Eighteen years ago I opened what was then known as Jacqueline Emmerson Solicitors in Sunderland with one secretary and no clients. I had no idea where I would be eighteen years later. All I knew was that I had hit the glass ceiling, I wanted a better career and I knew that I could offer excellent client service.
Within eight months our firm had obtained Legal Aid franchises to operate in six different areas of law. I was exhausted but my lovely franchise manager from the Legal Aid Board and my secretary were overjoyed and literally jumping for joy. As I stood there staring at them they wondered if I was secretly imploding with excitement!
Nine months after opening the firm, my husband Michael Robinson joined the firm. We were married on a Saturday and on the Monday there he was at Emmersons.
Shortly thereafter the Law Society introduced the Family Law Panel. I have always been proud of the fact that I was one of the first and youngest solicitors in the country to be awarded panel membership.
So where are we now?
We now trade as Emmersons Solicitors Ltd. I have gone from being Senior Partner to Managing Director. The business has grown and matured and I would say, like its age, has become more adult. We now have thirteen fee earners covering a wide range of law from Family to Residential and Commercial Conveyancing, Wills and Probate, Crime, Prison Law and Motoring. We operate out of two offices and we have clients not only throughout the whole country but right across the world. We are taking work from our competitors in London on a daily basis. This, I feel, helps us to reverse the North South Divide in our own way. We have managed to create extra jobs in the North East and we aren’t finished yet.
We have also managed to put the North East legal scene on the legal map. Twice we have been shortlisted for The Law Society Excellence Awards. Once for our marketing campaigns; we were mentioned in Parliament for our work with prisoners. In 2015 we were shortlisted for our Private Client Department and the work we undertake on behalf of elderly clients. I was shocked when we arrived at the awards, it was so London Centric. This made our team especially proud. We were one of only two firms in the North East to be shortlisted.
I am also very proud of the fact that I was appointed Honorary Solicitor for SSAFA in Newcastle. This is in recognition of the support that Michael and I have always given to serving and retired Service Personnel. Michael spent years taking a case to the European Courts to clear the name of one of our soldier clients. This is one of his career highlights together with being responsible for a change in the law relating to ASBOs.
So a big thank you to everyone who has helped us and supported us on our way. With special thanks to the late Bill Scanlon who took time out of his busy day to walk into my office on that first terrifying day to welcome me to the legal community in Sunderland. To my husband who is the visionary in all of this, to our very hardworking and dedicated staff and to my Dad, there as back up and support throughout.