“Treat clients as people, not cases” – the Hugh Jones way…

Today’s Wills and Probate talks to Rachel Dobson, managing director of Hugh Jones Solicitors, the largest firm of independent Court of Protection solicitors in the country, based in Manchester

How did you get involved in private client law?

“I actually cut my teeth in Commercial Litigation, although I have not practised in that field for over 20 years! I’ve known our firm chairman, Hugh Jones, for many years and was a trainee solicitor in his private client department at Pannone LLP. Having specialised in Commercial Litigation, I became a partner there and part of Pannone’s management team, including as head of HR and Compliance.

“After both Hugh and I left Pannone LLP for different reasons, he approached me and the ex-Finance Director, Jon Miller, to help him set up his new firm as a specialist Court of Protection and Private Client practice. The firm is based on strong principles aimed at supporting and looking after both our vulnerable clients and our employees and I’ve learned a huge amount about Court of Protection and Private Client work since we set the firm up in 2013.

“Many people choose a career in law with the hope of having a positive impact on their clients lives, but not everyone finds themselves in a position to achieve this. My colleagues work relentlessly to genuinely help people to live the best life they can and I have a great deal of respect for them.”

What do you feel passionately about (in the law)?

“Fairness and treating clients as people, not cases. I want all our employees to feel that they are supported in doing the right thing, ethically and on a human level, in their work. We feel very strongly that employees should be properly paid and encouraged to develop their skills.

“It’s so concerning to hear about legal staff being paid below minimum wage or being given completely unrealistic time recording targets when I’m interviewing job candidates. I cannot see how these can be achieved without exploiting clients (and putting unbearable pressure on the employees).”

How have you driven and embedded the culture at HJS?

“We live the culture and demonstrate our approach in the way that we deal both with our employees and clients. We believe that setting an example is critically important and overtly addressing moral/ethical issues as they arise, involving employees in those decisions, reinforces that approach. We try really hard to do the right thing, even if it isn’t always the easy thing.”

As a previous winner at The British Wills and Probate Awards tell us about your submission for Best Medium Firm at the recent Manchester Legal Awards.

“Our submission primarily focused on coping with the pandemic and how we supported clients and employees through that period. Despite many facing tough personal circumstances last year, our wonderful workforce came up trumps. They managed to support both each other and our vulnerable clients and continue to produce work of extraordinary quality.

“The firm has achieved record growth both in terms of new clients (up nearly 30%) and new staff (up 20%), cementing our national reputation in our specialist Court of Protection field.”

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Today's Wills and Probate