Meet our newest expert in residence: Samuel Phillips Law
If you think lawyers are all male, pale and stale, then have we got news for you
Samuel Phillips Law has been supporting the good people of the North East for more than a century now – through the hard times and the good, they’ve stood by our sides. But far from being old, tired and (as most traditions seem to demand) male-dominated, the team at SPL are refreshingly, well, relatable.
Having evened out the gender imbalance you’d see in most other law firms and then some, the solicitors you’ll meet at Samuel Phillips are young and dynamic. Some are single parents who’ve turned their own experiences into a passion for helping us to know our rights a little better; others are bright young things who haven’t been lured down south by the bright lights of the big smoke, but who are dedicated to making a difference right here in the North East. One was even a lead dancer in Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance! (Ok, so we may not be able to relate to that quite as much – although you’re yet to see us down the local on a Friday night).
What unites them all is that they happen to be ridiculously good at what they do – which is why we jumped at the chance to have them as our newest experts in residence. After all, only the best will do for our readers. So, before we bring you a new monthly series full of top tips and legal advice that is set to cover everything from pre-nups and divorce to discrimination in the workplace, what happens after we croak and what to know before buying a house, let us introduce you to some of SPL’s super solicitors.
ROISIN O’DONNELL – WILLS, PROBATE AND TRUSTS
Roisin is your go-to if you’re thinking about writing or changing your Will, have any queries about lasting power of attorney, or need some help administering estates. She also carries out any Court of Protection work.
‘Let’s face it, making something like a Will is on everyone’s “to do” list, but it feel quite daunting so a lot of people put it off,’ says Roisin. ‘I want my clients to feel reassured from start to finish that their personal affairs are all in order, and that they can easily pick up the phone and ring me at any point.’
Tell us something we might not know about you: ‘I used to be in Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance as a lead and backline dancer! I was performing in sold-out arenas all around the world for seven years before studying Law.’
HELEN GRIFFITHS – PROPERTY LAW
‘I help people achieve their property dreams,’ says Helen. ‘Whether it’s getting a foot on the property ladder, upsizing, downsizing or a bespoke build. I help people make their property assets work for them.’
What’s important to Helen is that her clients can do what they want to do with their property and that they’re aware of any potential stumbling blocks way ahead of time. So whether you’re looking for a family home that can grow with you or you’re buying to renovate and sell on, she’s your gal.
Tell us something we might not know about you: ‘I don’t have a law degree. Many people assume that you need to have one to practice, but the legal profession is diverse – as are the routes to qualifying.’
MARTHA CRAVEN – EMPLOYMENT LAW
Advising both companies and individuals about everything from settlement agreements and employment contracts to HR issues such as disciplinaries, grievances and absence management – not forgetting redundancies, restructuring, Employment Tribunal claims and TUPE transfers – Martha’s line of work is never dull.
‘It’s a really broad field, which is what makes it fascinating!’ she says. ‘We dedicate a huge proportion of our lives to our work, so helping my clients through difficult problems and getting the best outcome possible for them really is an incredible feeling. That’s what motivates me.’
Tell us something we might not know about you: I really enjoy gaming to unwind. I’m a big fan of first-person shooter games like Call of Duty and Titanfall, but I also love Crash Team Racing and use it to settle arguments at home!
FELICITY NELSON – WILLS, PROBATE AND TRUSTS
For Felicity, her work alongside Roisin is centred around making sure that her clients’ wishes can and will be carried out after their death. Her ability to prepare lasting power of attorneys helps loved ones manage their affairs if they’re not able to do so themselves, while helping administer estates means her clients don’t have to battle a mountain of paperwork when they’re grieving.
‘I’m most passionate about helping our clients and businesses put their affairs in order with minimal stress,’ Felicity tells us. ‘People assume instructing a solicitor will be a daunting, stressful, long and expensive process, but I’m dedicated to changing that misconception and showing our clients just how easy it can be.’
Tell us something we might not know about you: I’m a grade 6 ballet dancer.
SARAH WARD – FAMILY AND DIVORCE LAW
Whether just starting out in a new relationship or facing the breakdown of one, Sarah is here to provide help and support at every step of the way – and that includes advice on how best to make arrangements for any children involved.
‘I’m passionate about ensuring that, despite all the stresses and sadness that a breakdown of a relationship can bring, we make it as positive an experience as possible,’ explains Sarah. ‘And always have a few giggles along the way!’
Tell us something we might not know about you: ‘I’ve been divorced myself – not once, but twice. My own experiences of divorce certainly help me better understand the difficulties my clients are experiencing. And notwithstanding my own divorces and dealing with other people’s day in and day out, I’m still a hopeless romantic!’