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Jenny Walker

Jenny Walker on people-led law

By Jenny Walker

Consultant Solicitor, Cognitive Law

Conscientiously balancing an equilibrium of personal and professional in her approach, Jenny Walker is a solicitor who cares about people.

Jenny knew from a young age that she wanted to be a lawyer, and her training and experience at numerous leading law firms informs her extensive legal knowledge. But it is the connection of working with people that truly underpins Jenny’s passion now practicing as a consultant solicitor specialising in later-life law for Cognitive Law – a contemporary, empowering, and client-led law firm.

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What do you like the most about being a solicitor?

I love working with people; I'm really interested in people and their stories, and you get a lot of that in my line of work.

I work with families and different generations. My area of work is so interesting from a social history point of view, and from a people point of view.

Many of my clients are from older generations and I think in our society we forget about the elderly; they've still got so much to offer, and they've got amazing stories to tell – one of my clients last week was reminiscing about the Queen's Coronation.

Another thing I love about my job is breaking down quite a complex area of law so that people completely understand what they're doing with their legal affairs like wills and powers of attorney.

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What advice would you give to younger generations regarding later-life legal issues?

There can be a reluctance from people to think about these things, particularly at a young age, but you need to make sure that what you’ve left behind you is easy to deal with, clear, and that you’ve thought about every angle possible. You’re never too young to sort out your legal affairs because incapacity can strike at any time.

The advice I would give is, have a think about it at least, talk to somebody about what you can do, and if you get everything sorted out you hopefully won’t have to think about it again for a long time.

What’s your approach to making complex legal processes as smooth and easy as possible for your clients?

In my career, I’ve had my share of tricky situations where you’re sitting with clients and you’re discussing deeply personal things within families.

I’d say my approach is honest, open, and clear about what could happen – I’m not afraid of saying how things are because people need to know the legal consequences of their actions. Because I administer estates as well as make wills for people, I’ve seen what can happen within families when a person dies.

"The way that you can practise the law has opened up – you don't have to work in the traditional model of a law firm on the high street or for a massive global firm."

What’s been your experience as a woman in the legal profession?

When I started, I was really excited to get a training contract but in one firm I was working for I had to push for everything. I wanted to be a partner and I was given several tasks to complete – I got through them in six months instead of the year that they had given me and then they changed the goalposts. The disparity between what the men and women were paid when you measured it against the amount of money they brought into the firm was so badly skewed in favour of men.

My experience has differed between firms – I later went to work for a woman-led firm and I was amazed at how refreshing it was, the managing partner understood what it was like being a working mum – she trusted me, and we had a really flexible relationship.

Do you think things are changing in the profession?

The way that you can practise the law has opened up – you don’t have to work in the traditional model of a law firm on the high street or for a massive global firm.

When I trained to be a lawyer, I wanted to practise the law – I didn’t want to be part of the process or part of a money-making machine.
I think it’s better to practise in the way that I do because you can give that personal service, you build relationships and you’re not tied to working to the clock or achieving a billable target for the day. You can spend time with your clients and then you provide them with a much better service because you can tune into them more as people.

I don’t know if the legal world is changing in favour of women, but I think if it isn’t it will have to, because there are much more flexible ways of working, for everyone, not necessarily just women. I think the really important thing is the kind of people you have at the top and if they’re willing to embrace change.

"My area of work is so interesting from a social history point of view, and from a people point of view."

Jenny Walker - Consultant Solicitor, Cognitive Law

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I love reading; I belong to a book club. I really like cooking and I’m re-designing our garden at home at the moment. I also volunteer with 5th Portsmouth Scout Group.

As an avid reader, have you got any favourite books?

Fiction-wise my favourite book is If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things by Jon McGregor, which I think captures the beauty of everyday life.

Non-fiction, I’m halfway through Atomic Habits by James Clear which is a good read as a business book.

Jenny Walker