Rachel Jane Roche
Based in York, North Yorkshire, England
Hi Rachel, can you describe Roche Legal?
We are private client solicitors, currently based in York and Harrogate. We deal with Wills, Probate, Inheritance Disputes, Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection. There are 3 solicitors and 2 support staff.
What work do you perform in your organisation?
Wills, Probate, Inheritance Disputes, Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection.
What is your educational background?
1995-1999 – Lucton Independent School – GCSEs
1999-2001 – Hereford Sixth Form College – A Levels
2001-2007 – Worcester College of Technology – ILEX
2007-2009 – University of the West of England – LPC
2012-2013 – Université Panthéon Sorbonne – Masters in French & European Law assisted by the HM Law Scholarship. I kept a blog during my time there: http://keepingupwithrachel.webs.com/
As you can see, I qualified initially as a Legal Executive before converting to a Solicitor. All the while, working in private practice.
When did you qualify?
Qualified as a Legal Executive in 2007 and as a Solicitor in 2009.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The strategic planning and improving our processes and procedures, especially seeing the business growing and developing and training staff.
Describe your typical day? Wake up and bedtime times?
Wake up at 6 am, get a coffee, catch up on some emails, sometimes I’ll go the gym and/or take my dog Molly for a walk. Get to work for about 9.30 am with Molly. I’ll usually have various meetings – some client, some business development. Occasionally, I will go and visit clients at their home, especially if they are elderly or unwell. I can finish work anytime between 5 pm and 9 pm weekdays. Sometimes I’ll be at my laptop at home until late depending on what we’ve got on and how much energy I have left!
What is the hardest part of your job?
In a nutshell, fielding emails! Juggling all the demands, not just from clients, but from the business development perspective, such as proof reading written materials, emails and ‘to-do’s’ on the accounting side, setting up and managing IT, processes and procedures, dealing with third party contractors (e.g. website manager), networking etc. Although I am getting better at delegating and this should become easier now we have two new starters, another solicitor and paralegal both of whom joined us in January this year.
What would your clients say about you?
I think the majority of clients would say that I am sympathetic, efficient and personable.
And what would your competitors say about you?
A young whippersnapper who’s not bad on social media and her firms is growing so she must be doing something right.
What have you found to be the greatest myth about being a lawyer?
The glamour – I blame Ally McBeal and all the other similar 90’s dramas. I also don’t often go to Court which I think surprises people.
What advice would you give to your pre-law school self?
Stop worrying so much.
What’s the longest day you’ve ever done?
I remember being up until gone 3 am in the early days finishing my STEP dissertation after a long day out seeing clients on the road. This was before I moved to office premises and employed anyone. I was working from home at the time and there were some very long days.
What case do you find most memorable in your jurisdiction? Why do you think that is?
If you’re talking about cases in general, the first one that springs to mind is Carlill v Carbolic Smoke Ball Company – perhaps also because there is a lawyer gift company called this too and they have some fairly amusing gifts: http://www.carbolicsmokeball.com/
Do you have any advice for lawyers just starting out?
Get as much experience as you can whilst still at school and college to make sure it’s what you want to do – and be open to other routes to qualification such as ILEX (like me).
Do you do any volunteering/pro bono work etc?
We occasionally take on matters on a pro bono basis, usually for groups or organisations. We also participate in Will schemes for Will Aid and Alzheimer’s Society.
What has been your best day in the job?
I am sure there have been lots of really good days; one that springs to mind is when Melanie (who joined me in the early days whilst we were still working from my home office) qualified as a solicitor in October 2017. This was a great achievement for her, but it was also a great moment for me as I was able to offer her the training contract that lead to her qualification. It was also very exciting when we moved into our current office premises in July 2016, having been able to design this internally to our own specifications.
What do you consider to be the secret to your success?
I am not sure I would define myself as successful (yet!), but I think it is really important to try to keep a positive outlook on things and especially important to make staff feel valued.
Have you always wanted to be a lawyer?
I must have been about 15 or 16 when I decided I wanted to be a lawyer. To this day, I am not sure where I got the idea from, but in the back of my mind it could have something to do with a movie starring Harrison Ford but I have no idea which one!
What would you say is the best tool you have at your disposal?
Technology – this gives even the smallest firm like ours the ability to compete with larger more established firms. We are also able to be nimble because we are small and implement change quickly when needed.
Which key skill is most essential for your success as a lawyer?
The ability to listen to clients, empathise with them, and to break down and separate the relevant facts from the emotion.
Which experiences have been most significant in forming you as a lawyer?
Whilst still unqualified, a client who was fairly difficult to manage came in and I was tasked to deal with the matter. It was a tricky situation and the client was very overbearing, but, having dealt with the situation, the stoic receptionist commented that I handled it very well which, coming from her, was a huge compliment!
Who is the lawyer you most admire and why?
Since moving to Yorkshire, I have become aware of solicitor Marilyn Stowe who is local and who occasionally appears on the BBC for comment about the law. I’d like to do that too.
What makes a brilliant lawyer?
What would you say is your greatest achievement?
I’m proud of myself that I was given the opportunity via the HM Hubbard Law Scholarship to study in Paris. This was a lifelong achievement, having spent 6 months in France when I was 11 years old on a French exchange, I had always wanted to return to make something of that early experience, which came at huge cost at the time, financially and emotionally, to my parents.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I’d like to still be running Roche Legal, but with more people and another staffed office. I’d also like to have properly taken the practice ‘online’, offering our full services to clients throughout the UK and beyond using the internet with no need for face-to-face appointments unless these are at the client’s request.
What is your morning routine?
Get up at around 6 am, sometimes I go to the gym or take Molly to the walk, have breakfast and a coffee, have a shower, catch up on some emails – get to work for about 9.30 am.
What is your bedtime routine?
I try to get an early night now and then, but tend to find I go to bed at around 11 am which is quite late for me as I need a good 8 hours’ sleep! I’m usually pottering around on my laptop doing work stuff and replying to emails until then. The TV can be on in the background but is often on mute and I don’t watch anything in particular.
What do you do to keep healthy? What are your habits regarding exercise and nutrition?
I think my eating habits aren’t too bad, but I could do better to eat at more regular intervals! It is also not unheard of that I will have chocolate for lunch, especially if there is no time to pop out and someone has put treats in the biscuit tin…
Rachel walking her dog, Molly
If you weren’t a lawyer what would you be?
Probably a psychologist. I really enjoyed my A-Level in psychology and find the whole topic incredibly interesting and diverse. I did law, psychology and French at A-Level. I think there is quite a bit of psychology in running a business and dealing with people and so much of what I have learnt has come in handy e.g. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
What do you believe that nobody else believes?
I think other people also believe this, but I believe that anyone can do or be anything they want to be with a gut load of determination and hard work. I also think you make your own opportunities.
Is there a quote which defines you?
‘Believe in yourself’ – this can of course be hard at times, but it’s nice to tell myself this when I get bogged down. I often find myself telling friends this too. I also like ‘Organisation is the Key’ and have this quote on the wall in my office.
Which book have you found most influential?
I had a business coach a while ago and she gave me the book ‘One Minute Manager’ which I actually read and which I thought was good. I’ve bought many books on business, such as the E-Myth and Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, but am useless at reading them. I did really enjoy Michelle Mone’s autobiography a couple of years ago (as well as the autobiographies of a couple of other female entrepreneurs). Particularly in Michelle Mone’s, there is a lot in there about the personal sacrifices that have to be made and hard work that has to be done to get a business off the ground. I also got the opportunity to meet Michelle Mone in person earlier in 2017.
Who do you admire most and why?
I like a good woman entrepreneur, such a Michelle Mone and Karren Brady.
What 3 things would you take with you on a desert island?
Lip balm, a cosy blanket and a pen knife.
How do you think practising law has changed you as a person?
I think I can approach things in my personal life sometimes too much like a lawyer. It’s also made me strangely addicted to lists, tasks and key dates.
If money was no object, how would you spend your time? And would you still be a lawyer?
Yes, I would still be a lawyer as I love running my own firm. If money was no object, I would invest in and expand Roche Legal faster – without a doubt.
What is the step/change you are most glad you’ve taken in life?
Although I found it tough at the time, going to Paris to study for my Master’s Degree gave me a huge amount of confidence in retrospect. Just what I needed to set up on my own when I returned to the UK. It also gave me a sense of perspective that I didn’t have, having worked as an employee in firms for so long.
What is the most beautiful/inspiring thing you’ve ever seen?
My cash flow summary heading in the right direction! Haha!
What does a lawyer represent to you as a concept?
These days, problem solver, task delegator, organiser, accounts department, management, business development. At the core though, someone who guides their clients in the right direction.
How do you balance home and family life with your job?
I’m very fortunate to live a 4-minute commute from the office and I don’t have any children. I do have to tend to my 2 cats and dog Molly, but being so close to home means I can pick and drop off Molly during the day (she comes to work most days), and also stay late or come in at weekends if I need to, without commuting time eating into my day.
What is the best lawyer joke you’ve heard?
A lawyer dies and goes to heaven.
“There must be some mistake,” the lawyer argues. “I’m too young to die. I’m only fifty five!”
“Fifty five?” says Saint Peter. “No, according to our calculations, you’re eighty two.”
“How’d you get that?” the lawyer asks.
St. Peter says, “We added up your time sheets.”
Thank you very much for your time, Rachel.
To find out more about Rachel and her work, visit the Roche Legal website.