An Interview with Poppleston Allen – Part 1
NRBA delved into sponsors, Poppleston Allen’s licensing activities, inviting two of its leading females, Managing Partner, Lisa Sharkey, and Associate Solicitor, Hannah Price, to take part in a Q&A. Here’s what Lisa Sharkey had to say…
Lisa Sharkey, Managing Partner
Why choose licensing as a specialism?
I chose licensing as I was inspired by the clients. Their focus is upon delivering the best possible entertainment, food or drink offer to maximise their business. They want the customer to go away happy and wanting more. I’ve meet some very creative and driven people in my time and have learnt a lot from them about being in business and service delivery, which has helped me think outside the box as a lawyer.
Recognising your recent promotion to Managing Partner, how difficult was it for you, as a woman, to succeed to the top? I can honestly say that I have been very fortunate to work with a group of people who I would class as friends and who have been very supportive during my career. For me, success has never been about whether someone is male or female. It’s about working hard, having a passion for what you do, supporting and inspiring those about you and being a decent person. I must admit though, juggling work and kids especially when they were young was a challenge. Actually, it still is!
Is the legal profession progressive in terms of females taking lead roles?
That is very difficult for me to answer as I work in a bit of a vacuum. We are very specialist, only dealing in one area of law. I haven’t worked for many years in a big law firm so my experience might be very different to others. I have to say though that when I originally qualified and went into courts, there were very few females around me. That is very different today and I think the way lawyers work today is very different in terms of work life balance. Personally, I would say it is progressive.
Having made Managing Partner, is there anything you want to do differently or initiate within Poppleston Allen?
Jonathan has done a fantastic job at the helm of the firm for over 12 years in terms of growth, standing in the market place and building a motivated team of professionals.
I believe I can build upon this success by implementing some of my own ideas to run alongside some of the existing ones, but this is more evolution than revolution.
I’m currently overseeing a major IT project which will bring with it some significant work efficiencies. And, we are considering opening further regional offices to add to our Nottingham and London locations. But as I say, the firm is in great shape so no radical changes are needed.
Poppleston Allen is the number one licensing solicitors in the UK; how do you ensure it retains that position?
Many people think that just because we are the biggest licensing law firm, it must be fairly simple to stay that way. In reality it is hard. We face a number of challenges, not least that of competition, which is significant.
Like any professional services firm, first and foremost we are a people business. Our talented professionals are at the heart of our achievements. We have people with the key skills needed to drive our firm forward. Where we see gaps, we are happy to support our people and organise training and development. We are always looking to bring in further talent to ensure that we are giving clients the best service possible.
We run client feedback programmes to monitor what clients value about our services and to identify where we could do better.
We are very active in the licenced sector. We work closely with central Government recommending and supporting change and with the licensed trade press, UK Hospitality, The British Beer and Pub Association and the Institute of Licensing.
Poppleston Allen was created in Nottingham, yet the majority of your clients are from all around the UK, not necessarily Nottingham; is this something you want to redress?
There is nothing wrong with acting for lots of clients around the UK. It gives us lots of experience of what they are doing in other areas and how authorities dealing with licensing issues. I have drawn upon that experience to achieve new licences in Nottingham city centres cumulative impact area. We would of course love to have more Nottingham clients. Nottingham is our home so we are proud when we act for clients in Nottingham, especially as we are a pretty sociable bunch.
Would you like to see Pop Allen no.1 in Nottingham? If so, how do you go about this?
What does No 1 in Nottingham really mean? If you look at the legal directories and how they rank law firms, we are No1 across all the regions in England and Wales and in London. In fact, we are the highest ranked firm in England and Wales for alcohol licensing. And just the other month, we were the only law firm recommended for licensing and gambling in the inaugural The Times Best Law Firms 2019 list.
Plus, our head office is in Nottingham’s Lace Market, where we employ 50+ people.
POPPLESTON ALLEN 37 Stoney Street, Lace Market, Nottingham NG1 1LS. www.popall.co.uk tel. 0115 953 8500