As a number of the Partners at The Johnson Partnership approach the second half of their careers the issue of sabbaticals has raised its head.

 

A lengthy period of unpaid leave which allows the beneficiary to completely unwind and reconsider their position in the world is something that many value really highly. A sabbatical provides the opportunity to reset and start off in a new direction or simply reboot and go back to an existing post with new approaches, new thoughts, and new enthusiasm.

 

No specified period has been chosen, on the basis that each person availing themselves of the opportunity will have their own ideas about what they would like to do and how much time they would like to take off. Three months, four months, and even six months sabbaticals are actively being considered.

 

Interestingly, it is those who are towards the middle of their careers, rather than approaching the end who seem most keen to step back and consider what the next 20 or 25 years hold for them.

 

Any sabbatical inevitably puts extra demands on colleagues and assistants alike, but it also gives younger staff the chance to come forward and prove their worth and try out new ideas and ways of working.

 

All in all, the sabbatical seems an entirely sound way of moving forward. Within the firm we are truly fortunate to have sufficient supervisors already qualified to be able to allow for a seamless transition.

It gives us genuine and unalloyed pleasure to announce that Charlotte Cullen is The Johnson Partnership’s newest trainee solicitor.

 

Charlotte started with us on 9th September 2013 after a three month trip to Thailand which still remains veiled in mystery.  Recruited as a member of the Business Defence and Fraud Team, Charlotte has always remained loyal to White Collar Crime and paper-heavy cases.

 

Having swept all before her in terms of exams and accreditations, Charlotte also can boast a rare distinction of having been robbed by and rescued by a Johnson client in the course of the same evening.

 

We are sure that Leicester City’s Championship winning season was all down to Charlotte’s enthusiastic support and so we decided the time had come for us to back a winner.

Good luck Charlotte, although frankly we doubt that you will need it.

All of our staff who regularly work around the Sheffield Magistrates’ Court seem likely to be caught up in the government’s new flexible court pilot starting in September.

 

The proposals will see the Sheffield Magistrates’ Court opening for business at 08:00am and sitting until 6:30pm.

 

There has been a lot of focus on the effect this will have on the personal lives of court clerks, ushers, prosecutors, Defence solicitors, and those appearing before the court as witnesses or defendants.

 

Many firms fear that there will be difficulties in staffing courts at unusual times because of the contracts of employment enjoyed by well-respected, trusted, and time-served employees.

 

In a recent offer of employment we have been pleased to confirm to a new member of staff that their start time can be put back to enable a small child to be delivered to school. These sorts of arrangements that are borne out of practicality and common decency are now likely to result in the onus for covering out of hours courts falling on partners or potentially self-employed contractors.

 

In other firms we have heard that open conflict is breaking out between solicitors who are and who are not able to vary their working days to cover the court pilot.

 

All of these changes stem from nothing more than a desire by the Ministry of Justice to be seen to be keeping the use of their buildings and the systems within them under constant review. Nowhere, outside of the Ministry, has there ever been any pressure from anyone at all for the piloted changes to be introduced.  If the pilot is to come, it may be short-lived and ill-fated.

It must be well over 20 years since a Johnson’s team triumphed in the Young Solicitors’ Five-a-Side tournament to the consternation of all. I say this, not least, because our team featured both Mr Soughton and Mr Saunders, neither of whom can even remember what it felt like to be a young solicitor.

 

In 2017 the baton has at last been passed to an equally bold and forthright band of Johnson’s athletes.

 

The Johnson Partnership women’s cricket team have recently raced to a respectful second place in the Prosecco Cricket League.

 

Iona (call me Geoff) Thomson, Shannon (make that Eddie) Barlow, Sarah (my name’s Derek) Underwood, Rebecca (make that Aravinda) Da Silva, Charlotte (Fraud! How do you mean Fraud!) Cullen, Jaki (Lead on) MacDuff and Emma (Daughter of that Lancashire League itinerant and wicketkeeper Stuart the Cat) Coverley are the component parts of a well-oiled fizz-driven machine.

 

With the recent explosion in women’s sport, we assume it is only a matter of time before they win the Grey Goose Women’s Rugby Sevens and put in a solid performance in the Pinot Grigio Winter League.

 

The lethal combination of alcohol and sport seems guaranteed to ensure a full turn out whatever the weather and whatever the competition.

 

Congratulations all on beating those naughty people from Keyworth!

 

 

 

At our Annual Partners’ Meeting Donna Pursglove from our Mansfield office was nominated as a potential Partner to be voted on by the Equity Partners in August of this year.

We are delighted to announce that on 2nd August 2017 all eight Equity Partners offered up a resounding “Yes” to the question “Would you like Donna Pursglove to be a Partner in the firm?”

 

Hardworking, caring, well-organised, thorough, humane, and supportive Donna Pursglove is an exceptional recruit to the Partnership. A skilled lawyer and tactician, Donna knows every possible twist and turn of Magistrates’ Court life.

 

As well-loved in the police stations as she is at court, Donna is a special favourite of everyone involved in the North Notts Criminal Justice and Criminal Investigation systems.

 

Much loved by colleagues and Partners alike, we can’t wait for Donna to join us for our September Partners’ Meeting but there is some fear and trepidation about the speech that she is likely to make about us all at her first Annual Partners’ Meeting next summer.

In July we are delighted to announce that we will be welcoming Andrew Swaby to The Johnson Partnership. A giant of both the Crown and Magistrates’ Courts, Andrew is here to lend added presence to our advocacy team.

 

A man who is as happy at Shepcote Lane Police Station as he is in the Court of Appeal, Andrew will be joining our Sheffield office team at 620 Attercliffe Road.

 

As one of the best known advocates in Sheffield, we suspect that Andrew will bring with him his own Pied Piper following. We hope that Andrew and all who come with him will approve of the change and feel happy as part of a brand new scene.

We want to offer our heartiest congratulations to Benn Robinson on his 2:1 LLP from Nottingham Trent University. Benn completed his degree on a part time basis whilst working hellishly hard in the firm’s Crown Court Department.

 

Most people are rewarded for great exam grades with champagne, flowers, and a party; in Benn’s case his reward is a further two years study alongside all the demands of a training contract.

 

For the first time we have decided to have one of the up and coming members of the firm undertake a training contract at the same time as completing a distance learning LPC. Inevitably, the process will be demanding. Benn will have to learn about two entirely new areas of law at the same time as passing both skills and academic exams on a regular basis. It is true that the process wouldn’t suit everybody, but in Benn Robinson we believe we have the man for the job!

We are delighted to announce that from July 2017 Shazia Parveen is to join us at our Sheffield office. Situated in the John Banner Business Centre at 620 Attercliffe Road, Shazia will be well-positioned between Sheffield Magistrates’ Court and Shepcote Lane Police Station.

 

For many years Shazia Parveen has been the queen of Howells Criminal team. We count ourselves particularly lucky that she has agreed to transfer her allegiances and release her flat in our own Sheffield realm.

 

Shazia is well-renowned for her work both in police stations and at the Magistrates’ Court. Bail hearings, sentencing hearings, trials, Youth Court proceedings and all the rest of the daily fare of Magistrates’ Court life are meat and drink to Shazia.

 

We look forward to welcoming Shazia among us and hope that she is going to feel as positive about her new home as we do.

In recent times the LAA have visited both of our new offices. Back in May our new Lincoln premises at Unit 3, Waterside, Lincoln was visited by the LAA to confirm that the premises existed, to confirm that they were properly staffed, and to confirm that they met all of the requirements of the 2017 Contract.

 

Towards the end of June they had the pleasure of visiting at 4th Floor, 86 Victoria Street in Grimsby. We are happy to say that on this occasion the offices were found to be properly staffed, open for business, and with private interviewing facilities at the ready.

 

Inevitably, the new 2017 Crime Contracts have meant that a large number of new premises are being hired out as solicitors’ offices. We are delighted to see that the LAA are taking a proactive approach to confirming whether they are indeed compliant with the requirements of the new regime.

We have had time to reflect recently on how important bars have been to The Johnson Partnership. Our original business planning took place in several licensed bars. As the years have gone by we have spent increasing amounts of time in coffee bars. Much of our workplace endeavour is designed to move people from one side of some bars to the other.

Nevertheless, we never thought that we would become heavily involved in helping a stream of young people get their first foothold at the Bar as pupil barristers.

In times gone by, Vicky Sheppard-Jones moved from our Crown Court Department to become a successful pupil and tenant at Carmelite Chambers in London. In more recent times, James Olphert successfully found pupillage with the Crown Prosecution Service having worked with us for a relatively short period of time.

Helen Towers has worked with us both as an employee and a freelance police station advisor, and we are delighted to say that she is to start pupillage at Dere Street Chambers later this year.

The highly regarded Rebecca Coleman worked with us at The Johnson Partnership for about 2 ½ years, assisting in the Crown Court Department and advising in police stations. Rebecca is now a successful second six pupil at No 1 High Pavement Chambers in Nottingham.

We have received the brilliant news that Anthony Pettengell, a former valued member of the firm’s Business Defence and Fraud Department, has succeeded in his search for pupillage and is to join Fountain Chambers in Middlesbrough.

Our most recent success story centres around Rebecca Da Silva, who after a little over seven months with The Johnson Partnership has secured pupillage at Citadel Chambers in Birmingham, starting April 2018.

By offering day to day contact with members of the Bar, as well as solicitor HCAs, we have tried to ensure that all our would-be pupils are in the strongest possible position when it comes to making applications to Chambers. Opportunities for advocacy before judges in chambers and tribunals ensure that staff do not lose the skills that they have developed while mooting and during the BPTC. Familiarity with Crown Court documentation also means that at interview our staff are able to talk on an intensely practical level to the interviewing panels.

All in all, whilst it may not assist in our staff retention statistics, we are delighted to have been able to help some marvellous young talent along the way.

DMJ

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