As an aspiring lawyer I had obviously heard of HJA and in fact I had applied for a traineeship at the firm, but alas it was not meant to be. Instead in 2005 I qualified at a high street firm in Camden, incidentally a stone throw’s away from HJA’s then office on Camden High Street.
Fate intervened some years later though, when a vacancy became available for a solicitor in their new civil litigation team. I seized the opportunity and found myself at an interview in a basement with Peter Todd and the infamous Patrick Allen. Despite my trepidation that it had not gone my way, I was delighted when they offered me the position.
My employment at the firm coincided with a move to swanky new offices in Euston (complete with a bar in the basement!) where we remain to date.
It is hard to believe that that was 10 years ago.
Although time does fly, and it is easy to get comfortable and complacent, I don’t think that this readily explains why I remain at HJA a decade on.
I started as the first member of the new civil litigation team (now known as the much trendier ‘Dispute Resolution’) which has flourished into a team of 8 to include the additional of a subsidiary employment team. The work I do is varied and challenging, keeping me on my toes still and I relish that I am still learning and developing as a lawyer. Although I have taken more management responsibilities over time, the way I see it is that what I do in the background allows caseworkers to continue what they love doing – casework.
The firm itself started off as a 3 man band and now we employ over 200 people over 8 departments. The thing that will strike you about the firm is its diversity – both in terms of our workforce, our clients, and what we do. It sounds like an enigma of contradictions but it works because we remain true to the ethos on which the firm was founded on – fighting for justice, righting wrongs. It doesn’t matter if you are a wife or a husband, a tenant or a landlord, an employer or an employee, a Claimant or a Defendant. We make a real difference to people’s lives because we care and we can.
It sounds clichéd but don’t just take our word for it; our reputation is endorsed by our peers, clients and the industry, and we win awards for it.
Patrick Allen and HJA
Nobody encapsulates the HJA brand better than the man himself, Patrick Allen. Patrick has been my supervisor from day one and he has led by example. He has taught me about managing the law, myself, people and a business. He makes things happen through sheer force of his will. He is passionate about the law and his firm. His fierce determination has seen the firm go from strength to strength. In recognition of this, he has recently been awarded the Solicitors Journal life time achievement award.
It hasn’t been plain sailing for the firm or myself to remain committed to helping those who need legal assistance. We have had Jackson, LASPO, ever increasing court fees, raising of the small claims limit, annihilation of legal aid, and the list goes on.
But in the face of this adversity I have no doubt that we will survive and thrive because we have such inspiring lawyers who work tirelessly to drive the firm forward and get the best results for their clients. They are the cohesive force behind the success of the firm. I feel humbled and privileged to work amongst the brightest legal talent. For a lot of our lawyers, what they do isn’t just a job or a career but a calling. This view has been enhanced since sitting on the other side of the table recruiting trainees and promoting internally. The volume of applications we get is astounding, people flock to the HJA banner from far and wide. Recruitment of the right people is one of the key to our success story. HJA has become a badge of honour for employees now and bygone.
The firm is invested in nurturing its people. Many trainees stay on and have worked up to partnership. Coming from humble beginnings, as an ethnic minority woman, has not hindered my career at HJA – they made me associate in 2010, partner in 2014, equity partner in 2015 and board member in 2016
Whilst my career as a lawyer has flourished, my time at HJA has also been marked by momentous events in my personal life; buying my first home, getting married, and having two children. I feel I have matured both as a lawyer and a person here.
Anniversary celebrations at HJA
Coincident (or fate) would have it, as I mark my 10th anniversary with HJA, the firm is also celebrating its 40th birthday later this year.