Insolvency and litigation are two of those words, in the English language, that send a cold shiver down most people’s spines when mentioned.
However, we believe our work is never more important than when it involves helping clients to deal with some of the trickiest situations they are likely to come across in their lives.
Which is why we’re delighted to welcome Rachel Atkinson onboard as our newest senior solicitor, with her caring approach to securing the best possible outcome for people experiencing such problems.
Rachel has specialised in this area of law for most of her career, spanning over a decade, dealing with many and complex cases for a number of East Yorkshire solicitors before deciding to join James Legal.
She explained what attracts her to this particular area of law: “I work with people enduring some of the hardest circumstances they’ll probably face,” said Rachel.
“When someone finds themselves in the middle of a dispute, it is almost always highly emotive and stressful, and, obviously, money issues are really, really hard to deal with – often made worse by the stigma attached to them.
“And it is that human side of things I enjoy most about dealing with such cases, the ability to make a real difference to people’s lives by walking alongside them through the darkest times of their lives, and helping to solve the problems they face to take as much pressure as possible off them.”
All about people
In fact, while lawyers who deal with such matters might commonly be considered quite hard-edged, Rachel says the opposite is true, and looking for compromise and exercising the human touch – to try to secure the best possible outcome – is vitally important.
“People often look on these situations (particularly insolvency) as things only involving corporate entities, but often, it’s people who are suffering and need that help to deal with their situation.
“In cases of insolvency, when we’re working with liquidators, their aim, too, is to reclaim monies for a company’s creditors who are trying to keep their business going, so it all comes back to people and mitigating the human cost.
“It’s very much that personal side that drives me and I try to take a different approach to securing the right outcome. I believe that, even when not nice things are happening, you can still deal with them in a friendly way, and, 9 times out of 10, achieve a better result by doing so.
“When it comes to litigation, it is often in everyone’s best interest to look for common ground and potential compromise before pursuing expensive legal action – although, of course, we are ready to fight a business or individual’s corner in court if that’s what it takes.”
She added: “The work is incredibly varied, too, and I love the fact I get to work alongside all manner of clients, from individuals to businesses, business owners to liquidators, administrators and trustees of bankruptcy estates. So, it’s a great mix of the corporate but, crucially, supporting individuals when they need it most, as well.”
So, what brought Rachel to James Legal?
“First and foremost, they reflect all the positive things I’ve just mentioned – they take a fresh approach to dealing with things, are absolutely committed to getting the best outcomes for clients… and, above all, they believe that people come first, and that human-centred approach is really evident.”
From a personal point of view, Rachel said she’s enjoyed a thoroughly warm welcome from everyone.
“Everyone’s been incredibly welcoming and it’s a great, upbeat environment to work in,” continued Rachel.
“I also love the firm’s genuine commitment to flexible working, many firms claim to offer this but few do to this level. As a mum with young children, being able to balance my career with being able to be there for my children is crucially important to me. I still pull out all the stops for our clients, but I’m supported in doing that in a way that works for me too.”
What can James Legal’s clients expect from Rachel?
“I try to be friendly, above all,” she explained, “and look at things in a calm way, because, often, people are in crisis when I first speak to them. It’s about trying to bring them down from their heightened state of stress, reassuring them and then showing them a positive path through their problems.
“Over the years, I’ve built up a lot of specialist understanding in the niche area of law surrounding insolvency, which means I’m hopefully well-placed to help clients, with a good knowledge of all the pros and cons.”
And when she’s not fighting the good fight?
“I’m fortunate to have a fairly contented life outside of work, living in a rural community which is a good antidote to the stresses and strains of the ‘day job’
“I love spending quality time with my husband and children. We have a collection of chickens and three dogs. We enjoy going for long walks in the countryside. It keeps me grounded, given the hugely stressful situations I tend to deal with at work!?’
And Rachel’s parting message?
“People burying their heads in the sand is something we see a lot, because, particularly insolvency, is difficult to deal with. There’s a bit of a social stigma attached to it and people can often be embarrassed about it.
“However, my advice would always be to face into the situation and seek expert advice from someone like me who knows the positives and pitfalls and will be able to help them think around the situation and find a way forward. We can’t wave a magic wand and make the problems go away, unfortunately, but we can always make them that bit less painful for all concerned and ensure that clients aren’t dealing with it all on their own.
“So I’d say ‘if in doubt, pick up the phone and have an initial conversation – you’ll always feel better for doing that.”