Our spotlight on our solicitors series gives us the chance to showcase the talent of our legal professionals. With these interviews, we get the chance to discover the people behind the legal expertise. This time, we caught up with senior commercial lawyer, Liz Appleyard.
How did you begin your career? What/who inspired you to pursue a career in law?
‘It’s probably unheard of these days, but I went from secondary school, to university, to Law Society finals before starting my legal training all without a break.’ says Liz. ‘I chose law as my degree because I thought it might be interesting, but at that point, I still had no real idea about what I wanted to do as a career. I then did some work experience in some local law firms and also at the Citizen’s Advice Bureau – the rest is history.’
What are your main areas of commercial law expertise? Do you cover any niche areas in particular?
‘Commercial contracts cover a range of different types of agreements and the variety is what I really enjoy about my work. I like to focus on general commercial agreements, especially those where a bespoke solution is needed.’ explained Liz. ‘For the first few years after I qualified, I worked on a mixed caseload of corporate and commercial work before specialising in commercial contracts. I think this has given me a wider perspective on many commercial agreements.’
Is there a particular aspect of your job that you’re most fond of?
‘I really enjoy working with clients and getting to understand their businesses. I would always welcome a visit to a production facility or warehouse. It is amazing how much you see on visits like that which then frames what needs to be included in their terms of business.’
Define commercial law in a sentence?
‘Achieving a commercial solution which meets the client’s objectives and has risk management as the essential element.’
Can you recall any key highlights of your career so far?
‘There have been so many highlights – it’s hard to choose. Getting a deal over the line with a client that is happy with the end result is always a highlight. Working with junior lawyers and seeing them progress in their careers is also a great privilege. It is so rewarding to see them develop their skills and to be able apply all the theory to practical commercial advice.’
What do your clients value the most about how you work with them?
‘I think clients value my pragmatic approach to commercial matters – this is something I’ve refined over the years.’
How have you found working at Harper James? How is it working with clients/the people at HJ?
‘I’m approaching the end of my first year at HJ and it’s been great.’ says Liz. ‘The firm has a group of talented lawyers who are always willing to contribute to any project. It’s been lovely to see how approachable and friendly everyone is. The firm also has a fantastic client base and is attracting great new businesses all the time, so there is always plenty of interesting projects to work on.’
Any hobbies? What do you do to unwind outside of work?
‘Having moved house to what could have been described as a ‘project’ a few years ago, I’m still trying to put the garden to rights – the builders stomped all over it. But working on my own garden made me realise that I love visiting other gardens to get some inspiration.’ says Liz. ‘I also enjoy going to the theatre to watch a show when I can spare the time and having realised recently (after 30 years!) that I live only an hour away from Stratford-upon-Avon, I’m determined to visit more often.’