The Lawyer Inquiry: Tessa Shellens

Tessa Shellens was born in Porthcawl in 1949. She is a partner at Bevan Ashford in Cardiff. Anyone wishing to take part in The Lawyer Inquiry should contact Jemma Pearson on: 0171-970 4614.

What subject(s) did you fail at school?


What was your first job?

Selling dress material. Unfortunately, I was very ignorant about dressmaking, so I wasn't very good.

What was your first salary as a lawyer?

u750 a year.

What would you have done if you hadn't been a lawyer?

Not a dressmaker!

What was your most satisfying professional moment?

Persuading a doctor that it's OK to say sorry.

What was your most embarrassing professional moment?

As a novice magistrates' clerk, disqualifying a defendant of 18 from driving for 13 and-a-half years for a series of taking and driving away offences.

What annoys you most about clients?

It sounds priggish, I know, but I like my clients. Oh, OK then, there are still some who try to call me "love".

What do you least like about being a lawyer?

Chasing bad debts.

And the best thing about being a lawyer?

Every day is different.

Who do you most admire, and why?

NHS staff, professionals and managers who work for something in which they believe.

Which famous person or historical figure would be your ideal client, and why?

Anita Roddick: she's entrepreneurial, fun, and that's the Christmas shopping sorted out too.

What character do you most resemble in Ally McBeal, and why?

Who's she?

What is your most annoying habit?


How do you relax?

Retail therapy with my two teenage daughters.

What is your most precious possession?

My family photo album.

Where would you like to be right now?

Where I am.

In 10 years' time, where do you see yourself?

Winding-down, working part-time and only doing the jobs I really fancy doing.

What is your biggest fear?

The resignation of the lady who does the ironing.