Coodes is celebrating the First Hundred Years project, marking the centenary of the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919, which paved the way for women to become lawyers.
To support the event, Coodes is putting the spotlight on some of its own team members. Here, Pam Johns, Partner and Rural Services team leader, reflects on her legal career.
1.When and why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I never planned to be a lawyer. I planned to be an officer in the WRNS, as I thought they would pay me to play hockey and travel the world! A couple of months before my interview with the Admiralty Board my Dad died suddenly. My brother was only eight years old and I felt I couldn’t leave him and my Mum, as I would had to have done if I’d joined the WRNS. Then a job came up at the local Solicitors as a Trainee Legal Executive. I applied and the rest, as they say, is history.
2.What drives you in your role?
Although I didn’t plan on becoming a lawyer, and I thought it was a lot of “stuffy old lawyers” and “stuffy old books”, I was soon struck by the amount of people contact there was. In the non-contentious side of the law, dealing with Property and Wills and Trusts and Tax Planning, I soon discovered I could help people get From A to B, to where they wanted to be.
3.What or who has inspired you in your career?
I have been inspired by a number of colleagues who I’ve worked with or had dealings with over the years. I’m reluctant to single anyone out for fear of missing someone but as this is about women lawyers I’ll mention a few: Nicki Slateford, Kim Walker, Sue Glencross, Francis Foulkes, and Helen Davies.
4.What do you like about working for Coodes?
I’ve been with Coodes for 30 years now, so they must be doing something right! Although the firm has grown tremendously over the last three decades it is still a ‘family firm’ that endeavours to put its clients at the heart of everything it does.
5.What is your proudest moment (personal or professional)?
In addition to the births of my two children, there are a few others. One was being appointed Head Girl, as that was the result of a vote by my classmates, and another was receiving my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award at Buckingham Palace – I still remember my dear Mum floating about six inches above the carpet inside the Palace! Three years ago I was invited to join the Court Leet here in Holsworthy. It would take me too long to explain the significance of that to non-Holsworthians but, if you’ve a spare hour or so I’ll gladly tell you all about it over a pint or two at The Bradworthy Inn, which I own with my daughter, Robyn. And the pub is something else I’m very proud of, as it’s our 10th anniversary this November.
6.What changes have you seen during your career that have affected female lawyers?
I think some of the greatest change has been around flexible working and remote working.
7.What advice would you give to a young woman considering a legal career?
If possible, and I know this is getting harder and harder, but try to gain as much work experience as you can in different areas of the law and speak to lawyers to get a feel of what it’s all about. Don’t just go by programmes like LA Law, Ali McBeal and Suits! Remember too that studying at university for a Law degree is not the only route and there are alternatives.
Pam Johns is a Partner and Rural Services team leader at Coodes Solicitors.