has now, of course, changed or I wouldn’t be where I am now. 

I funded CILEX by working full time in my Legal Secretary role and working two other bar jobs in the evenings and a flat shared with a friend in central Brighton. I remember distinctly studying all hours and for exams up in London, I holed up in the cheapest Airbnb in a dodgy part of Kings Cross in a room where I could touch the toilet, bed and wardrobe all at the same time and would study between exams.  

I passed my exams and, during the course of my CILEX studies, changed roles a few times but stayed mostly within family law and progressed to paralegal. I was ill for a year and off work, I got married, became a mum and ultimately, qualified as a Legal Executive.   

What barriers did you encounter on your career journey so far, and how did you overcome them?

I would say that my main challenge has been some people seeing CILEX as a secondary qualification to the LPC. I overcame this by simply demonstrating my skills, working hard to become a specialist and exceeding expectations. 

I am a vehement advocate for CILEX. As an employer, I value vocational skills and work experience and this is what CILEX gives you. That is not to say that the academics of the LPC should be dismissed, but you still study in CILEX, you still learn and, if anything, you receive more tailored skills and experience in a particular practice area, which serves to benefit a business massively and make for specialised and focused lawyers who know what area they want to practice in. I would like to think that, now CILEX can be partners, set up their own ABS’, become Judges, that this view is one for the history books. 

What brought you to GoodLaw? What do you value about working here?

I returned from leave after becoming a mum and my previous place of employment did not treat me well and it felt like I was pushed into a demotion, so I looked for a change straight away. I sent out my CV and tailored cover letters to a few select firms and GoodLaw was new, dynamic and seemed like the modern environment I was looking for. I was employed to join another lawyer to build a family department, although they left the week I started so it was me on my own. I have now been at GoodLaw Solicitors LLP for six years, and in that time I have been supported by my Partners to build the department, tender for a legal aid contract, market, and network and have built something collegiate and client-focused. I have always felt that this is a firm that has a fresh way of thinking, the friendly open atmosphere keeps me coming to work every day and the freedom to progress and develop is refreshing. 

How did you become a Partner?

By the time I had become a Partner, the family department had grown to around 6 lawyers and 4 support staff and, basically, I asked at a time when I thought I had worked to show my commitment and value to the firm. I loved GoodLaw and was committed to the firm, the ethos and my colleagues and was totally invested. I became a Partner on 1 April 2020, about a week after the first lockdown and, all I can say is that was an utter baptism of fire and the biggest, and most beneficial learning curve there could have been.  

What are the most valuable lessons you have learned? 

I would say that the most valuable lesson is to understand, at every level of career development, what is expected from you from everyone you deal with (colleagues, clients, professional connections), to actively manage expectations and be realistic but also to personally strive to exceed expectations.

Other important lessons and skills I have learned are to be able to relate to all people in all situations; to care but not take it home with you and to balance that work-life dynamic. Well-being is so important and something which can so easily be lost sight of in law, especially in family where court deadlines are short, and work is fast-paced. 

Goodlaw netball team

Emma, captain of the Goodlaw Solicitors netball team (bottom middle)

How do you manage that work-life balance? 

I found netball again when I was 32 and now I would never change it. There is something so beneficial about turning up to a game for an hour after work and just running it off. I’ve met amazing people through the sport and my team is a wonderful bunch of ladies with all different life experiences. We go on tournament weekends, and it really is the best thing I have done for my well-being. 

I also have a wonderfully supportive family and friends and I enjoy spending time with my son and just walking the dogs across the South Downs. 

What has been the best moment so far in your career?

If you asked me this every year, the answer would probably be different as every year has a highlight. However, overall as it stands, I would say my highlight is being supported and given the freedom to develop a family law department within a firm, which is now successful, with 8 lawyers, 6 paralegals and a good local reputation. Individually, there are always those cases that stick with you, and I have had some really good results over the years that I will always remember. 

Contact Emma and her team today for your Family Law enquiry on 01273 956 283 or email [email protected].

By Published On: August 17th, 2022Categories: Insights

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