Browns Solicitors

What’s your business called?

Browns Solicitors

Can you describe it in one sentence?

We are a law firm with traditional values and a modern outlook aiming to provide excellent legal services to the local community in a friendly, approachable and empathetic way

When did you start it and what inspired you?

I started the business in January in 2015 with my business partner.
I previously worked for a law firm 10 minutes from home for 25 hours a week. This worked around pre school and then school. When the partners said they were closing the branch I worked at and stopping practicing in my areas of law I had to decide whether to look for another job which would unlikely have the same flexibility or be as local or bite the bullet and start my own firm with a colleague

How did you find your start up?

This was challenging – it took 6 months because of all the rules and regulations of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. There were many late nights as we were working in the days. Lots of people let us down but these challenges helped to build s good relationship for a business partnership

How do you manage working around your children?

Holidays are actually much easier for me as I’m lucky that my parents look after my daughter. I drop her off in her pyjamas in the morning and pick her up fed and bathed in the evening
School time is a balancing act, school assemblies and coffee mornings to try and attend, getting homework done and making arrangements when my daughter wakes with an illness.

Can you describe a typical day?

I’m woken up by my 5 year old daughter around 645am and enjoy a cup of tea in bed watching Miffy or Milkshake before the mad morning rush! My husband sorts himself out and leaves by 7.15. Then it’s showering and getting dressed, repeating myself at least 4 times ‘please put your uniform on’ ‘don’t forget your vest’ ‘your socks are inside out’ ‘come on we are going to be late’ ‘sorry, I didn’t mean to pull your hair’ ‘no I’ve not got time for a French plait today it’ll have to bunches again’.
The book bag gets sorted out, water bottle filled, any letters due back to school signed, breakfast made an eaten and out the door by 8.20. Sometimes we get 10 meters from the house then turn around because ‘I need a wee mummy’, ‘no I didn’t need one before [when you asked me two minutes ago].’ We walk the 10 minute walk to school and then I walk on another 10 minutes to the office.
I spend my day seeing clients, answering post and preparing documents. I specialise in wills and probate and family law. I have a lot of empathy for my clients trying to work out how to separate and make their children a priority because of being a working mum. I hope to help them find practical solutions rather than arguing and trying to ‘win’ something from their former partner or spouse.
As company director I also have all the financial elements of the business to manage. There are lots of rules and regulations for solicitors practices in relation to finances and this takes up at least an hour or two of my day.
If the mobile rings I automatically panic it is the school phoning Lunch is a quick sandwich or sandwhich at my desk.
2.30 I head back home in as fast a walk I can in court shoes. Grab the car and drive to school to collect my daughter. Once she’s been back in and out of the classroom a few times due to missing a cardigan or to get a new reading book we then drive back to the office. We could walk but the moaning 5 year old at 5pm walking home isn’t worth it!
My daughter colours, drawers, watch DVDs and yes sometimes plays games on my phone whilst in the office. Thankfully she’s still too young to realise the games are teaching times tables and the like! She has her own little desk and drawers. Generally she is fine but as with all children after school I know she really wants to let off steam and this does make me feel guilty.
I try to avoid speaking to clients in that last 90 minutes of the day. Either the discussions are not really appropriate for a 5 year old’s ears or I get interrupted for a toilet break.
Back home at 5 and have to get the dinner done and bath for a 7pm bed time. School reading gets done then bed time story and a few hours for me to watch some rubbish tv and answer some emails before bed!

What have you found hardest?

It was a weekend in the middle of doing lots of late nights preparing for the new business. I was playing ‘houses’ with my daughter (then 4) and she wanted to be the mummy and said ‘right you stay there darling mummy just has to go to a meeting I’ll be back to tuck you into bed’.
Still now I hear myself say ‘just let mummy do this email.’ etc and wish I could just give her my full attention more often.

What’s the best thing about being self employed?

Being able to be at a school event because I need no one else’s permission

What are your plans for the future?

We are training our junior staff to hopefully join the company as directors. I would love to be able to have employees to manage so I can enjoy holidays with my family and get a chance to switch off.

What advice would you give for someone just starting out?

Be realistic about what you are likely to earn and how many hours you will put in. You will work less than the minimum wage. You won’t feel you can take time off as much as you thought you would as that means no money is coming in. Be prepared for this and try and give yourself a few hours a week at least to switch off and relax.

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