Jane Hughes, Senior Associate, talks about her career break and return to work experience in this short interview.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself – where did you train and work before joining S&B?
I trained at Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, which was a major insurance practice at that time. I then moved to a small firm in Wales, Hughes Griffiths Partnership. After that I came back to London and worked at Rosling King, and then I moved to D J Freeman. After having my daughter I went to Collyer Bristow where I ultimately became a partner. So I have worked in legal practices of all shapes and sizes and done work of different types.
2. Could you tell us about any other experience in law before you took your career break?
When I started out in construction law there were not many women in the specialism and it was not unusual to go to events and be one of very few women in a room full of men in dark suits. Things are very different now, which is a good thing.
3. How long was your career break?
Around eight and a half years.
4. What brought about your decision to return to a career in the law?
Being at home just got a bit boring! I am much happier being back at work.
5. What sort of routes back into law did you consider? Did you want to return to private practice as opposed to in-house?
I looked at all the options, and thought I’d try a few applications to private practice to test the water. I received three job offers pretty quickly, and here I am.
6. What influenced your decision to work at Stevens & Bolton?
I liked the idea of a commute to Guildford instead of up into London, where I had always worked previously, and I have known Stephen Rockhill for many years.
7. What have you enjoyed most so far about working at Stevens & Bolton?
Guildford is a charming town and a really nice place to work, I love my lunchtime walks down the river or a quick stroll around the castle grounds.
8. Have there been any challenges to returning to a career in law after an extended break?
Having to remember different passwords for all the different computer systems is a challenge! I also find the paperless office and the absence of my habitual chronological bundle of documents for each case quite tricky. I haven’t yet found a system that can replace that tried and tested system satisfactorily.
9. What would you say to any lawyers thinking of returning to law after a career break?
Give it a go! It doesn’t take long to get back in the swing of things, and you will find that very little has changed. And you have probably developed a whole lot of skills that you never knew you had and which you can put to good use in the office environment - think negotiating skills, dealing with deadlines, incentivising your colleagues, spotting trouble as it’s brewing, dealing with rational and irrational clients, organisation skills, thinking ahead, time management……