“I’ve lived around Tunbridge Wells area all my life and went to school in the town,” says Sarah. “Even when I was a youngster, I recognised that CooperBurnett had a good reputation and, while I trained and qualified with a firm in East Sussex, I always wanted to eventually join the firm.”
Sarah took the initiative of writing a letter which, she says, arrived at the ‘right time’.
“It felt like I’d made the correct decision from the minute I walked in the door,” she says.
The idea of law as a career came to Sarah around the time she was selecting her A levels.
“I realised that I wanted to study law at university, so chose ‘essay writing’ subjects, including history and English,” she explains. “Law appealed, as it’s fairly technical and, for me, intellectually appealing. I still enjoy that aspect of it.”
Sarah studied for a straight law degree but then had little ‘wobble’ and decided she wanted to take a break before going to law school.
“It wasn’t that I had lost interest in law but I simply wanted some time away from studying,” she explains. “I took a year out to travel and temp and refocus a little. At the end of that time, I was absolutely clear that I still wanted to be a lawyer, so went to law school in Nottingham for my LPC [Legal Practice Course].”
During a year spent as a paralegal, Sarah assisted a Private Client team, which she enjoyed and then, after qualifying was offered roles in both Residential Property and Private Client and opted for the latter.
“I really enjoy the client-facing aspect of Private Client work,” says Sarah. “You get so involved with their lives and find out about them and their family. When it comes to aspects of my work, such as Probate, it’s good to feel that you are taking some of the burden of a bereavement from their shoulders.”
At CooperBurnett, Sarah assists clients with the preparation of Wills and advises on Inheritance Tax, including supporting executors. She also advises and assists clients in relation to Lasting Powers of Attorney and deals with making applications to the Court of Protection, where a relative has lost the capacity to manage their own affairs.
Recently, though, her role has expanded to include more technical Wills for business owners.
“It’s interesting to support clients who are writing Wills which reflect succession planning and shareholders’ agreements,” Sarah explains. “This involves working in conjunction with our corporate team here at CooperBurnett and sometimes with the client’s accountants as well.”
Sarah says that CooperBurnett is, in many ways, the perfect size.
“We are big enough to have some really good quality clients and, yet, small enough to still give a bespoke and tailored service,” she explains. “Clients will always speak to somebody who knows them, which is lovely. If anything, working from home during these Covid times has made us even more responsive. It’s good though to have recently started to see clients face-to-face again, if they feel comfortable to do so.”
During the first lockdown, the Private Client team adapted to the need to have two witnesses signing Wills, with meetings on driveways to setting up a table in the CooperBurnett car park.
In her spare time, Sarah enjoys getting out for walks with her young family and black Labrador Rosie.
“We moved into the countryside just before lockdown, so have certainly been out exploring on foot a lot more than we have before,” she says. “Recently I’ve been upping the distances, as I’m part of the CooperBurnett team taking part in a walking marathon as part of the Walk Tonbridge Festival.”
In addition, Sarah is working towards her STEP qualification. STEP is the global professional association for practitioners who specialise in family inheritance and succession planning. STEP members help families plan for their futures from advising on issues concerning protection of the vulnerable to family businesses and philanthropic giving.