First Impressions: 1988 to 2020
As we prepare to celebrate our 200th year in business, we’re taking a trip down memory lane to look back at how times have changed for our firm. Today, we’ll be chatting to Bev who joined us in 1988, and Rosie who joined us more recently in 2020 to reflect on their earliest memories of Bell Lamb & Joynson Solicitors.
Do you remember exactly when you started working with us?
Bev: “Yes! I originally started on the 3rd November 1988, which I recall was a Thursday. I had only been in this country for a couple of weeks after returning from living in the United States with my family - I was 19 years old at the time and had been living out of the country with family in USA, Kuwait and Indonesia on and off since I was 4 years old.”
Rosie: “My first week at the firm was in October 2020 - I came in for the full week so I could get used to a few things and have people around me to help with any questions I had. Due to the current circumstances and the Coronavirus pandemic, I believe this was my only full week in the office since I started! It has certainly been very strange, and I know we’ve had others who have started during the pandemic too. However, the firm really encourages us to use video calls when we need to speak to other members of staff, instead of just calling them or messaging them – it’s a nice touch when you work from home all day and don’t see anyone.”
How did your role come about?
Bev: “We were on a trip back to the UK in that October/November and were staying with my aunt and my grandmother in Liverpool and I just decided that when the rest of the family went back to the USA, that I would stay. I’m not really sure why I made that decision, as I had spent my teenage years in the United States and really knew nothing about living or working in the UK, but I did it and moved in with my aunt near Old Swan and started looking for a job.
“Within a couple of weeks, I had seen the advert for an Audio Typist in Bell Lamb & Joynson in their Walton Vale office – I remember the wage was £50 per week. I went for the interview and before I had even returned home, Moira who interviewed me had called the house phone (remember, there were no mobiles in those days!) and offered me the job. Perhaps it was my American accent that intrigued everyone…”
Rosie: “I was originally going to go to Edge Hill University to study Marketing & PR, but I obtained an A* in Law in my A-Levels and was persuaded by my teachers to study law. I managed to secure a place at the University of Birmingham to study law through the adjustment scheme. Originally, I thought I would end up in Family Law but took a paralegal job in property after completing my LPC – I’m very glad I didn’t end up in family or any other area of law as I didn’t want to go to court. I’m a very organised person and love being busy so in a way, property is perfect for me.”
What do you recall about your first few weeks at Bell Lamb & Joynson Solicitors and what were your first impressions?
Bev: “Things were a lot more formal back then. There were two partners working in the office and we had to call them both by their full names, there was no familiarity in those days. They even had their own ‘partnership facilities’ that only they could use and the rest of us shared one toilet.
“Everything had to be extremely quiet, and we all had to wear dresses or skirts to work. We had to be at our desks by 9am on the dot and had to carry on working sat at our desks until 5pm, other than lunch times which were strictly either 12pm-1pm or 1pm-2pm. We weren’t even allowed to purchase anything like fish and chips for our lunches as the partners didn’t like the strong smells around the office – it seems laughable now!”
Rosie: “Before I joined Bell Lamb & Joynson Solicitors, I worked for another local firm, so I’d dealt with them on a number of matters but assumed they were another standard high street firm who were old school in their ways. I had no idea how tech-based the firm was and was shocked to find out they work paperless in property. When Mike (Leeman, Managing Partner of Bell Lamb & Joynson Solicitors) showed me the app, I thought it was fantastic, especially the firework animation that happens when a property matter completes – I just love these little things. I remember being really impressed with the communication between staff and management here. Sometimes you don’t get that in firms.”
How has technology changed at Bell Lamb & Joynson Solicitors?
Rosie: “We actually have our own app now, which I love as it allows me to manage my emails and chat messages better. The app and portal also allows us to send quick updates to clients without the need to send emails, so it saves a lot of time, plus I know my mum and brother who are both using the firm for their purchases compare their lorries on the app and send screenshots to each other, which I find quite funny!”
Bev: “Back in 1988, there were five of us in the typing room all working on old type-writers with carbon paper - and lots of tip-ex! It was quite a few years before we even got our first electric typewriter with a screen where you could see a few words at a time – I remember that that was very fancy for us.”
How would you describe your experience at the firm?
Rosie: “There is certainly no hierarchy in the firm, which I love, and Laura (Cartwright) and Mike really promote this. There are no stupid questions, and everyone is always asking each other for help and advice on the team chat, for example.”
Bev: “I remember back in the 80s, one of the partners had the room next door to us - if he heard any laughter coming from our room or loud talking, he would be right in like a shot to find out why we weren’t working. If he came in and his secretary wasn’t glued to her chair, he wanted to know why - there was no getting away with anything in those days.”
Rosie: “Really? I’ve found that you can certainly ‘have a laugh’ with the partners, and I think they understand that having a fun work environment can actually be more motivating to the team. We spend more time at work than we do at home and with our loved ones, so it is so important to have a good work environment.”
Bev: “Despite the fact that it was all very formal and strict, it was still an extremely enjoyable job and we did all manage to enjoy our time together during the day. Everyone was able to have a laugh – even if it was at my expense when I had a couple of good typos with Liverpool County Court and Public Order! I will leave those to the imagination - suffice to say it was extremely lucky someone spotted the errors before the letters went out in the post.