In this edition of Realm Talks To… Associate Consultant Lucy Wickham sat down with Gareth Long, Head of Family at JWP Solicitors.
During the interview, Gareth gave an insight into his career trajectory at the firm, explained why JWP is such a great place to work and revealed who he’d invite to his dream dinner party.
At what age did you decide the law was for you?
Around 14. I always had an interest in the law from an early age and still remember now doing work experience at a law firm whilst doing my GCSEs.
You’ve been at JWP Solicitors for nearly 20 years – could you explain a little about how your career has progressed during that time?
I joined JWP solicitors in the summer of 2003 as a fresh-faced solicitor having qualified less than a year earlier. I made the move as JWP gave me the opportunity to specialise in Family Law, which I realised I had a particular interest in whilst undertaking my training contract. Subsequently, I have never looked back, working at the firm’s Wakefield office for the last 19 years.
In my more junior years, there was always the support available that a less experienced solicitor needs, whilst solicitors were always pushed to have confidence in their abilities and to undertake advocacy work from an early stage. There is no better feeling as a young solicitor than having the confidence to undertake contested hearings, and getting a positive outcome for a client.
I was also always encouraged to develop my knowledge and skills in all areas of family law. This has led to me having confidence in dealing with all aspects of family law, including property disputes between unmarried couples (an area that many family solicitors seem to prefer to avoid!) These are things that the firm still very much encourages today.
The firm has always provided good opportunities for progression. I became head of the family department and partner in the firm in 2011, and I have never looked back.
What makes JWP Solicitors such a great place to work?
I think we strike a good balance of support for our team members on one hand, whilst allowing them the opportunity to get stuck in and learn on the job on the other. We have the experience and technical knowledge to help our team thrive and grow, and we can be flexible to ensure performance and commitment are rewarded with progression and growth. Our three newest Directors; Jo, Damien and Lois all worked their way up from within the business before being promoted to the board last year, which further demonstrates our commitment to personal development.
The firm seems to be in the midst of an exciting period of growth, having opened two new offices in the last 12 months – what does 2023 have in store for JWP?
2023 for us will be about further cementing our position in the West Yorkshire region. We’ll achieve this by enhancing the strength and depth of the team, expanding the range of services we offer, and continuing to make our services as easy to find and access as possible. We’ll also keep our eyes open for opportunities to open further offices across the region.
When recruiting for your team, what do you look for in a family lawyer?
As I alluded to above, we look for family lawyers who are, or want to be, specialist family lawyers. A lawyer does not need to be the finished article but should have a good work ethic, care about their work and clients, be prepared to challenge themselves and be willing to undertake advocacy including contested hearings, and want to progress in their career.
Which 3 people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
The tactful answer would be my wife and two children. If they were unavailable then I would love to have Peter Kay, John Grisham and Winston Churchill.
About Gareth Long
Gareth is a Director and the Head of the Family Department at JWP Solicitors. He joined the firm shortly after qualifying as a solicitor in 2003 and became a partner in 2011.
Gareth is an Accredited member of Resolution and deals with all areas of family law but is particularly skilful in dealing with complex financial matters following divorce or relationship breakdown between cohabiting couples. He has wide-ranging advocacy experience and deals with a variety of complex matters before the County and High Courts.