In the latest in our My Life in Law series, we speak to Paralegal, Humera Patel. Humera joined the firm in September 2021 having cut her teeth in the legal industry at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and Forbes Solicitors, where she assisted on a variety of corporate matters.

We hear all about her typical day, career goals and balancing a love of keeping fit with a love of eating out!

Tell us a little about your role at Pannone?

I work as part of the Corporate Services team and assist by drafting, negotiating and reviewing legal documents during corporate transactions.

I have been lucky enough to get involved with a wide range of work – from mergers and acquisitions to company re-organisations, investments and company secretarial work. The list just keeps getting longer, but it’s brilliant to get an insight into the full spectrum of services we offer.

Why did you join Pannone?

Pannone is one the best known innovative and collaborative law firms in the North. I was initially attracted to the firm due to its high calibre of clients, but from my first interview I knew Pannone was the right place for me.

The people and the culture of the firm really enhanced my belief that it would be a positive and inspirational place to work and, having now worked here for over a year, I can confirm my assumptions were correct!

The approachability of the senior members of the firm fosters a collaborative and supportive environment which makes a huge difference.

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

I went down the traditional route: I studied law at the University of Central Lancashire, before undertaking the Legal Practice Course at University of Law.

My aspiration of pursuing a career in commercial law stems from my interest in both business and law – the synergies between these two fields are constantly growing and encompasses various aspects. I was always intrigued with the complexities of the legal system and how legislation constantly evolves, knowing that my job would never be a boring one!

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job?

Completing a transaction and meeting the clients expectations – definitely. After all the hard work, it’s exciting to get a deal over the line.

What does a typical day look like?

Very busy! I start my day with checking my emails and going through the day’s tasks. I then attend the corporate team catchup meeting where we discuss our workload and capacity.

I always try to deal with the smaller tasks first thing so that I can focus on the larger tasks throughout the day. The smaller jobs usually involve drafting ancillary documentation, data room management, and responding to internal and external emails.

The larger tasks comprise drafting key legal documents such as SPAs, Disclosure letters and Shareholders Agreements.  In between drafting and responding to emails, I normally attend calls with clients and/or other side solicitors to negotiate and discuss legal documents.

Although the processes remain generally the same, the breadth of clients means that each day is very different and things can often crop up unexpectedly, so it pays to be prepared!

What are your career ambitions?

My immediate goals are to work hard and continue to grow my skillset and knowledge of corporate law. In the future, I aspire to train as a solicitor, build an impressive client portfolio and follow in the footsteps of the partners in the corporate team.

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

Give everyone a day off! On a serious note, I would organise a firm-wide social to get to know everyone in the firm better – the power of strong colleague relationships can’t be underestimated.

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

I would have become a primary school teacher; I really enjoy spending time with kids and seeing them develop. Not to mention the holiday perks!

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

In my spare time, I enjoy going on long walks and to the gym to keep fit and healthy, this helps me to maintain a healthy work life balance.

I also enjoy socialising with my friends and eating together. I’m a total a foodie; I love trying a variety of different foods from different cuisines. I’d say my favourite is Italian –  I could eat pizza and pasta all day, every day!

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James Harris joined Pannone in April 2022, having worked as a real estate partner at Knights plc and, prior to that, managing partner at Jolliffe and Co LLP.

As someone who knew from an early age that he wanted to go into law, James chose the traditional route into the profession to reach his goal, before eventually finding a home in real estate, where he specialises in residential and commercial property development, as well as licensing for restaurants and public houses. We caught up with James three months on from joining the firm, to find out more about the real estate partner and Ironman competitor!

What attracted you to Pannone?

Pannone is highly regarded as a forward-thinking firm, which is developing in a sustainable manner and sets out to put clients at the centre of everything it does. That really appealed to me and aligned very much with my own management and leadership style.

Tell us what a typical day looks like?

I’m sure everyone says the same that no day ever looks the same, but typically the day kicks off with staff supervision each morning. I enjoy aspects of what I do, but I especially enjoy the supervision of junior members of staff. The rest of the day is a mixture of departmental management, which can include performance and staff-related issues; working on client matters; and also the all-important job of business development.

As someone who always wanted to go into law, what are your career ambitions?

I want to build the most respected Real Estate Group in the North West and be part of the development of Pannone Corporate over the coming years.

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

I’d probably have to say, apply what I learned last time I was managing partner at Jolliffe and Co LLP and do it better this time! However, on a serious note, having that level of management and leadership experience hopefully adds another level to what I can bring to the firm and it’s something I’m very passionate about imparting on the team.

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

Given the area of law I’ve ended up specialising in, I would have to say property development. It’s a fantastic sector and one that’s always been central to the success of the North West.

Thinking more widely, what can the legal profession do to better support clients?

For me, client feedback drives development and clients need to know they can approach you on any matter. Everything then follows from there.

 

 

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In our latest My Life in Law, we speak to employment director, Stephen Mutch, about his career in law and his love of bass playing in indie/alternative group, BC Camplight.

I’m what’s called a ‘one club man’ in football.  I joined Pannone Corporate’s predecessor firm as a fresh-faced trainee lawyer back in 2003. This isn’t actually that rare at Pannone Corporate – there are a good handful of people here who joined when I did.

I joined Pannone straight from university, having completed a law degree at the University in Sheffield and a post-graduate in Chester.

They had a great reputation and a very varied portfolio of legal work. Even back then, they prided themselves on having a more human element than most firms – something I still think is true after nearly 20 years.

I’m rather ashamed to say that back then it was simply what most people did. Progress has been made, in terms of alternative routes into a career in law, but there’s still a very heavy reliance on a ‘good’ degree from a ‘redbrick’ university to open up doors. Lots more still needs to be done.

I like the intellectual challenge and getting to speak to and help people run their businesses. Employment lawyers are almost always a ‘distress purchase’, so it’s nice to help people with the problems or challenges their business are facing.

I spend most of the day on the phone or emailing clients providing advice, mixed in with a healthy dose of preparing clients’ defences for employment tribunal proceedings.

I’ve always enjoyed helping more junior lawyers navigate what can be a very difficult first few years, so more involvement in what I enjoy. That’s on top of the usual partnership, world domination type ambitions of course…

I would be a penniless and struggling musician (please see below)

I think some lawyers can still be a bit stuffy. Rarer these days, but clients don’t want that kind of lawyer anymore. Being user friendly and pleasant to deal with is top of most client’s priorities.

I play bass in indie/alternative band, BC Camplight, which releases records under the Bella Union label in London, so that takes up a lot of my time. We’ve been on the radio a fair bit and get to do around 30-40 shows a year. We’ve toured in Europe and played some of my favourite venues, such as the Roundhouse in London and the Paradiso in Amsterdam (Nirvana played there!) – there were 3,000 people in the audience, and I turned off my own instrument for our last song. Not cool! Our next record is out in the Spring.

I am also a trustee for a local arts-based charity called Art with Heart. Check them out here  https://artwithheart.org.uk/

I would say ‘please see above’, but I bore everyone to death with my tales of the (not so) rock ’n’ roll lifestyle!

 

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In our latest My Life in Law, we speak to paralegal Holly O’Farrell about her move from retail into law and her career so far as a legal apprentice. 

I joined the firm in January 2020, so I only had a few months in the office before the first national lockdown was imposed in late March. So far, the majority of my Pannone Corporate career has been undertaken from home!  

Before starting at Pannone I had been in private practice for approaching six years – at Clyde & Co for two years and then at Weightmans LLP. Prior to entering the legal profession, I worked in retail as a trainee assistant manager and ‘Style Advisor’ (read: personal shopper!). 

I am a paralegal in the construction team. I assist the head of construction with her day-to-day work and conduct some matters of my own under her supervision. 

What drew me to Pannone Corporate was the fact that it was a boutique firm that focused on commercial law and, as such, was a specialist in this area of work. The staff are so experienced because of that focus, and it has a hugely impressive roster of clients. As a result, the exposure and training available to a junior lawyer like me is fantastic. 

I am currently in the process of completing my CILEx qualification and will shortly qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive. 

I began my legal career as a legal apprentice. I don’t have a degree – I withdrew from the University of Manchester because, despite the advice from all my teachers, I felt that university wasn’t for me. I loved the idea of higher education but, in reality, I found I wanted to learn in a more practical environment. As I was living away from home, I needed to ensure I was still earning, so an apprenticeship was ideal for me. Doing it this way also means that, by the time I am formally qualified, I will have had the benefit of eight-plus years’ legal work experience, which puts me in a great position compared to graduates and other newly qualified solicitors. 

It might sound like an over-done answer, but genuinely each day is very different! In construction law, you do both contentious and non-contentious work. So, one day I may be working on a dispute for a client which might involve document review, possibly drafting submissions in adjudication or court proceedings and/or providing strategic advice to the client; the next I could be working on the contracts underlying a new building project, drafting a contract, or providing comments on a draft received from another firm to ensure that the client’s position is protected and there are no sneaky clauses in there that might cause them trouble down the line! 

The most satisfying aspect of the job for me is its variety – I purposefully sought a role in an area that provided variation to keep me hooked. My manager in my first construction role told me that even after 35 years in the sector he was still presented with work that he’d never encountered before. After four years specialising in construction, this is certainly ringing true and I can’t wait to keep being surprised for the rest of my career. 

Following completion of my CILEx qualifications, I am considering completing the SQE in order to cross-qualify as a solicitor. After I’ve achieved that I don’t intend to focus on any particular thing; I think there is some danger in having too fixed a plan. I just want to keep enjoying my work and be open to whatever opportunities arise. 

Get the corporate credit card out and get everyone to the pub, after so many months apart! 

I would probably have continued working in retail. I had ideas about moving into buying or visual merchandising. I definitely wouldn’t have continued in personal shopping. Pouring champagne and hoisting people into cruise-wear is not what five-year-old me dreamed of!

The usual – walking the dog, binging on Netflix and worrying that I don’t have enough hobbies! 

None that I wouldn’t be ashamed to admit to! However, I fancy myself as a bit of a dancer so, maybe when we’re all allowed to socialise again, I’ll get to embarrass myself! I do also have an excellent memory for song lyrics – in conjunction, these ‘talents’ result in quite the performance!

 

 

 

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Radhika Das is a Legal Executive in the employment team at Pannone Corporate. In the first in our series, My Life in Law, she tells us more about how she got into the profession and life at the firm.

When did you join Pannone Corporate? I joined Pannone in July 2018, so coming up to three years ago.

What was your role/experience prior to joining? I worked at a large respondent firm in Manchester which provided Employment Tribunal support.

Why did you join Pannone? The Pannone name is really respected in the industry, and I wanted more exposure to a different type of work. In my previous role, I dealt purely with litigation and defending Employment Tribunal claims; at Pannone, I do everything from HR advice, drafting contracts and handbooks and litigation. I have also provided on site HR support to clients.

What route did you go down, in terms of training and qualifications? I graduated with a LLB law degree and went straight into full time employment. I started off doing claimant work for a Trade Union and then moved to respondent work in 2016. I qualified as a Legal Executive in April 2021, after doing three years qualifying employment and submitting a portfolio.

Why did you choose this route? I liked the idea of being able to work in employment law and do my qualification at the same. It’s meant that I have had lots of exposure in employment law.

What is the most satisfying aspect of your job? It always feels great when we get a win at Tribunal. Giving evidence can be tough for the witness, especially when the case is a particularly emotive matter such as a discrimination claim. It is really satisfying when a witness gets through that and gets a judgment in their favour.

What does a typical day look like? It is really varied. One day I could be doing a telephone preliminary hearing, and on the same day I could be advising an employer about whether it is legally safe to dismiss an employee. The next day, I could be meeting with witnesses to take their statements or attending Tribunal – no two days are the same!

 What can lawyers / the legal profession do to better support clients? Does anything need to change? I think technology is the way forward. Everything in our lives is so much more accessible and I think the legal profession still has some work to do in that regard. COVID-19 has certainly raised some challenges for all sectors, but I think some changes may be around to stay – for example, electronic bundles and video hearings, which have worked really well in most circumstances.

 

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Yesterday’s ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) report on influencers highlights that over a three-week period, 65% of the Instagram stories monitored (over 15,000 stories) were not clearly labelled and identified as advertising content (as required by the CAP Code).

This ASA report has put influencers promoting products on social media back under the spotlight as so many have failed to meet the compliance standards required. The headlines focus on the fact influencers may be named and shamed if they don’t comply, but what does this mean for the brands and retailers that build campaigns around these partnerships?

 

The background

The code requires that any paid for advertising is clearly labelled with #ad or similar and social media companies have introduced tools to allow brands to advertise more transparently on their platforms, such as through the “Paid partnership” tag on Instagram. For a while, it did seem that celebrities and influencers were using the ad hashtag, after a few high-profile mistakes, but this has clearly fallen off the radar in recent times, at the same time as massive growth in this form of advertising.

The main issue is the huge disconnect between the ASA focus on protecting consumers from subliminal advertising and the influencer’s priority of maintaining an “authentic” image that is not tainted by sponsorship. The appeal of these social media pages is that they give followers an insight into the “real” life of the influencer or celebrity, which is aspirational and which many followers will want to emulate. If the followers realise that the content is only being promoted due to the financial relationship with the advertised brand, the content will naturally lose some of its appeal. In turn, this can lead to the influencer losing followers and this diminishes their appeal for other brands. It’s a bit of a vicious circle.

 

What does it mean for brands and retailers?

In the early days, big brands worked very closely with any talent representing their brand to ensure that the content they pushed out set the right tone and was compliant. Brands have moved away from this with influencers, most likely due to the push by influencers to maintain control of their channels and their image. In turn, brands have likely left responsibility for compliance with the influencer, which is not always the best move. Brands should consider doing their own due diligence on an influencer’s track record for compliance as part of their partnership campaign planning.

 

Brands have a lot to lose by picking the wrong influencer and falling foul of the CAP Code. Consumers often put a lot of trust in the accounts they follow and if they feel they have been misled or manipulated, they will quickly switch off from the influencer and the brand. It can be very difficult to come back from online setbacks as numerous brands have shown; but well targeted campaign can be hugely successful. Over the coming months, expect to see more collaboration and guidance from brands with influencers to make sure they hit the right mark. But if the media spotlight moves on to something else, you can expect to see these practices slipping back in.

 

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 The high-profile spat between Dolce and Gabbana and Diet Prada continues to create quite a stir among fashion circles – long after the now-infamous D&G ad campaign in 2018, which set this whole public affair in motion. The Italian brand has accused the self-professed ‘fashion watchdog’, Diet Prada, of fuelling a large-scale backlash to its misjudged ad, by unleashing a volley of social media content, as well as its contended “illegal publication of Stefano Gabbana’s private conversations” on Instagram.

 

Dolce and Gabbana alleges that by way of their heavily followed Instagram account, Diet Prada’s founders initiated a “smear campaign”, consisting of “serious and repeated defamatory conduct” aimed at harming the Italian brand to the value of €3 million in damages.

 

While the long-running legal battle is being played out in foreign courts, it poses some very pertinent questions that are as relevant to UK companies as they are to global brands – namely, the growing role social media is playing, not only in acting as a medium for defamatory comment, but being used as a tactic for applying pressure on the opposing side during legal proceedings.

 

Applying pressure in the hope of a settlement is nothing new; using such a public platform in which to do so is certainly a growing trend. Social media has popularised and accelerated many things in society – its vast reach, instant impact, and widespread adoption, makes it a perfect channel for engaging with untapped audiences and amplifying your message.

 

However, there’s a big disclaimer that comes with using this method to interact with people – whether you’re a business or an individual. Defamation occurs when someone causes substantial harm to the reputation of another by publicising a false statement – inappropriate or ill-considered written words, posting private correspondence in which allegations about someone else are made, sharing, forwarding or commenting on news or gossip, will all potentially be grounds for a libel case.

 

It’s so commonplace to use the likes of Instagram as a means of communicating with people, it becomes second nature to share material on the platform; it’s vital however that companies think twice about using social media channels as a pressure tactic in an ongoing legal case, or as a means of attacking competitors given the risk such behaviour could expose you to.

 

It’s essential to tread carefully when using social media and other media outlets for any form of publicity, whatever the motivation, and equally important to recognise when it’s happening to you as a business. When does a social media post cross the line? Where do the boundaries lie? Has something happened which harms your or your business’ reputation? Can you legitimately object and challenge the way in which a competitor has spoken about you on-line?  Once subject to targeted attack, the erosion of your reputation can be difficult to recover from.

 

As a business, it’s important to understand your rights when it comes to instances of defamation and the breach of privacy of your staff and directors, and to engage in PR and other business strategies appropriately through the right channels. Dolce and Gabbana’s bitter duel with Diet Prada has been played out in a very public way over a number of years. Businesses need to avoid airing their dirty (even if fashionable) laundry in public – it is ultimately and inherently unattractive, being publicity for all the wrong reasons. Instead, harnessing the power of social media positively to facilitate the creation or exchange of information in order to promote a business is much more likely to give that business greater longevity and credibility.

 

 

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