Charlotte Pollard of DKLM discusses her journey from TV production to private client law, and why she has never looked back
Why did you decide to move to a career in law, and in private client law in particular?
As a child, I spent hours watching my father ‘acting’ as a barrister in court. I have always had a passion for drama. The courtroom felt thrilling and theatrical. During university holidays, I worked at the Crown Prosecution Service, although I lacked the confidence, resilience and grades to apply for law as my first degree. Besides, I had to satiate my ambition to perform!
TV completely shaped my career as a lawyer
Having acted in a national school theatre tour for a year after my first degree in Drama and English at Warwick University, my fascination quickly transferred to the other side of the camera, to television production. I was promoted to production manager, primarily on arts documentaries, travelling the world and entering exclusive and unusual environments and situations. I eventually went freelance.
A late-night telephone call from a West Hollywood hotel to a Channel 4 lawyer to agree amendments to a celebrity contributor’s release form instilled in me the confidence to qualify as a lawyer myself.
My decision to work in private client law (as opposed to media law) was a result of subsequent tragic personal experience: the loss of my brother Mark to cancer and the painful litigation that followed it, primarily as a result of his intestacy, closely followed by the sudden death of my father, for whom I acted as joint executor. These experiences left me fearless and gave me the determination and self-motivation to become a private client lawyer.
Has your experience in the world of TV helped your legal career in any way?
It completely shaped my career as a lawyer. It is where I met my husband, who encouraged me to give up TV to requalify as a lawyer.
My production manager role involved negotiating, scheduling, budgeting, cost reporting, drafting contracts for legal approval, and communicating with crew, talent, contributors and agents alike.
Working in TV formed my personality: my resilience, after lengthy days of filming; my determination, when tasked to find last-minute obscure contributors for demanding directors; and my self-confidence, having developed the ability to connect, empathise and converse with anyone and everyone.
Who is your private client role model?
During training and beyond, Richard Roberts and Justin Roberts, directors of Gedye & Sons, both of whom were my mentors and inspiration to believe in myself, maintaining a keen sense of humour wherever possible and appropriate. More recently, Jeremy Kleinfeld and Mulraj Jethwa of DKLM, Leon Pickering of Ten Old Square, Christopher Kerr-Smiley of Womble Bond Dickinson and Katie Martin of Hunters, all of whom are my current pillars of wisdom.
Did you have any preconceptions of private client law?
That it was uninteresting, uneventful and quite contrary to media law, which is still portrayed glamorously in film and TV. I now know that connecting with media contacts would have been far less satisfying than with my clients, for whom I feel I can make a difference. Every day in private client presents new challenges beyond my familiar comfort zones: entering people’s lives and finding an a way to discuss mortality within families – thoughts which are otherwise unspoken.
What do you know now which you wish you’d known when you started out as a private client solicitor?
How much I would care about my clients, some of whom have died. Unfortunately, I feel as though I experience loss on a regular basis.
What does being an independent administrator involve?
As private client solicitors, we encounter disputes, or an impasse in the administration of an estate, which will usually incur unnecessary expense, upset and delay.
As a way of avoiding costly court proceedings, appointing an impartial independent administrator to progress the administration of the estate is usually a cost-effective, practical way forward. It relies on the parties currently appointed as executors or administrators agreeing to stand down and, dependent upon the stage of the administration at the time of the impasse, an application is made under section 116 or 117 of the Senior Courts Act 1981. Once appointed, an independent administrator acts as administrator, unless powers are limited by the probate registry.
Share some great advice you’ve been given.
‘Never, never, never, give up’: Winston Churchill, echoed by my sister, Jane (without whom I would have given up).
Were there any challenges in coming to a law career later in life?
Being older, with different qualifications to those graduating in law now, but without 25 years’ PQE. Particularly relevant to private client practice, I believe that experience of life, work and death should have its own PQE.