Shirley Hall is senior office partner at the Newcastle office of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP. She talks to BQ about her career so far, her day-to-day role and her plans for the future of the business.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words.
The role has many facets to it. As senior office partner, I have to manage the Newcastle office in terms of staff, resources and clients. I am, however, primarily an employment lawyer by profession and lead the employment team in Newcastle. This part of my role involves providing specialist employment law advice to a wide range of international, national and regional business clients, covering all aspects of employment law. These employment law matters can involve complex equal pay/discrimination issues, grievance and discipline advice, transfers of employees following mergers acquisitions or outsourcing, global project management right through to litigation in the employment tribunal.
What is it the company does?
We are a global law firm.
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I qualified as a lawyer in March 1997 whilst employed with Northumberland County Council. In January 2000 I joined what was then Eversheds as an assistant solicitor, was promoted to associate in 2001 and made partner in 2006. I took up the role as head of the Newcastle employment team in March 2013 and the Newcastle Office senior partner role in March 2017.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
Hard work, commitment and above all else trust in and respect for colleagues. A great leader needs a great team.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
Balancing the various elements of my role. The lawyer element of the role involves travelling around the country to provide advice to clients which can sometimes make it difficult to maintain sufficient presence in Newcastle to ensure appropriate regional support to staff and clients.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
I like to go for walks and swim to give me some relaxation time and headroom to think.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sadly, I always wanted to be a lawyer but if that didn't work out my alternative was to be a dress designer as I used to make a lot of my own outfits when I was younger.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Disrespectful behaviour of any form and particularly people who are rude to colleagues. I would usually try and deal with such issues promptly and as tactfully as possible.
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
We have expanded our global reach significantly in the last five years with our US combination and our expansion in Europe, Asia and the Middle East. I see our strategic global growth continuing in the next five years following on from our recent additions of our Singapore, Brunei Darussalam and Russian offices. This enables us to be locally based but globally connected and able to offer high quality legal advice to regional, national and international businesses alike.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Talk to people regularly. In my view effective communications is key to learning from your clients, contacts and colleagues and applying the knowledge gained from those discussions to your strategic plans for the business. This enables businesses to be remain fresh and respond to changing needs.