Reflections on 2021

7 years ago, I resigned from a small firm in which I was a Director. Next month, I will have consulted with my current firm for 5 years. I am much happier being self employed, but it was not easy starting again from scratch. I had zero clients and zero income and had to go back to the drawing board career wise. I started with a small advert and minimal expectations. I took every single case, no matter where it was in the country in an effort to build a client base. I hoped that if I did a good job, the client would recommend me to someone else, and it would be a tiny snowball that would gradually roll and get bigger.

Taking cases outside of the North West was intentional as I wanted to expand my practice, but over time, I learned which cases to take on and which were simply too far away. I understand now what is cost effective and which prisons will do video links for visits or are a couple of hours in the car away, or a nice journey which I don’t mind doing.

There are challenging aspects to self employment certainly, but also wonderful trade offs such as flexibility and freedom to work in the way I want. It can be stressful at times just relying on myself to generate work rather than having it handed to me by a firm, but every single day I feel grateful not walking into that firm, which still has my surname initial in its title, despite my being long gone.

I’m ready to mix things up in 2022 and I hope to go back to University to study a Masters degree. I’ll be studying part time and still working.

This year has been undoubtedly challenging for all of us, and I hope you all managed to navigate it in the best way possible. I was able to travel this summer, which was a welcome relief, and my eldest son started his second year at University. One of the best parts of this year for me has been visiting him. I’ve loved being out of the City and enjoying spending time with students who are excited for their futures. It has definitely influenced my decision to continue my education and it has been very uplifting.

This prison law blog has increased in viewings year after year so thank you for the interest. I’m now averaging 400 visitors a month which is incredible, mainly from the UK but some from all over the world. I don’t know what 2022 will bring our way in these uncertain times but I wish you all a happy, prosperous and especially ‘healthy’ New Year. Merry Christmas!

Janine

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