Charlotte John, associate in the employment & pensions group at DAC Beachcroft LLP...
What is your role at DAC Beachcroft?
I am an associate in the employment and pensions group. I am responsible - together with four associates and two partners - for managing a team of 20 employment lawyers based in Manchester. We also manage a number of key client accounts in the retail and leisure sector including Arcadia, McDonald's, Roadchef and Pets at Home.
Why did you choose a career in law?
I have always liked a good argument (no surprises there for those who know me!) and my headmaster told me that a career in law would suit me. At the start, I had aspirations of working in child protection but having grown up in a family who are mainly employed in the retail sector I was soon persuaded that I would be better placed in a commercial law firm.
What's the best thing about your job?
Discount burgers and the chance to work in the Oxford Circus Top Shop for the day…and also the opportunity to work with a team of excellent lawyers!
What keeps you working at DAC Beachcroft?
The role allows me to work for a number of the main players in my sector and I am able to draw on the expertise of over 100 employment lawyers. The team I work with are a good laugh and we enjoy a relaxed and supportive working environment. As with any commercial law firm, there is pressure to hit our targets but there is also a healthy recognition by the senior management team of the importance of a work/life balance.
What's the most interesting case that you have dealt with?
I am sure I should refer to one of the multi-party protective award claims, or advising on preventing strike action, but if I'm honest the most interesting case is probably one of the many involving alcohol and Christmas parties….
Where do you see your firm in five to ten years?
DAC Beachcroft continues to grow at a steady pace. We have recently announced a joint venture with Scottish firm Andersons and we now employ over 2,000 people with offices in both the UK (London, Bristol, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Newport and Winchester) and internationally (Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Spain). I anticipate that this growth will continue as the firm seeks to establish itself as one of the dominant players in the global marketplace.
What would you have been if you weren't a lawyer?
Given my complete lack of any artistic talents whatsoever... a political correspondent for the BBC or an outdoor activity instructor up in the highlands of Scotland.
What would you advise lawyers beginning their legal career today?
Concentrate on building relationships with your client contacts and colleagues and don't stress too much about your work load. Get your work/life balance right from day one.
What do you think are the biggest challenges/opportunities for 2012?
The biggest opportunity and challenge for this year are one and the same, competing for work in an increasingly competitive legal market where the expectations of quality are rightly as high as they have ever been but the demand to deliver that quality at low cost is equally as fierce.