Welcome to Harper James: Meet senior employment solicitor Sally Gwilliam

19 November 2021 | Welcome to Harper James

Welcome to Harper James is a series of interviews showcasing the talent of our solicitors who have recently joined us, in which we get to know more about them, including finding out about their careers and what they think of life at Harper James so far. 

This week we caught up with Sally Gwilliam – a senior employment solicitor, avid-traveller, and mother. Sally joined the employment team in August 2021 after working at a variety of law firms, including DLA Piper where she qualified in 2004. 

Welcome to Harper James: Meet senior employment solicitor Sally Gwilliam

‘I went to university in Leeds, then College of Law in York – travelled for about a year and then started my training contract at DLA Piper’ Sally said. ‘I did a law degree because it’s a good degree to have though I wasn’t sure whether I’d be a solicitor – but I actually really enjoyed a lot of electives we studied at university and after exploring the more practical side of employment law I thought this is exactly what I want to do!’.

Sally has gained her breadth of expertise in employment law from her time working at DLA Piper to working at start up businesses before joining Harper James. 

‘It was brilliant to work for such a well-regarded law firm, though a key moment of my career was leaving DLA,’ says Sally. ‘I went from working at a global organisation to being part of a smaller business where there were just five of us, which was a big shift for me. The business was a start up too, so it’s a perfect fit for me at Harper James, working closely with start ups and helping businesses grow and scale. Not only have I supported these types of SMEs, but I’ve worked for one and understand the challenges our clients face. 

‘Another reason I left DLA was that I had two young children and needed a greater work-life balance. This is also one of the reasons I joined Harper James where the working model is very flexible.’

As an employment solicitor and a mother, Sally understands the importance of flexible working and how the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the issues to the forefront for many employees and businesses. 

Commenting on the recent trend, Sally explains that ‘Topics surrounding Covid have dominated employment law. Communication has had to be prioritised because people aren’t working in the office. It’ll be interesting to see how things will change in the short term and whether employers will continue with remote and hybrid working. I do think there’s going to be a real mix.’

Sally’s areas of expertise include employment litigation and employment tribunals, though she stresses the importance of being a generalist in employment law. 

‘Litigation is a strength of mine, but many of us are generalists in our field and I do enjoy getting involved in everything.’ Sally explains ‘We are a busy team and the firm is expanding rapidly so we’re supporting businesses with all of their employment needs, which has helped me settle in very quickly.’

Alongside her career, Sally is also a mother to two children and works remotely from her home office.

‘Harper James has been lovely so far! Everyone has been really supportive and the flexibility is great.

‘I joined the firm because I wanted a change and the ambition of the firm and the mantra of putting clients first aligns with my values.’

Outside of work, Sally enjoys spending time with her husband and two children and has ambitions of travelling again soon with her family and taking up new hobbies.

‘I would love to go to South Africa and Australia to take my daughter scuba diving in the Great Barrier Reef,’ she continued. ‘I’d also really like to learn to paint properly!’

Sally advises clients in a range of issues including contracts of employment, consultancy agreements, bonus and commission schemes, restructures and redundancies, changing terms and conditions, settlement agreements, and much more. Contact Sally to see how she can help you and your business. 

If you are looking for career opportunities with Harper James, visit our careers page to find out more.

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