Teresa Payne is managing partner of Parfitt Cresswell, a regional law firm with offices across the South East of England which also trades using the names Max Barford; Colemans; Jevons, Riley and Pope; Charles Coleman and Co; Copley Clark and Keene Marsland. She shares a day in her life with The Brief
I never wanted to be a lawyer. In fact, when I was young, I couldn’t think of anything less appealing! But life is full of surprises and, after a failed relationship in my 20s and a bad experience instructing a law firm, my opinion changed and today I’m a solicitor and managing partner at Parfitt Cresswell.
Here’s a day in my life.
Each morning I have the joy of being greeted by my two dogs, Peggy and Jasper. They make it impossible to not start the day with a smile. I also have three donkeys, and when I hear their morning braying from their paddock just at the end of the garden, I know it is time to get up and start the day.
However, my workday actually starts the evening before when I plan for the coming day and remind myself of the meetings and tasks I have in the diary. I believe a lot of success comes down to planning and in order to get the most out of each day, I need to be organised and plan how I spend my time. I like to make sure I am focusing on the right things and adding value where I can.
After the morning hug with Peggy and Jasper I take another quick look at my diary and scan through my emails to check if there are any changes to the day, and then reply to emails or diarise as required.
The Personal Touch
When I started out on my legal journey, I quickly realised that there was much more to being a lawyer than just legal knowledge. Yes, of course, the legal expertise is an essential part of what we do, it is why clients come to us.
But what I have found most clients are really looking for when instructing a law firm is support, guidance and the personal touch. They want to know that things are going to be okay.
As lawyers, being immersed in the legal sector makes it easy to forget that, for many people, instructing a law firm is a daunting prospect and often comes at a time of emotional distress and uncertainty. Even scenarios that are positive such as buying your dream home can come with significant stress and worry!
Therefore, it is essential that we offer not only expert legal assistance but also a first-class client experience. I believe that the client may not always remember the name of a lawyer, but they will remember how that lawyer and the firm made them feel.
And if they feel their experience has been a good one, they will return to us and recommend us to their friends and family. This is where I focus a significant amount of my time within the business: looking ahead to how we serve our clients in the future, and today I am reviewing our client feedback data prior to meeting with our Business Development Director to look at how we are meeting our clients’ needs and aspirations, and how we can provide an additional layer of support when required.
Making the Law Accessible
As a firm, we aim to make obtaining legal information and advice accessible and we are keen to provide our clients with as much helpful information as possible.
However, we know we cannot see everyone and, therefore, in an effort to reach as many people as possible we have published our legal guidebooks that are available to all new enquiries or to purchase from Amazon.
We have published two books – The Good Divorce Guide and The Later Living Guide – and my next meeting is an update meeting to go through the upcoming launch of our third book, The Home Mover’s Guide, which we will be releasing later this year, and agree a timeline to publication.
Strong Community Ties
At Parfitt Cresswell, we are very much part of the communities we serve – and that includes the many business communities that draw on the expert legal and commercial services we provide.
We actively support the local business community, as well as being involved with several local charities and hospices, and launched Connections Radio in 2017 as part of our media and communications initiative to offer local businesses/business owners a platform on which to promote what they do and to share their story.
It is a great tool through which to engage with our local communities, and this afternoon I catch up with our radio producer to discuss a proposed new show highlighting Ukrainian women who have come to the UK under the Ukrainian Homes scheme and have started their own business.
Fulfilling Your Potential: Developing the Team
We feel that in order to provide our clients with the very best service it is essential that the wellbeing of our team is a focal point.
I have always been very focused on employee wellbeing, and my next meeting of the day is with our finance and administration director to review our support and training within the firm and review the agenda for our upcoming Business Academy training event.
As a firm, we know it is our people that make the real difference to the lives of our clients. Therefore, we want to make sure we are making a difference to the quality, pace and potential of our peoples’ lives.
As such, we have cultivated a career environment that develops skills, encourages the use of initiative and allows every individual to achieve their full potential. This culture is highlighted/emphasised by our Business Academy events which run every quarter at an off-site location to bring the teams from across our nine offices together.
We are a community of professionals bound by shared values, a commitment to excellence and a determination to harness the potential of every team member.
As managing partner, it is my responsibility to create the vision, share it and ensure that we have the right people who will buy into, add to and complement this vision. My aim is to surround myself with people who are better than me to ensure that we go from strength to strength.
My purpose as a leader is to create more leaders that can join the team and be part of the current and future success of Parfitt Cresswell. These planning meetings can be quite time intensive, but the results are more than worth it!
My final task of the day is always my personal development and taking time to reflect of the day – what worked, what didn't go so well and what have I learnt. It is very important for me personally.
The journey of learning never stops and it’s important to stay on the ball and up-to-date with the latest developments, as well as to check in with myself to see if I am showing up and being the best version of me.
To further help with my personal development, I engage in conversations with thought leadership groups that challenge and encourage me. It’s also so important to have an inner circle that can assist, support and challenge you when required.
I have found great mentors and Masterminds Groups to have been invaluable over the years, as they will see things about my business from a different angle that will open my thinking to a different way of doing things. One of the greatest lessons I have learnt is that we can unlearn as well as learn behaviours, and that allows us to create the life we want.
- Connect with Teresa Payne via LinkedIn