60-second interview with Andrea Jones
What does your firm do?
Irwin Mitchell is a full service law firm which provides a range of legal, tax and accounting services to individuals, businesses and charitable clients. I head the tax, trusts and estates teams in Leeds and Manchester and I am based in our Leeds office. We have one of the largest private client teams in the UK, and have over 28 Full Members of STEP, and ten affiliated members.
You’ve just been appointed Chair of the STEP Yorkshire Branch. Do you have any specific plans for your term of office?
I am delighted to be taking on the role of Chair of STEP Yorkshire and am looking forward to continuing to provide a full programme of events (albeit virtually for the foreseeable future) and also to promote STEP in the Yorkshire region. We will be doing things a little differently to previous years due to the current pandemic, but I am excited to be looking at new ways of delivering training and facilitating networking amongst Yorkshire STEP members to ensure that everyone continues to receive support from their local branch.
Can you tell us about the Collaborative Professionals Network (CPN), and your work there?
The CPN was created to encourage collaboration and communication between professionals and businesses working in Yorkshire, with the aim of promoting the services offered by the member firms and businesses to each other, and their clients. I represented STEP Yorkshire on the CPN committee as Vice Chair since it was launched in 2016 until just recently and was involved with its launch, including creating a constitution and arranging an annual programme of events. The CPN is a great way for STEP members to meet professionals from other areas and to promote STEP to a wider audience.
Irwin Mitchell is a member of the STEP Employer Partnership Programme (EPP). What made you want to join?
We have a large number of STEP members, students and affiliates at Irwin Mitchell so applying to join the EPP was the next step for us. The EPP encourages a high standard of training, learning and development for its members, which is something that we also promote at Irwin Mitchell. Our platinum accreditation demonstrates the strength of our national team and is a quality benchmark that demonstrates the exceptional training and support we provide to our colleagues.
What are the major issues that you are facing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic?
The pandemic has forced us as solicitors and TEPs to think about different ways of working, including remotely from home. At Irwin Mitchell, we were fairly well set up to work remotely before the coronavirus outbreak, but without doubt, the outbreak has accelerated our move to digital and remote working. Some areas of private client work cannot be conducted digitally, and for good reason; the obvious area being will drafting, but also working for elderly and vulnerable clients.
On a positive note, we find that holding virtual events has allowed members to join us who are often unable to attend in person, due to travel and time constraints.
What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?
STEP has done three really important things for me: improved my technical knowledge of tax, trust and estate law through completion of the STEP Diploma; widened my professional network via the STEP Yorkshire Branch and CPN committees; and lastly, facilitated the training and development of my team via the EPP.
What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?
STEP is the benchmark for the highest standard of professionalism for those providing private client advice. It is really important to have this standard, not only for those developing a career in this area but also for clients who are seeking advice. It is imperative, in my opinion, that we continue to promote the work of STEP both to our members and prospective members, but also to the public, to ensure that they are confident they are receiving quality advice.
What do you most like about your job, and feel is most worthwhile?
I find it really rewarding to know that I have done a good job for clients and receiving positive feedback is a real highlight. I also enjoy supporting and developing my team and helping them to progress professionally.
What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?
Speak to those who are working in this industry to get an insight into what the work involves, gain experience and if this is an industry that you want to develop a career in, then I would highly recommend becoming STEP-qualified.
Which social media channels do you use and why?
Both LinkedIn and Twitter are a great way of keeping up to date on developments in the law, in the local market and in the wider private client arena, as well as keeping connected with contacts, clients and STEP members.
Andrea Jones TEP is a Partner at Irwin Mitchell, Leeds. She qualified as a TEP in 2012 having taken the diploma route to membership. Andrea has been a member of STEP Yorkshire’s committee for the past eight years, acting as Branch Secretary for the past two years and Vice Chair of CPN since 2016 until her appointment as Chair in June.