Our Spotlight on our solicitor interview series shines a light on the talent of our legal professionals. Here, we get to know more about the people behind the expert advice. Next up in the series is Senior Commercial Solicitor, Emily Sadler. Emily joined the Harper James team in June 2023, following her time as a partner at Paris Smith LLP.
How did you begin your career?
‘I took the traditional route into law,’ Emily says. ‘I studied Law at university, did my LPC and then secured a two-year training contract. In many ways, I think it’s safe to say I ‘fell into’ law. One thing led to another, and 16 years (and three firms) later, here I am! I remember being interested in the law even in my teens, which led me to undertake work experience at some of the high-street firms in my local area. This gave me a good insight into what it was like to work in an office environment, as a lawyer.’ Emily adds. ‘It might sound cheesy, but films like Erin Brockovich coupled with the thought of being able to make a difference to society through the law inspired me back then too.’
Did you have any expectations of the legal industry?
‘My expectations of the legal industry as a law student and a trainee solicitor were rather clouded by US TV shows such as Ally McBeal, Legally Blonde and Suits… so in some respects, I was surprised to learn that law is not as glamourous as TV makes it out to be!’ says Emily. ‘It involves actual paperwork for a start, although a lot less now with the advances in technology. But it has lived up to my expectations in that it has provided me with a solid, secure and satisfying career that I enjoy.’
What are your main areas of commercial law expertise? Do you cover any niche areas?
‘I advise on an array of commercial contracts including terms for the supply of goods and services, non-disclosure agreements, distribution and agency agreements, outsourcing agreements, website terms and IT contracts. My particular expertise and interests lie in franchising, and I have acted for franchisors and franchisees in many sectors since I qualified in 2007.’
How have you found working at Harper James so far?
‘I have really enjoyed my time with Harper James so far. I genuinely thought the flexibility without judgement, the no bureaucracy and no red tape culture were too good to be true, but it has thoroughly lived up to its promises.’ Emily explains. ‘Everyone is friendly and supportive and even with most of the team working remotely, you still feel as part of a close-knit team.’
‘Harper James is a far cry from the type of firms I did my work experience in as a teenager – it’s like they have been given the opportunity to revamp how a law firm can best serve both its clients and lawyers without the restrictions of doing something just because “that’s how it’s always been done”.’
What do you think your clients value most about the way you work with them?
‘I would like to think that my clients feel that I’m approachable and think of me as part of their in-house team. I listen to their requirements and try not to overcomplicate matters. At the same time, I always advise my clients on the potential risks of a contract which they may not notice or be focussing on, if they’re keen to close on a deal.’
Do you have any hobbies? What do you do to unwind?
‘My two children keep me very busy outside of work – when I’m not at work, I’m their social secretary and taxi driver!’ Emily says. ‘Aside from that, I’m a member of a ladies-only running club and try to get out twice a week to keep active. I also love to travel, and I’m always planning a holiday whenever I have the chance. We as a family recently took a cruise around the Fjords from the port of Southampton – which is five minutes away from our house!’
What’s the best piece of legal advice you could give a business?
‘It’s often overlooked and not considered to be a high priority on the task list, but it’s important that you have properly drafted terms of business in place, and they need to be reviewed and updated regularly – no matter how big or small your business may be. These documents need to be specifically tailored (rather than simply copied!) to your business and drafted so they protect your business should you run into any problems with a customer.’
‘Hopefully, you won’t have to rely on these contracts too often, but in the event that you need to, the time and money spent on these documents will pay dividends! Also, ensure that you and your sales staff properly understand how to incorporate these terms into the contract with your customer so that they are legally enforceable.’