Branch Member Profile: Susan Turner, Vice Chair
Job role: Claims and Inquest Manager
Employment: South Western Ambulance Service
Specialism: Injury Work
I am a Chartered Legal Executive specialising in injury work. I currently work for South Western Ambulance Service as a Claims and Inquest Manager. Prior to that, I spent over 20 years working in the field of Claimant personal injury. I started my career as a legal secretary, then took on the role of paralegal, before qualifying as a Fellow in 2010. I was lucky enough to have a certain amount of autonomy in my paralegal role. I decided the logical step would be to qualify. I had no intention, nor a stack of cash to enable me to stop working and go to University, so the CILEx route to qualification was a perfect fit for my immediate goal. I could study and work - a no-brainer really!
In the words of Jeremy Clarkson, 'how hard can it be'? Little did I understand that CILEx was not the quick and easy route to qualification. I had to study hard and commit my time to the cause. At times it was hard; I failed, I cried, I threw tantrums, I had my first two children right bang in the middle of it all, but I got through it. I grew in confidence whilst studying, and this was reflected in the more complex cases that I was involved with. I was not a corporate number or a high volume claims handler simply there to tick boxes. I was handling litigated and non-litigated complex and catastrophic personal injury claims and, frankly, I was doing a flipping good job too. I was lucky that the team I worked with supported and believed in me and pushed me at every stage to be the best that I could be.
When I moved to another law firm after the birth of my first child, I handled cases involving child sexual abuse. I had never dealt with these cases before, and it was a shock to my new motherhood status. It was both hard and distressing, and there were more tears of anger at what I had to read; of how children were being let down and made to suffer. I was a new mum and probably a little hormonal, but eventually I put on my big girl 'professional' pants, and fought hard for compensation for victims of abuse. When I qualified in 2010, earning my Fellowship, there were no elf ears, no strange desire to drink mead or a mission to cast dodgy jewellery into a fiery volcano; there were, however, the obligatory celebrations, pats on the back and a massive chufty badge for moi! I did it. I was qualified. It was worth it. Every single part of it.
I definitely earned my stripes by continuing to act for victims of abuse and I was recognised for my hard work and dedication by landing a well-earned promotion to Associate in 2017. I barely let myself enjoy this new-found recognition before I made a massive decision. I mean this was huge, it was massive, it was scary and I may have thrown up a little in my mouth. I made the decision to leave private practice and accept my current position with the Ambulance Service.
As my Claimant minded friends like to rib me, I have 'gone over to the dark side'. I am now a Defendant lawyer handling a mixed bag of personal injury and clinical negligence claims, as well as some inquest work to keep me on my toes. Advocacy was never my strong point and I am not able to use the power of 'the force', that's for certain! However, I have stepped out of my comfort zone. Well, I say stepped, but what I actually did was leap away from the safe and warm bosom of my 20 year career acting on behalf of Claimants, into the sometimes confusing alternative universe that is the NHS and Coroner's Court with my new role of Defendant lawyer. I am only five months in, but I flipping love it! My metaphorical big girl pants are well intact!
I would not change any of my experiences, which have made me who I am today. Well, unless I could trade it for a hot date with Tom Hardy, but definitely nothing else would tempt me...
On a personal level, I love to read. I read anything really. I am not what one would call a 'literature snob'. I enjoy trashy romance, fantasy fiction, and the classics such as Austen and Bronte. I have a serious job. I have no desire to fill my time with more serious stuff. All stress and no laughs make Susan a dull girl. I therefore sway towards the less taxing reads, tending to keep things lighter. I am a mother to three human beings, two furry babies, and a wife to one (with an acceptable amount of fur!). I generally fill time by ensuring that my three small human beings are happy and healthy. I interplay those duties with refereeing the youngest ones because one 'looked' at the other. Apparently, that is unacceptable behaviour, only solved by screaming. Who knew!?
Well, I have come to the end of my musings about myself and, as I do so, I realise I have selfishly not mentioned anything about the Devon Branch. I have had a few roles, including Treasurer, and I am currently the proud holder of the position of Vice Chair. All you need to know is we are epic! But seriously, we are. The Committee dedicate their spare time working hard for our members; we want to give you the best we can for your tenner. We value feedback, so keep telling us what you want. Tell us if we get it right but also if we get it wrong. We are spreading our geographical wings in Plymouth and North Devon, as well as how we engage with our members and other groups. Come see us, come to our Ball, come to our events, email us, chat with us; you can even send us funny memes on Facebook and Twitter.
CPD Event - Work/Life Balance: Finding Balance In Your Everyday
On 14 November 2018, the Branch held a 'Work/Life Balance: Finding Balance in Your Everyday' workshop, facilitated by Branch Committee Member Emma Davies. It was a great interactive workshop, enjoyed by 14 delegates, with colouring and cookies! We used a 24 hour/7 day grid to colourfully illustrate how we spend our time and identify pockets of time for the things we really want to do in life, that 'light us up'. We also looked at whether we over-commit, what would happen if we said 'no' more often, if we spent enough time on ourselves and whether we might feel guilty about doing that. We identified that, as a profession, a lot of us are guilty of over-committing, working through our lunch breaks, early starts, late finishes, etc and what impact that is having on us.
It was a fun workshop and the feedback definitely illustrated an appetite for further events of this nature, e.g. mindfulness in the workplace, wellness, overwhelm, mindset, juggling motherhood with a professional role and recognising stress. This is something that we will be discussing in the next Committee meeting.
Autumn Charity Ball
The Devon CILEx Branch held its Autumn Charity Ball on Saturday, 27 October 2018 at Woodbury Park Hotel in Exeter.
We successfully raised a total of £450.00 by way of a raffle and a game of heads or tails, to be split equally between our two chosen charities: the CILEx Benevolent Fund and Dogs Helping Kids.
There was live entertainment from The Sound, a three course meal and wine on the table. 53 people were in attendance, making it a really enjoyable night to remember.
Our VIP guests were CILEx President Philip Sherwood, Deputy Vice President Craig Tickner, immediate past CILEx President Millicent Grant and Devon & Somerset Law Society President Stephen Mahoney.
The Devon Branch would like to thank our sponsors, Conveyancing Data Services, for sponsoring the wine on the table and both Conveyancing Data Services and Groundsure for providing sponsorship towards payment of the band.
Study Planning and Exam Technique Workshop
On 9 October 2018, the Devon Branch held a Study Planning and Exam Technique Workshop provided by Barry Wilding-Webb (Training Manager for Tozers LLP), at Ashfords Solicitors in Exeter, which covered the following:
- Study timetable
- Food, sleep and nutrition
- What to study
- How to revise
- Short-term and long-term memory (fridge and freezer)
Everyone in attendance found this workshop hugely beneficial, and great feedback was received.
Work-Based Learning Practical Workshop
On 19 September 2018, the Devon Branch was proud to present the second of two Work-Based Learning Practical Workshops, delivered by Barry Wilding-Webb, Training Manager at Tozers. This workshop forms part of the Devon Branch's strategy of greater emphasis on students and providing training that is of benefit to them.
Probate CPD Event
On 18 September 2018, the Devon Branch held held a Probate Law CPD Event at the offices of Michelmores in Exeter. Caroline Alexander, Head of Probate at Michelmores, provided the training session. She provided a very detailed presentation, which covered the following:
- Understanding the Will
- Estate values and Inheritance Tax
- Probate process
- Complications with Estates
- The importance of Estates accounts
This also included particular tips of what to look out for and mistakes that are often made. Some of those who attended worked within Probate departments, and thus this was very useful. Caroline also provided example templates of how to present Estate accounts, which were very helpful.
CILEx and DASLS Rounders Match
The CILEx Devon Branch, Devon & Somerset Law Society and the Junior Lawyers Division playing a friendly game of rounders by the canal in Exeter.
Work-Based Learning Practical Workshop
On 16 July 2018, the Devon Branch was delighted to present the first of two Work-Based Learning Practical Workshops, delivered by Barry Wilding-Webb, Training Manager at Tozers. The first session was held at Michelmores Solicitors in Exeter. Barry provided a very helpful and comprehensive top tips list to assist with completing the outcomes set by CILEx when submitting WBL portfolios. All in attendance asked questions regarding their difficulties, which Barry was very helpful in assisting with, as well as showing us the CILEx website link for further guidance. Feedback from those that attended was great.
CPD Event - Do's & Don'ts for an Instructing Solicitor
On Wednesday, 27 June 2018, the Devon Branch held an event in conjunction with Barrister David Campbell of Magdalen Chambers, who shared top tips on how to get the best out of your Barrister. This included Do's and Don'ts as well as What and What Not to expect at Court, and how best to prepare your brief.
Beer and Curry Night
The Plymouth section of the Devon Branch held their inaugural social event at The Stannary Court, Ridgeway, Plympton on Thursday, 24 May. The "beer and curry" night was thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended and it was an opportunity to catch-up with colleagues and meet new faces who work in the area. After positive feedback, we are now planning our next social and hope that we can reach out to a wider audience of CILEx members in Plymouth.
Devon County Show
On Saturday, 19 May 2018, Devon CILEx Branch Committee Member Lucy Pillinger of Kitsons LLP (FCILEx) and Branch member Catherine Guerin (FCILEx) attended the Devon County Show on behalf of their Firm and the Devon CILEx Branch. They thankfully had no need for wellies this year with blue skies and sunshine. It was a rewarding day and fun and laughter were heard frequently during the event.
On Saturday, 12 May 2018, CILEx Devon Branch Committee Members Lucy Pillinger of Kitsons LLP (Torquay) FCILEx and Edward Prosser of Toller Beattie (Barnstaple) marched in the 10th anniversary Exeter Pride event from Sidwell Street Gardens to Northernhay Gardens. Lucy and Ed were determined the attend to celebrate the ongoing work of CILEx and of equality and diversity within the legal profession.
CPD Event: Conveyancing - "Understanding the Ground" by Terra Firma
On 10 May 2018, the Devon CILEx Branch were pleased to present a conveyancing CPD event in conjunction with Terra Firma. The event was hosted by Michelmores and included a buffet lunch for attendees. Terra Firma, a nationally established leader in delivering due diligence solutions, really helped the attendees to better understand the physical, financial and legal risks associated with the many and varied risks the ground poses.
Devon and Somerset Law Society Awards
On 1 May 2018, the CILEx Devon Branch attended the Devon and Somerset Law Society Awards, which had previously been postponed due to the snow, at The English Riviera Conference Centre.
A well organised evening with after dinner speaker Mike Tindall contributed towards an enjoyable event. Featured: Devon CILEx Committee Members Edward Prosser of Toller Beattie (Barnstaple), Lucy Pillinger of Kitsons LLP (FCILEx and Affiliate DASLs members) and Natalie Dingle of NH Law Exeter.
The Devon Branch held a social event on Thursday, 19 April at George's Meeting House, Exeter. There was a good turnout with everyone enjoying good food and conversation.
Training on Revision and Exam Technique
On 16 April the Devon CILEx Branch collaborated with Brightlink Learning to offer our members an online revision and exam technique tip share via video conferencing. The session was a great success and those who participated commented on how effective it was.
CPD Event: Conveyancing - "Understanding the Ground" by Terra Firma
The Devon CILEx Branch were pleased to present a conveyancing CPD event in conjunction with Terra Firma. The event was hosted by Toller Beattie and included a buffet lunch for attendees. Terra Firma, a nationally established leader in delivering due diligence solutions, really helped the attendees to better understand the physical, financial and legal risks associated with the many and varied risks the ground poses.
Annual General Meeting
The Devon CILEx Branch held its AGM on 7 February 2018 at Magdalen Chambers in Exeter. This was followed by a social at Cosy Club in Exeter with the first drink being on the branch.
Emma Davies stepped down as Chair after three years in the role.
There was a big change in the Officer roles this year with committee members keen to take on a role in a different capacity. Gemma Rowe was voted as Chair and Susan Turner as Vice Chair.
Daisy Otton was voted as Treasurer and Membership Secretary, Caroline Lavis as Secretary and Helen Parsons as Social Secretary.
There were also 7 other Officer roles up for nomination which were all filled. With a 14 strong committee for 2018, we are sure a very exciting year lies ahead!
The Devon CILEx Branch held two Christmas socials on 7 December 2017, making these the last social events for what has been a jam packed successful year. One was held in Exeter and the other was held in Barnstable.
There was a good turnout at both events.
At the Exeter social, 12 CILEx Branch members enjoyed a three course meal at Harry’s Bar.
Great Legal Quiz
On 8 November 2017, the Devon CILEx Branch organised for teams to take part in the South West Legal Support Trust’s Great Legal Quiz. The joint Quiz Masters were Gemma Rowe and Sarah Summers.
The quiz was a fantastic opportunity for people to have fun and compete whilst doing their part to help and support those most in need of specialist free legal advice and help. Almost 40 people attended the event and the Branch raised £200 for the SWLST charity.
The winning team was Ashfords’ Employment team (pictured below) with a massive 67 points!
There was a great turnout of teams from Ashfords, Kitsons, Tozers, Morgan and Pope, Michelmores, Devon County Council, The Family Law Company and Magdalen Chambers.
CPD – Professionalism – Time Management by Barry Wilding-Webb of Tozers Solicitors and HQ guests Millie Grant (President) and Linda Ford (CEO)
The Devon Branch hosted a fantastically successful evening on the 25 October, arranged by our Treasurer, Susan Turner. This was one of our biggest turnouts to date.
This was a double whammy of an event for attendees to gain their CPD Professionalism outcome for the year and to get to hear about all things CILEx from Millie and Linda. We learnt all about the new Governance structure with CILEx, IT, Judicial Appointment, Journal updates, myCILEx, Qualifying Employment, Work Based Learning, Practise Rights, Intentions to lobby government and much more!
With a 5 hour drive to Devon, we are very grateful to both Millie and Linda for both venturing down to our neck of the woods.
Also thank you to Barry for delivering a fun session of Time Management.
CPD Event on ‘Getting the best out of your Counsel’
The Devon Branch held a CPD event on 27 September 2017 on ‘How to get the best out of your Counsel’. This was presented by barrister Natasha Bellinger.
Tea and Talk afternoon
The Devon Branch held their ‘Tea and Talk’ afternoon on 10 October 2017 in celebration of the World Mental Health Day.
There were lots of cakes on offer and a talk was provided by Simon Robinson from MIND on Workplace wellbeing which was beneficial to all.
The Devon Cilex branch held their summer party at the New Inn in Broadcyst, Exeter on 12 August 2017 for branch members and their family.
This was a fantastic day with summer games, a bouncy castle, cream tea, face painting and a live band. Everyone in attendance thoroughly enjoyed themselves, making it a great day for all.
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