I was born in a town in the North East of England called Middlesbrough which is famous for its industry and football team. I am inarguably proud of my birthplace and my roots and can always be called upon to speak about this wonderful place and the time I spent supporting “The Boro” at Ayresome Park (then Riverside) with my dad and older brother.
It was at the very early age of 14 when I had my first experience of a law office. It was a litigation firm in the centre of Middlesbrough. I always thought I would want to specialise in criminal law, and although I thoroughly enjoyed my work experience, it taught me crime doesn’t pay!
However, from thereon in, I was hooked: I wanted to be a lawyer.
I worked hard through GCSEs and A-levels and successfully achieved a law degree in Sheffield. With a quiet yet determined fighting spirit, I endeavoured to establish myself within the profession and become both independent and financially self-supporting I was never the first person to put her hand up in class but I was always confident enough to know what I wanted out of life.
Then I met my soulmate, my husband and subsequently the father of my two wonderful daughters.
My husband originated in the South East, so my natural progression saw me move and undertake my Legal Practice Course at the Guildford College of Law. My training contract was at a small boutique firm where the owner inculcated the significance of business acumen. I remain very much indebted to him for this foresight and remain, to this day, in contact with Michael Brooks, my mentor.
Having qualified, I decided I needed to challenge myself and found myself at a large Thames Valley firm. Although young, I was given the opportunity to be the Head of Department. This did not faze me, as the fee earners were extremely supportive, and I learned massively from my first inroad into management.
The journey to and from work was long and arduous, taking more hours from my day and life that I thought should be expected. Having listened to my mother’s wise words that I should not think about the age I should be for my firstborn but for my age for subsequent children that my thoughts then turned to motherhood. In preparation, I moved to a law firm nearer home, known for its specialism in Private Wealth. I managed a team of circa 8, became partner, and again, enjoyed the challenge. My first born, a daughter, was born shortly afterwards; I am honest enough to say, my priorities changed. I was a lawyer but now I was a mum. My name had changed from Alex to mummy over night. I decided I would continue working, and although I would continue to put my best efforts into work, this little bundle of joy needed my attention too. For the sake of my firm and my family, I stepped down as a Partner and reduced my hours. My career took a back seat. Despite always being so passionate about my career, at this point in my life, this felt right.
A couple of years later, after my love for the firm I once adored waned, I knew it was time for yet another challenge. I now found myself at Barlow Robbins. The support I was given by Tim Adams, a parent himself, was unlimiting. He understood the strains and struggles of a working parent. Hearing the words, “Don’t worry. I understand.” from my boss, at a time when it was such a struggle for me, had a huge impact. I knew that this was the firm for me. Due to this flexibility, the firm (particularly Tim) gave me, they received my commitment back, tenfold. I learnt a tremendous amount from Tim in terms of how to be a human, personable yet effective leader. If I can emulate Tim, I will know that I am the manager I have always wanted to be.
Life as a working mum is hard. There are times when I feel guilty especially when I can’t pick my girls up from school, when one is ill, but I can’t be with them and when, through Covid, I couldn’t co-educate them when other parents had the time. I had just become a Partner in a newly merged firm and my presence was understandably expected. However, my firm does, wherever possible, allows me the flexibility to see their productions, attend their open days, join their school trips etc. Human First is a Moore Barlow value and one, to which, I am hugely indebted. I am a huge Human First advocate.
I strongly believe in a strong independent woman. Am I a feminist? No! I just want my daughters to know that, although being a working mother is hard and having a professional career additionally has its drawbacks, being able to stand on your own two feet, feels delightfully refreshing and remarkable. It’s an achievement in itself.
I am so grateful to my husband, my parents and my brother for their unreserved support from childhood to motherhood to partnership. They, along with life’s little challenges, have moulded me to be the person I am now.
To all those women starting their career wondering whether you can hold down a professional career whilst having a family, then I say that it’s hard, but you can. It’s definitely worth it! Empower yourself to achieve your goals but temper it with the balance life requires. Be the role model for so many more woman in the future.
To my daughters:
Be strong, independent young women and help mould the future.