Name: Sally Hulston

Firm: Lewis Silkin

Based: Manchester

Role: Partner

Trained at: Eversheds

Year qualified: 2003

What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?

I have a few that are all sort of related! I started my training contract on 10 September 2001 and the world came to an abrupt halt the following day. I was actually down at Aston University for the PSC course that week and staying in the Halls of Residence there. We had no TVs in our bedrooms and so I remember vividly being glued to the TV in the student union watching the events unfold, about three hours after they had happened as we had been in lectures and no-one had any idea (I didn’t have a mobile at the time – how different to the world today!).

What followed was a very quiet four-month corporate seat, to the extent that I spent most of it running errands for one of the partners, which, on one particular day, involved me being given £100 and sent shopping to Karen Millen in the newly built Corn Exchange in Manchester for a “little black dress” for his wife when he had had an argument with her and wanted to make up.

My most vivid memory, however, was being ordered by the same partner to follow him out of the building and into his brand-new Jag on a trip to the local gun shop in Manchester city centre to help him choose a new gun for his shooting trip to Scotland at the weekend. My help involved sitting in his Jag for 3.5 hours (while he went inside the shop to test the guns), which was parked on the double yellow lines outside the shop where he had thrown the car, with the instruction to drive it around the block if I spotted a traffic warden!

As I had no mobile at the time, I spent the whole time fixated on the wing mirrors looking out for any traffic wardens approaching and panicking that I had never driven an automatic car before (let alone one that I wasn’t insured on it!). Thank goodness one didn’t wander past!

Tell us about a sliding doors moment when your career could have gone in an entirely different direction? 

Ooh this is a tough one but I would probably say that it was when I was waiting (very patiently) for partnership at Addleshaw Goddard and, let’s say, “considering my options” because I had been told it may be a 5-10 year wait until one of the current Northern partners left or retired. I was pretty much giving up hope – and had a couple of other job offers on the table – when Emma Whiting, who was the head of employment in the Leeds Addleshaw Goddard office at the time, chose to leave, totally unexpectedly (well, to me anyway!), and set up (the now wonderfully successful) Torque Law employment law boutique firm in York.

That then created an opening for me to step up to partnership (and head up the team!), albeit it involved a 5-6 hour round trip each day on up to six different trains over the following four years to and from Wilmslow to Leeds! But, as per my advice below, I was never going to turn the opportunity down, no matter how hard it was for me personally. What I learnt from those four years was invaluable as I grew the team from around three people to 12 and that has given me the ability, and confidence, to do it all again at Lewis Silkin!

What’s the hardest question you’ve ever been asked at interview, and how did you answer?

I’d say the hardest question was being asked what made me happy followed quickly by what made me sad. If I had had more time to think, then I would have answered much differently I am sure but I recall that I said that what makes me happy is being the best version of myself, whether that was as a daughter, friend, colleague etc (super cheesy!!) and what makes me sad was seeing all the deaths that had occurred overnight following an earthquake somewhere in the world. I got the job and so it must have been passable!

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?

The best advice by a country mile (and anyone that knows me is aware that I repeat it at least once a week) is to “Say yes, and work it out later!” (a motto that I had read Richard Branson lived by!). It is amazing how you can always find a way to do something (or solve something) when you have already told someone you have got it and it is in hand!

Tell us about ONE former colleague who you miss, and why? (It doesn’t have to be a lawyer)

Well, in all honesty, so many of my favourite colleagues have ended up moving with me and so I am fortunate to still be working with most of them several years later! There is one colleague that I really miss, though, and that is Rosie Kight (now at Kings Chambers in Manchester), who I very much grew up with at Eversheds and then Addleshaw Goddard but am lucky to still call a friend (and now instruct on our tribunal cases!) We went through a lot together – and kept each other going!