Member Q&A - Patricia Wass

Member Q&A - Patricia Wass


What made you join STEP?

I was encouraged to join by colleagues in another local firm who had already become members. This led me to become a member of the West of England branch, where I met other like‑minded people. From those early introductions, I met Adrian Miller, who has been my mentor during the whole of my STEP journey. He encouraged me to get involved with the local branch committee and from there to stand as a representative on the England and Wales Regional Committee, which I eventually chaired. Once on the Regional Committee, I began to understand how the governance of STEP worked and I knew that I wanted to make a contribution for my region on the STEP Council. From Council, I was encouraged to stand as a representative on the STEP Board, which led to me then becoming the worldwide Deputy Chair and then serving as the worldwide Chair of STEP between 2017 and 2019.

What has been your greatest professional  achievement?

There are two professional achievements that I am particularly proud of. First, setting up the mental capacity team at Enable Law. From a modest beginning with just a few interested fee earners and support staff, I am delighted to have seen the team grow to 35 members. We enjoy national recognition in the Chambers legal directory and have been shortlisted on a number of occasions for Vulnerable Client Advisory Team of the Year at STEP’s annual Private Client Awards. Second, being appointed as the worldwide Chair of STEP has been the highlight of my professional career. When I first became a member of STEP, I never dreamed that I would be able to serve the Society one day in this role.

Congratulations on being awarded both a Lifetime Achievement Award and a Founder’s Award. What do these accolades mean to you?

It has been such a wonderful surprise to be the recipient of a Founder’s Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award. The years of volunteering have been an integral part of my professional career and I have learnt so much. Great memories have been made and STEP has provided so many wonderful experiences over the years. It has been nice to appreciate that all the hard work put into STEP and my professional career over nearly 40 years has now been formally recognised by others. I dedicated the Lifetime Achievement Award to all my vulnerable clients and their families who I work with on a daily basis. My clients face many challenges, and it has been rewarding to help find solutions for them to make their lives a bit easier.

What do you think makes a successful, trusted  advisor?

As trusted advisors, we need empathy with our clients and the ability to just sit and listen sometimes. We are expected to find the legal solutions to their problems, but sometimes listening is just as important. Taking an interest in their lives and going the extra mile for them are important attributes of a trusted advisor. I have been invited to a number of special birthday parties and anniversary events by my clients over the years and I am now acting for the third generation of some families, which is a reflection of the trust and confidence that they have in me. It is also a great responsibility when they have that element of dependency on you to get their affairs in good order.

As STEP celebrates its 30th birthday, would you like to share a  message?

STEP is an amazing organisation. Over the past 30 years, it has made a significant contribution to the development of the private client industry across the world. Its focus on educational excellence has been of paramount importance in the global recognition of our members as experts in their fields. I hope that we can continue to build on the four strategic themes that have been set by the STEP Council and Board, which will help us continue to progress the vision we have for the Society. I would encourage any member coming into the organisation to get involved with their local branch. Although I appreciate the pressure of work and financial targets put on all of us, there is no doubt that careers are progressed by volunteering. It gives you an opportunity to gain experience and to build a network of colleagues who will be with you throughout your professional career.

 

Fast five


If you were not a trust professional, what would you be?

Probably a music therapist, as I have seen the benefits of this form of therapy with my young disabled clients and my elderly clients suffering from  dementia.

What are you currently watching/listening to?

Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and The Lacuna by Barbara  Kingsolver.

Favourite place to visit in the world?

I had a sabbatical that gave me the opportunity to travel around New Zealand. It is such a wonderful country with truly magnificent  scenery.

What do you do when you aren’t advising clients?

Time spent with my five young grandchildren is a priority. Walking on Dartmoor and the South West Coast Path is a favourite  pastime.

What is your professional philosophy?

Never be afraid to ask – no question is a stupid  question.