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Shoreline Story: Jill Hastings, Legal Executive

Meet Jill Hastings, a Legal Executive in our Wills & Probate department at Barker Booth & Eastwood. Continue reading to hear more about her route into law and how she juggles life as a busy professional and mum…

Tell us a bit about you and your role at Barker Booth & Eastwood?

I’ve worked at Barker Booth & Eastwood now for 3 years. I am a fee earner in the Wills and Probate Department.

My caseload currently is a varied mix Wills, Probate, Lasting Power of Attorney, Court of Protection matters, Trusts and associated private client work. I see clients either in the office or at their home if they are unable to attend in the office for any reason. It is important to me that I see my clients face to face throughout the matter as I like to take a personable approach.  Whilst I am happy to have continued communication with clients via email, telephone calls or correspondence, I like to at least have an initial meeting to introduce myself and ensure that I can gather a fully rounded picture of that particular clients expectations, in order that I can manage those effectively as the matter progresses.

You have worked in the legal sector for some time, but how did you get into it? Did you always want to work in law?

I left school at 16 with 11 GCSE’s, however I didn’t want to go to college full time, I wanted to begin working immediately.   I did an NVQ in Customer Service and an NVQ in Travel and Tourism, whilst working at a local family run travel agents, which I completed in 12 months.  However once I completed the course, I realised the industry wasn’t for me.

I applied and was accepted for a job at the DWP and whilst I was going through the recruitment process, I covered a family member’s role as receptionist at a local law firm for 2 weeks. I enjoyed it so much and instantly bonded with my temporary employers to the extent that they asked me to stay.  I was offered a role as secretary/assistant to one of the partners working in Family Law. I absolutely loved this role.

During this time, my employers approached me about enrolling in the CILEx course to qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive.  My former employers very generously funded my course and I remained in the role for 12 years, alongside my studies, which I began in 2012 when my children were aged 2 and 3 years old. I took my final exams and Graduated as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2016.  Unfortunately the firm dissolved the year I qualified but I luckily managed to quickly find a role as a trainee at another local firm, whereby I finished my training period before further graduating as a Fellow in 2018.

I was approached by BBE in 2021 as I had been recommended for the role in the Wills and Probate Department.  I was aware of the impressive reputation of BBE, having worked in two local law firms in Blackpool for the past 17 years at this point.  From my initial meeting with the Directors, particularly Dawn Lamb who is head of the department I would be working in, I had a very positive feeling about working for the firm.  Dawn immediately made me feel at ease and I was excited to join the team.  We have a fantastic team in the ‘Civil Building’ where we work, which is just a couple of doors down from the main building, whereby Dawn and I work closely together, alongside our assistants who all play their important roles in making our department run smoothly.

We know that around 60% of adults in the UK don’t have a Will. What would be the one thing you would say to someone, to urge them to make a Will?

Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney, are things people don’t seem to think about until it’s too late. I think this is because they simply aren’t discussed enough in day to day life or as part of our education growing up.  Until you lose a family member, or if a family member loses capacity and you encounter all the associated difficulties in these situations, it is easy to overlook their necessity.  However having these instruments in place, whilst not taking away the emotional difficulties of these times, can at least help simplify the practical and financial difficulties.  They will ensure that if you were to pass away or no longer be able to make decisions yourself, you can rest assured that you have appointed the people you trust wholeheartedly to follow your wishes and your personal and financial affairs will not have to be dealt with in accordance with statutory rules and laws, which may not suit your circumstances at all.  It really is investing in your own future and your family’s future.

How do you juggle work and family as a busy professional?

With a full time job, two teenagers, two dogs, two cats and a goldfish (!) the juggle is real!

However I try to manage it by being 100% focused on my work during office hours and 100% focused on my family when I leave the office and not really letting the two intertwine! For me, this means I give the best version of myself to both the roles in my life, the lawyer and the homemaker! As I studied for my legal qualifications whilst my children were very young, juggling, organising and prioritising has been something I have had to manage for a long time now.

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