Melinda Giles talks about her career, her role as a member of the Private Client Section Council, and shares some good advice.

What was your first job?

I come from a family of lawyers and thought I would be different (not for long as it turned out!) and so I studied French at the Sorbonne University and then took my first job as P.A. to the Maitre Chef of the Savoy Hotel.

Who are your roles models in private client law and why?

This is difficult to answer without excluding the very many and varied people who have inspired me on the way. I always buy copies of ’Eve Was Framed’ by Helena Kennedy for anyone who I think will enjoy it as much as I did, so I suppose she is one of my role models. Likewise, I have a hard act to follow as Council member for Private Client in Helen Clarke who we all know was so hard working and generous in sharing her knowledge.

Career highlight?

My career highlight was also one of my most scary moments; I was witness for the prosecution on a case where I gave evidence as the deputy that a previously appointed deputy in the court of protection had stolen £1.3M from P.

Share some great advice you’ve been given.

To listen and learn more than talk (and as I talk a lot this this took some work).

How do you relax?

Walking my dog on the beach in Leigh-on-Sea.

What’s your pet hate?

The wrong use of apostrophes, would ’of’ instead of would ’have’, and poor grammar generally.

Sum up working as a solicitor in one word.

Humbling. I say this because I meet so many people through the course of my work who face such adversity, and additionally because I am constantly reminded of how much more there is to learn.

Favourite city?

London of course! I love the mix of history and modern diversity.

What book is on your bedside table ?

Harriet Harman’s autobiography ’A Woman’s Work’ – whatever your politics, it is a must read for all solicitors who try to juggle a professional life with a family one, or who want to understand others that do. It charts the huge strides made in women’s rights since the 1970s and it is an easy read.

If you hadn’t become a solicitor, what would you have done?

I have no idea. I love being a private client solicitor – I enjoy the law and the variety of clients and situations in which they and their families find themselves. I also enjoy training young solicitors and the management aspects of running a law firm – it ticks all the boxes for me.