Work Life Quiz: Helen Willett, SJ Berwin

What was your first-ever job?
Working in the local dry cleaners.



Helen Willett

Helen Willett

What was your first-ever job?
Working in the local dry cleaners.

What was your worst ­experience as a trainee?
Getting horribly drunk on my first team night out and then laughing so much that I hit my head on a wine glass, which broke and almost took my eye out. I’m ashamed to say that I barely even noticed until I woke up the ­following morning covered in blood.

Where’s the best place to go if you want to find out what’s really going on in the office?
The post room.

What time do you usually leave the office?
7.30pm.

What do you do at weekends?
Spend time with my ­partner and five-year-old twin daughters, which ­usually involves some swimming, tennis, cycling and craft activity.

What’s your favourite ­restaurant?
The Porthminster Beach Café in St Ives.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you have been?
A smallholder.

What’s your favourite film?
Hideous Kinky.

What was the first record you ever bought?
Denis Denis by Blondie.

What’s the best thing about your job?
The people I work with.

What’s the toughest thing about your job?
At the moment, the ­economic climate.

What’s your biggest work/career mistake and what did you learn from it?
Swearing blind to a client that I hadn’t received some documents. He then rang the other side and tore a strip off them. In the meantime I’d ­discovered that I’d been sitting on the documents. It taught me to always check before answering a question.

What car do you drive?
A tatty old Volvo estate.

What book are you currently reading?
The Deep by Helen ­Dunmore.

What’s your favourite ­children’s book?
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome.

What’s the most exciting deal/case you’ve worked on and why?
The one I’m working on at the moment, which is still confidential I’m afraid.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what two ­luxury items would you take?
A ball of wool and some knitting needles.

What’s the worst partner ­conference location you’ve attended and why?
I suspect this year will be the worst, given the ­current economic climate.

What’s the longest you’ve worked without sleep?
No deal has ever come close to the sleepless nights in the few months ­following the birth of twins.

If a movie was being made about your life, which actor would play you and why?
Felicity Kendall – she’d make me look like I’d like to.

Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Any one of my partners – I see more than enough of them.

Tell us two truths and one myth about yourself
I had chemotherapy last year and lost all my hair;
I love a good steak; I’m a dab hand at felting.

CV
Name:
Helen Willett
Firm: SJ Berwin
Title: Partner
Lives: Tulse Hill, London, and St Ives, Cornwall
Education:
1982-84: Godalming Sixth Form College, Surrey
1984-87: BSC Chemistry and Philosophy of Science, Kings College, University of London
1987-89: CPE and Law Society Finals, The College of Law, ­London
Work history:
1990-96: Trainee and assistant solicitor, Frere Cholmeley Bischoff
1996-2000: Associate solicitor, Ashurst Morris Crisp
2000-03: Associate solicitor, SJ Berwin
2003-present: Real estate partner, SJ Berwin