60 Seconds With

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.” 60 Seconds With: Joice Carthy, Managing Partner, Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors

By Business & Finance
12 February 2019

Joice Carthy, Managing Partner of Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors takes on the Business & Finance 60-second interview challenge.

Q. What was your first job?

Apart from the normal teenage babysitting jobs, my first job during the summer holidays from college was working for a company which made artificial Christmas trees. As part of quality control you had to randomly select samples to check that all the packages had all the correct decorations and accessories in them. Although this was quite repetitive, it paid better than most local summer jobs at the time and a lot of my school/college friends worked in the same place, so there was a great camaraderie and most importantly at that age, money to socialise!

After my Master’s Degree at Cambridge University, I completed my legal traineeship at Arthur Cox Solicitors. I stayed on there in a largely commercial role for my first year as a qualified Solicitor and have been at ACL since 2002.

Q. What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

On a purely personal level, my greatest achievement was probably surviving the early years of raising my two children who literally never slept for the first few years of their lives!

Professionally, progressing and reaching each milestone in my career probably felt like my greatest achievement to date at that time. Watching the firm grow and improve during the years that I have been here has been extremely satisfying, but ultimately I suppose reaching Partner and Management level was very gratifying. Working at this level gives you a whole new perspective and appreciation for how law firms work, as well as a lot more responsibility. You juggle the day to day running of files together with issues around finance, compliance, human resources, etc. I do enjoy being able to give some guidance and having a role, along with my Partners, in planning for the firm’s future.

Q. In three words or fewer, how do you define success?

Enjoyment, learning, acknowledgement

Q. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

One of my favourite expressions which has become even more relevant since I took on the management role is “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!”

When you are juggling various different areas of work at Partner level, it really helps to pause and to plan how to tackle your ‘to do’ list bit by bit, so that you feel like you are in control and making progress. Once you knock one thing off your list, I find everything else seems more manageable.

Q. How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

We are lucky enough to have a great team who are always incredibly invested in our cases and projects and in the success of the firm. I think this commitment is reflected in client feedback – our support staff are invariably mentioned when clients thank us and it really is a team effort. I always find a simple thank you card from a client saying that you have helped them or have improved their situation, probably matters a lot more than people think.

It is easy to forget how much recognition for a job well done can mean to people – and a happy team is a more productive one. Speaking to new clients who have been recommended by previous clients, is a real testament to the quality of the work we do at ACL. In particular, within the area I specialise, there is a great deal of satisfaction in knowing that you have helped a seriously injured person have a better quality of life.

I have always aimed to treat people well and to show everyone the same respect, regardless of what position they hold in ACL. Your staff should always feel that they can talk to you and that they will be heard. You need also to be able to recognise and acknowledge people’s individual strengths and then assign tasks and roles to those that best suit them.

Q. If you could step into the shoes of one business person for the day, who would it be and why?

I think that is potentially a really long list, as I have no doubt that I could learn an awful lot from any successful entrepreneur who has built or grown a business, whether at a national or international level. However, the late Dame Anita Roddick (Body Shop founder) springs to mind. It is really impressive to build such a widely recognised brand anyway, but to do it as successfully as she did, against the prevailing ‘norms’ at the time because of what really mattered to her, is something I think we could all learn from.

Q. How do you relax?

I don’t get as much free time as I would like, but I do make a real effort to leave my desk and – weather permitting – get outside into the fresh air during the day, even just for a while, in order to re-calibrate. I am very lucky to live and work in a beautiful part of the country and I can go for a walk by the sea at lunchtime during the summer months, which is fantastic.

Spending time with family and children also helps me to unwind. There is perhaps little that is more effective at taking your mind off a difficult case or a stressful work day than sitting down and making a paper mache model of the moon with your child for a school project!

Q. What’s your motto?

I am certainly trying these days to live by the motto “don’t sweat the small stuff.” In reality, most things are entirely fixable. Nowadays I tell myself not to get stressed about the less significant things, because I have definitely been guilty in the past of catastrophizing and worrying about things that may never happen.

Q. What are your aspirations for the future?

As a firm we have seen a huge amount of growth and change in the past number of years and it is our hope to be able to build on this. We want to further extend our expertise in medical negligence litigation and all of our areas of work, as well as broadening our corporate and commercial offerings. Ultimately, we want to do really good work for people and to have happy clients.

Your staff should always feel that they can talk to you and that they will be heard.