Find out more about the people behind the advice in this new series of interviews with our solicitors. Commercial partner Sarah Gunton talks us through her life in law.
How long have you worked at Harper James?
Almost four years – I joined in September 2016.
What inspired you to practise law in the first place? Tell us about your legal career so far
I studied history at university and I really enjoyed a contemporary documents module in my last term. I didn’t know what to do after I graduated. My great uncle was a judge and his wife suggested that I should be a lawyer, which clicked with me! At the start of my career, I decided that didn’t want to move to a city firm, so I trained in Edge and Ellison in Birmingham. Then I moved to DLA, where I became a partner. I moved to an in-house role with a client, had a baby and took some time off. After my first child, it became obvious that I couldn’t return to a traditional law firm, because I needed so much more flexibility than they could offer. I saw an advert on Mumsnet for a commercial lawyer at Harper James and I applied!
How does working with Harper James compare with other firms you have worked at?
It is so much better, the culture is lovely from the top down. People treat each other decently and that’s what I really care about. I trust my colleagues, the quality of the work is great and I feel that I have access to it. I was blocked from good quality work at other firms.
Define commercial law in a sentence
There are two functions for what I do – I develop relationships and build on them, and advise on them when they have broken down. The most important thing is that there is a meeting of minds between the parties, so that they are clear on what they have to do.
What’s the best piece of commercial advice you could give a business?
Do not disclose confidential information unless you have to! An NDA is no protection in practice.
What has been the proudest moment at Harper James/of your career so far?
In 2003 I acted for Lex Transfleet and that was a big deal for me. It was a big project (10-year contract), that I managed from start to finish.
What do you do to unwind?
I enjoy spending time at my allotment and cycling.
Tell us a prediction for your practice area in 2020 or beyond
There will be a closer focus on the allocation of risk.
What advice would you give regarding the challenges businesses will be facing from the COVID-19 outbreak?
Businesses will need to be innovative and meet the requirements of a different world. Everyone should factor pandemics into their contingency planning.