Unbelievably, John Todd of AMD Solicitors has now been working in law for over 50 years! John began work as an “articled clerk” (now called a ‘trainee solicitor’) on 27 November 1964 and so celebrated his golden anniversary of legal work at the end of 2014. Matters have improved somewhat since John’s first employment contract which was both unpaid and somewhat less stimulating than his work in later years!
In the course of his career John has worked in divorce, family disputes, criminal law (including murder trials!) and civil litigation. For the last 40 years he has practised in Bristol, including sitting as a Deputy District Judge at local courts for over 10 years.
I asked John to tell me about some of the highs and lows of his long career, and to share some of the lessons he has learned over the years.
Highs and lows
John started his legal career working largely in conveyancing and debt-collection, which was not the work of his legal dreams. While John grew up his father worked, initially as a barrister and latterly as a High Court judge in Kenya, so John knew very well that a more exciting legal world existed beyond the walls of his office, and at the first opportunity he left conveyancing behind and started work in litigation. This was clearly the right move for him.
The aspect of legal life John has most enjoyed throughout his career is presenting cases at court. Nerve-wracking while preparing certainly, but full of challenge and adrenalin on the day, and a great sense of achievement afterwards.
Being a glass-full person John can’t remember many low points to his career. However he did think that being ‘on call’ for long periods over the weekend as a duty solicitor (in criminal law) was not always a lifestyle choice. Leaving his family (and often his Sunday dinner) to spend hours in the cells advising one accused client after another did leave him wondering from time to time whether this was in fact the career for him.
John recalls answering a call late at night and hearing a perhaps somewhat worse-for-wear client shouting “I am an innocent man!” repeatedly down the phone. Being a duty solicitor was clearly not the recipe for a good night’s sleep.
Working in family law inevitably exposes you to some of the worst aspects of family life. John recalls advising a client whose family home had been stripped by his wife whilst he unsuspectingly continued his day at work. Whilst sitting as a Deputy District Judge John ordered an injunction requiring a man to leave his home, to which the man responded by banging his own head repeatedly against the wall. Perhaps an occasion on which actions spoke louder than words.
Practising as a Deputy District Judge enabled John to see litigation from the ‘other side’, the judge’s perspective. He feels this experience was invaluable in helping him to approach Court proceedings in a balanced and reasonable way, effectively promoting the client’s case in the light of his understanding of the judge’s likely point of view.
Despite his work commitments, John enjoys a busy social life, including singing in two local choirs. Clearly the work-life balance is another lessen John has learned over the course of his long career.
John is based at AMD Solicitors’ Henleaze Road office, and is a much-valued member of the team of specialist litigation solicitors who provide advice and assistance in civil, family and commercial disputes. To benefit from John’s many years of legal experience and for practical advice on resolving disputes and handling court proceedings contact John and the AMD litigation team on 0117 9621205, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call into one of our Bristol offices.
AMD Solicitors are an award winning firm with four local offices:
100 Henleaze Rd, Henleaze, Bristol, BS9 4JZ 15 The Mall, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 4DS
139A Whiteladies Road, Clifton, Bristol, BS8 2PL 2 Station Road, Shirehampton, Bristol BS11 9TT
Call us on 0117 9621205
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