THE (NOT SO) LONELY LITIGATOR’S CLUB 9: SUE JAMES

I am taking advantage of this series to both make new friends and catch up with old ones*. I have known Sue James since we were at university together (a year or two ago now).  We were both involved in the running of the student law centre and  Sue has gone on to run law centres ever since.  Sue is director and housing law solicitor at Hammersmith & Fulham Law Centre.  She won the outstanding achievement award at the 2017 Legal Aid Lawyer awards. She writes a regular column for Legal Action  & has written numerous telling articles for Legal Voice.  I have been trying to persuade Sue to do appear on this blog for a long time, but been a bit wary of interviewing her because she is a real professional when it comes to writing about people, lawyers in particular. She has done some of the most prescient interviews of legal professionals I have seen.  Sue is the only lawyer I know whose MP has held a reception at the House of Commons in her honour . Sue can also bake…

1  Where are you working from now?

 

I’m working from my bedroom in the attic. Fortunately there is a nice large desk in there, but it’s starting to feel a little hot with the warmer weather, so it may turn into an office/sauna.

2. What has been most difficult about working remotely.

Not being with the law centre team. I like being with people and I miss my colleagues (and the printer).

3. What has been your biggest technical challenge?

Learning how to do do without paper – so, having meetings with documents on my phone while meeting colleagues on screen was challenging at first, as well as working out how to meet people on line. But now having set up a few meetings, I think i’m now getting the hang of it.

4. Is there anything (work wise) that you wish you had with you?

I’d love to have the office printer – but it’s a little big  to carry home. When my son came home from university early we were in need of another office chair – so I popped to Ealing Law Centre (where i’m a trustee and is just round the corner from where I live) to ‘borrow’ one (as well as a couple of notebooks!).

5. What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned.

My son (who is very tech savvy) has not only taught me how to split my computer screen, he has now sorted out two screens for me by hooking me up to a second monitor. So, that’s been really helpful.
I’ve also learned that if I hadn’t had a career I would probably be as big as a house, as I find I’m continually cooking, thinking about cooking and when i’m not thinking about cooking, I’m thinking about shopping. I do have two twenty something boys in the house, though, and food seems to magically disappear. It’s a good job I’ve invested in a table tennis table for garden exercise.

6. Do you think this is going to change the way you work in the future?

Only slightly as I physically like leaving the house and going to work. What has been great, though, is that Law Centre Network have organised weekly manager/director meetings with all law centres. So, I have been able to catch up with lovely colleagues around the country on Zoom who I wouldn’t otherwise see.
What worries me most, though, is because we have had remote court hearings it will mean HMCTS will use this as an opportunity to argue we should move to more remote hearings on the grounds of efficiency – without any evidence that this is so, or the effect on access to justice. I wrote an article for LAG this week that outlines why this is dangerous.

7. What is the first thing you are going to do when you are out of lockdown?

Go to the pub with my mates, or possibly the curry house, The Star of India, with some of the Justice Alliance crew, Simon Mullings was on about in his piece.
*Not that Sue is old.  She may want people to know that I was in the year ahead of her at university.