You know you are getting on a bit when you are asked to do a ‘life after…’ blog. In this case life after private practice and the continued relevance of the PLA. However, what I hadn’t bargained for was the answer that I got when I enquired how long I had been a member of the PLA and serving on the Law Reform Committee. The dreaded phrase ‘Before records began’!!
I believe it was 2001 that I joined the LRC which I chaired for about 8 years and I was overall chair in 2010/11. In that time I have been involved in numerous of law reform activities including the 1954 Act, forfeiture and the all-consuming Dilapidations Protocol. It has been a privilege to work with all the very knowledgeable lawyers on the LRC and bodies such as the DCLG, RICS and Civil Justice Council and to know that we really are providing a positive impact on the legal landscape.
So, what about the ‘life after’? I left private practice in June 2012 to be a full-time mediator and co-founded The Property Mediators in 2013. To my surprise I am still active in the PLA. Since 2012 I have continued on the LRC and on behalf of the PLA was chief author of the RICS Guidance Note on Mediation and now find myself part of a team with the PLA, RICS and Civil Justice Council looking to set up a bespoke mediation service for boundary disputes. It is a great thrill for me to still be able to use my experience to add to the mix.
One of the most important things for me now is to be able to draw on the excellent training events provided by the PLA. No longer having the big law firm back up makes this even more important to me as it enables me to keep up to date with the law and commercial developments in the property world which obviously are still important to my practice as a mediator.
But over the years – then and now – the best bit is the people and for me the social element. You hear people in all walks of life saying how much they hate ‘networking’. To me this has always been a pleasure. I have met so many wonderful people over the years, in and through the PLA, and I am so pleased to still be able to be a part of this. Obviously, it is a great way for me to keep in touch with people and ‘network’ but to my surprise I have also found myself acting as a ‘sounding board’. Again I see this as a privilege and am genuinely pleased to be able to help people in any way I can.
One of my proudest achievements is that in my year as Chair I set up the Junior PLA. This arose from a lot of younger members commenting that us ‘oldies’ all seemed to know each other, and they would like to have something similar. This joint initiative with the junior Property Bar and Matrics has gone from strength to strength and is now a well-established part of the PLA. I was delighted to be invited to their event last week on the Frances case which was excellent.
When I left private practice I was waiting for (and dreading) the phone call to be told that I could no longer be a member of the PLA – thankfully it never came. I would have definitely felt a huge gap in my professional life if it had. The organisation has evolved over the years and I for one welcome its wider inclusion eg of mediators and the new academic members. However the core elements haven’t changed of encouraging best practice, high standards, professional and courteous interaction of members (even when against each other in litigation) and an amazing social network. On that last note – I look forward to seeing you all at the bar in Oxford in March!