Jon Leach, Savage Crangle Solicitors - My First Job
PUBLISHED: 14:23 08 November 2012 | UPDATED: 22:19 20 February 2013
Jon Leach, family mediator for Yorkshire solicitors Savage Crangle, talks us through his career so far
What was your first job?
My first job was emptying dustbins and pulling up weeds for the council during the holidays. It was hard work, but I met some fascinating people and found it a character building experience.
My first full-time job was as an articled clerk (now trainee solicitor) for which I was paid 5 per week. This wasnt so bad when you consider that once upon a time I would have had to pay a solicitor for the privilege of taking me on!
What lessons did it teach you?
The person who was supposed to be training me took no interest, but I was fortunate to be in a firm with lots of supportive young lawyers who gave me the chance to learn from them.
Theres no better way of learning than actually doing the job. You make mistakes but you learn from them. You also quickly gain wide-ranging experience you can draw on in the future.
How has your career progressed?
There were no career opportunities at the firm where I trained, so I moved to another practice and became a partner in a couple of years, in charge of family law.
Ive now been a solicitor for over 33 years dealing with divorce, children and financial claims.
What do you enjoy about your job now?
In the 1990s I became interested in mediation and trained as a family mediator, but at that time it was still an unknown quantity and didnt take off.
More recently, however, theres been a public shift, so I retrained in 2008 and went through the lengthy process of achieving full legal qualification.
When I first became a mediator it was quite daunting because it was so different from what Id been doing previously, but now, with experience,
Im rewarded by my ability to help people reach solutions.
Working as a family mediator is very different from being a solicitor, looking after the interests of one person alone.
I have to stand back, not take sides or make judgments.
My role is to help people talk to each other and find their own solutions.
Its fascinating and very rewarding to see them come to understand each others point of view and to move on from their sometimes entrenched positions to a place of compromise.
I see the physical signs of relief when they are able to reach a solution without the stress of going to court.
Whats next for you?
Im happy where I am. After so many years being part of the argument, Im thoroughly tired of confrontation.
Moving to mediation means I can now spend time helping people to resolve their issues without expensive and stressful legal battles.
What advice would you give?
In keeping with the family ethos which drives my work, I strongly advocate spending time with your family.
I particularly enjoy spending time with my two young grandchildren, who always lift my spirits and they fill me with hope for the future.