In the latest in our series, My Life in Law, we speak to Associate Partner, Jonny Scholes, who has been with the firm since its inception on Valentine’s Day 2014, having worked at the previous incarnation of Pannone, joining as a paralegal in 2005. Having risen through the ranks to become a key member of the dispute resolution team, Jonny talks about his love affair with Pannone Corporate, the ‘speed date’ with partners which made him realise the firm was the one, his long-held ambition to be a professional rugby player, and his side-line in writing children’s picture books!

Tell us a little bit about when you joined Pannone Corporate?

I moved across as part of the management buy-out of the old Pannone LLP (with the remaining team joining Slater & Gordon). I started at the old Pannone as a paralegal for eight months or so in 2005. I’d been offered a training contract and arranged to do some work whilst I was waiting for it to begin. I started life in the travel team in personal injury, dealing with bulk claims involving sickness bugs abroad! I then had a few months off when I travelled across the West and East coasts of America with my brother, before starting my training contract in September 2006.

What did you do before joining?

My only other jobs before working at Pannone were working in my local pub – The Crown in Heaton Mersey – and working as a theatre porter at the Alexander Hospital in Cheadle. I enjoyed both jobs and they gave me some useful transferable skills, particularly in dealing with people, including some who could be a little nervous or wary and others who were a little more difficult! I also did a vacation scheme placement at the old Pannone too.

What’s your role at Pannone?

I’m currently an Associate Partner, having worked my way up through the ranks from my trainee days. I’m in the dispute resolution team and deal with general commercial litigation disputes, with a particular specialism in contentious trust and probate matters.

What drew you to Pannone?

I applied for a training contract with six Manchester firms. Pannone was one of them and stood out as being a full-service law firm, which was good for me as I didn’t know which area of law I wanted to specialise in at that time. In the end, it was the feel of the firm and the people that really attracted me. Pannone was the first of my second interviews for a training contract (a kind of ‘speed date the partners’ over lunch event, which sounds horrendous, but wasn’t too bad!) and I was offered a training contract.  I said I wanted to do a few more interviews before deciding, but after an assessment centre at a large Manchester firm, where it was clear to me the people weren’t as in tune with me as those at Pannone, I came outside, rang Pannone to accept their offer and cancelled my other interviews. I’m pleased to say it’s still the people that make the firm to this day.

What route did you go down, in terms of training and qualifications?

After my A-levels in English Literature, History and Politics, I didn’t want to do any of those as a degree on their own, so I opted for law, which encompassed elements of them all. However, I wasn’t actually planning on going into law as a profession at that time! I did my law degree at Oxford and then had a year out, where I was supposed to be playing rugby in France. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out due to a knee injury. In the end, I went back to Oxford and did a Masters in Criminology – in part to bide me some time to decide what I wanted to do for a career and also to try and get a rugby union blue (but an early season arm break put paid to that!). I applied for training contracts whilst doing my Masters and was offered one at Pannone just before I started my LPC back up in Manchester at Manchester Met. After that I did a stint as a paralegal at Pannone and then began my training contract.

Why did you choose this route?

I guess it was a case of finding my way as I went along. It just took me a bit of time to decide that being a solicitor was a decent fit for me. All in all, the slightly longer approach into the profession has probably made me more well-rounded. 

What’s the most satisfying aspect of your job?

I enjoy working with people and particularly the people at Pannone. It’s nice to see more junior fee earners progress and grow in confidence. In a more, pure work capacity, I’m lucky that my contentious probate cases often give me an opportunity to make a real tangible difference to people’s lives, often in very sad or distressing circumstances for them. That can be very rewarding.

What does a typical day look like?

A typical day can often be hectic and is often changeable! My ‘to do’ list alters three or four times a day, most days. I’ll try and get some smaller jobs out of the way first thing and may need to set some time aside for a chunkier piece of work such as drafting a long letter of claim, or preparing instructions to counsel. There’ll normally be an element of supervision in there too: reviewing work done by junior lawyers in the team. Some of my time will be spent on business development issues and no doubt I’ll have a few phone calls and multiple emails in the day as well. Perhaps less frequently I may have a client meeting, conference with counsel, a mediation or even a court hearing and, if I’m lucky, the odd client lunch as well!

What are your career ambitions?

I’ve always had the philosophy of just getting my head down, working hard, and trying to be a good employee to have in the firm! By doing that I’ve always trusted that I would be rewarded at the right time with progression. Thankfully that’s tended to be the case and I’ve progressed each time I’ve felt ready to. Where I’m at now is a good place to be and if I keep on progressing as I am, then one day I’d hope to join the partnership.

If you were managing partner for the day, what’s the first thing you would do? 

I’d look to set up some kind of fun team building event. Being from a sporting background (rugby), I think building team spirit is essential to a positive and productive environment and building relationships within the workplace only leads to a better culture and then better service delivery. I’d also allow everyone a Friday afternoon in the sun at Dukes (the pub) – also important for team building!

What would you be doing if you didn’t have a career in law? 

If you’d asked me this when I was younger I’d have said a professional rugby player, but now with three children of my own, it would probably be some form of teaching, or writing children’s books! As it is, I’m limited to coaching the ‘Tiny Tacklers’ at my local rugby club, Burnage, on Sunday mornings in the rugby season.

What can lawyers / the legal profession do to better support clients? Does anything need to change?

The one thing I’ve learned to improve on over time, which I know clients appreciate, is the provision of information. Clients just want to know where things are up to and to be kept informed and updated. Clearly there will be times when you’re busy and you take longer to return pieces of work to clients. I’ll regularly try to send a few short emails at the end of a day if my timescales have slipped to let the client know. They’re generally okay with that and are grateful to be kept informed rather than having to chase. I think this is an area of client service a lot of solicitors can improve on.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing?

I lead a busy life with my wife Karen and our three children: Tessa (10), Tilly (7) and Toby (4). I love spending time with them and they’re a lot of fun, but it’s non-stop running around after them! Aside from that, spending time with our friends is also important to me, as is exercise. I’ve just finished playing rugby regularly with my club’s third team and am getting into CrossFit, cycling, and dabbling at golf! If you know anyone who could clone me to free up some more time to do all the above that’d be good!

Do you have any particular skills/talents that your work colleagues may not know about?

I read a good bedtime story… and have also written a few children’s picture book texts over the years as a bit of a hobby, some examples being: ‘Nacho Newt and his Parachute’, ‘Flamingo Joe’, ‘The Gnome that Left Home’ and ‘When a Fisherman Caught an Astronaut’! I’ve not written any for a while though, so maybe I need to get back into it! Then I just need to find a good illustrator to bring them to life!

Where do you live?

I live in Heaton Chapel in South Manchester near Stockport. There are quite a few from the office who live in the Heatons and it’s a great place to live – only 10 minutes on the train to Manchester, close to the airport, lots of bars and restaurants, the Savoy cinema, my rugby club and a great community spirit!

 

 

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Here at Pannone Corporate, we have specialist experience in the setting up and management of trusts. A trust is, broadly speaking, an arrangement which splits legal ownership from economic benefit. This allows you to choose people you would like to legally own your assets (the Trustees) to make decisions and manage assets for the benefit of the Beneficiaries (the people entitled to benefit). This can be useful for tax planning purposes or for protecting young or vulnerable beneficiaries who are not well equipped to manage their own assets. Trusts also provide flexibility so that Trustees can take account of the Beneficiaries’ circumstances as they develop and decide when and how they should benefit.

 

Separating economic ownership and control is often helpful in ensuring that assets are passed to the intended people in the right way and in allowing businesses to continue to operate post the death of a majority shareholder.

 

Why Set Up a Trust?

Trusts are often used in wills to protect young or vulnerable beneficiaries or those at risk of financial difficulties or divorce in the future. The Trustees have flexibility as to the timing and manner of distributions which allows them to stagger payments to Beneficiaries and bring the trust to an end as and when control is no longer required.

 

Shares in private companies are often put into trust either as a form of Inheritance Tax Planning ( by way of a trust set up during the shareholder’s lifetime) or by will where a shareholder wishes to choose who makes decisions regarding the business and who benefits from dividends or sale proceeds. For example, where a shareholder has several children but one or two of them work in the business and the others do not, he may appoint the children who are involved in the business as trustees (and directors) whilst still ensuring that the other children benefit from the profits of the business.

 

The Role of the Trustee

Trustees are under strict duties to look after the assets under their control for the benefit of their beneficiaries so it is vital to choose your Trustees carefully as these are the people who will decide how and when funds are released from the trust. Acting as a trustee should not be undertaken lightly.  We have significant experience advising trustees of their duties and preventing/solving disputes between trustees and beneficiaries. Trustees can be family members or trusted friends or advisers and can include the Beneficiaries themselves. Trustees have to act unanimously (unless the trust deed states otherwise) so it is important to appoint people who are able to work together efficiently.

 

Tax Implications

Trusts have significant tax implications (both Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax) which need to be carefully considered prior to them being established. There is no “one size fits all” structure and advice is required in each circumstance to establish how a trust arrangement suits your family circumstances and is likely to be cost-effective in the long run. Different forms of trust are taxed in different ways. Tax is an important consideration in deciding whether and how to establish a trust and what the pros and cons of the trust will be now and in the future.

Type of Trust

There are various different types of Trust. Some trusts are discretionary which means that the Trustees have complete discretion as to the timing and manner of distributions amongst a class of beneficiaries. A Trust can also be a Life Interest Trust which means that one person is entitled to the income from the Trust during his or her lifetime with capital automatically passing to certain Beneficiaries on the death of the life tenant. This is commonly used to provide for spouses in wills, ensuring that any assets not required by a surviving spouse pass to your children on death and cannot be diverted to any future partner or children of a spouse. Bare trusts are another form of trust in which the Beneficiary is treated as owning the assets themselves and can call for them to be transferred into his or her name once he or she attains the age of 18. Specialist trusts also exist for the protection and maintenance of disabled beneficiaries.

 

Pannone Corporate Can Help

Trusts can either be set up by will or during the lifetime of the individual. We consider each client’s circumstances and objectives carefully and set out the pros and cons of any Trust structure for the future. We guide clients through the process of deciding whether a Trust is likely to be appropriate for their family or business.

For more information, contact our team either by one of the methods listed here or by calling 0800 131 3355.

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