1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Erica Turner and I’m a Partner and head of the commercial property team at Jacksons. I’ve been with the firm since 2004 and am based primarily in our Head Office at Stockton, but work flexibly between the Stockton and Newcastle offices.
2. Where did you go to school/uni?
I went to Laurence Jackson School in Guisborough, college at Prior Pursglove and undertook my degree at Teesside University. You might say I’m rather fond of the North East!
3. What brought you to Jacksons?
I originally applied for a temporary work experience placement at Jacksons whilst I was undertaking my degree in 2004. I thought that if I could gain some experience of working in a law firm that would stand me in good stead in terms of finding an opportunity post-degree. I applied to a number of North East firms and Jacksons was, in fact, the only firm to respond! The firm was unable to offer me work experience at the time but I was offered paid work in administration over the summer. This proved to be invaluable as it provided me with a great insight into how a law firm operated, how to deal with clients and how each team interacted with one another. Being a local girl, I was aware that Jacksons had a fantastic reputation and I felt very fortunate that the firm had created a position for me and this was the first time the firm had taken a chance on employing a student to assist with workload.
4. Why did you decide to stay at Jacksons throughout your career?
The arrangement worked so well that I continued to work for Jacksons during holidays and undertook the Legal Practice Course at York on a part time basis, whilst working three days’ a week for Jacksons which assisted me with funding the course. I was offered a training contract at Jacksons and have remained with the firm ever since. I really wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. The firm has shown loyalty to me, to its staff and its clients, notwithstanding challenges the business has faced and I’m now in a position to be able to reciprocate and assist the next generation of clients and staff.
5. What do you love about being a commercial property lawyer?
Commercial property can be challenging as we often deal with time sensitive complex projects, and no two transactions are the same. I love the feeling of completing a transaction, allowing a client to move into new premises or to commence their new business venture, knowing that I’ve played a part in assisting that client achieve their ambitions and take their business to the next level. No matter how big or small the transaction, the sense of joy in having completed a matter for a client remains the same.
6. What changes or difficulties have you seen in Teesside during the time you’ve been with Jacksons?
I qualified as a solicitor in 2010 and undertook my training contract in 2008 at the height of the recession. I knew at that stage that I wanted to qualify as a property lawyer and that was a frightening concept given that the property market had all but collapsed. I’ve also witnessed first hand the significant impact that the closure of the SSI site has had on the region, coupled more recently with the pandemic. During these difficult times, Jacksons undertook initiatives to help clients who required property advice often on a free of charge basis. I think that in typical Teesside fashion it was recognised that we were all in the recession together and the best way to improve our situation was to work together. Teesside has changed significantly during my time with Jacksons and is continuing to do so. The region is moving away from heavy industry and innovating to become a hub for renewables projects, digital technology and first class office space.
7. How do you see the future for Teesside?
Exciting! The milestone events above highlighted the fact that Teesside needed to diversify and it is doing so with gusto! As a Teessider, born and bred, I am thrilled to see Teesside being recognised nationally prompting investment into the region. There are businesses in Teesside that have experienced some very challenging times and those that have survived and indeed those start up businesses choosing Teesside over other regions as their “home” deserve to benefit from this.
8. What do you do to support the local business community?
Since leaving University I have always played a part in “giving back” to the community. I am a firm believer that I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I did without others investing in me, and therefore it is important to me to do all I can for the local community to allow others to have the same opportunities that I did. I regularly attend Teesside University, at the request of my former tutors, to present to students on my experiences as a solicitor and to provide them with ideas and concepts which they may take forward to dissertation. I am a regular chair of a local women’s only networking group, Assist, which provides help, support and advice to local businesswomen involved in all types of business. Until very recently, I served as a Trustee and Company Secretary for Teesside Hospice and did so for eight years. I felt proud that my expertise as a lawyer allowed me to provide guidance and advice to a local charity close to my heart.
9. What projects/matters have you been involved with which you are most proud to be associated with?
I’m proud to have been involved in some significant client projects over recent years which stand to aid Teesside in its diversification process. I have been involved in a number of projects for Teesside Airport, the creation of energy from waste plants for both Scott Bros and PD Ports and redevelopment projects for local authorities.
In addition, I am the training partner at Jacksons which allows me to play a part in developing our future generation of legal assistants, solicitors and administration staff. This, in particular, is an incredibly rewarding experience.
10. What do you do in your free time?
I love to relax and rewind by enjoying walks in the local countryside with my husband and our two dogs. I’m also a fair weather cyclist! In contrast, I also enjoy the thrill of power and speed and follow all types of motorsport including F1, BTCC and Moto GP.
11. Sum up why Jacksons is a great place to work in one sentence.
Jacksons has fantastic staff akin to family members and who are willing to go the extra mile to provide a personal service to the firm’s clients and whom, themselves, are talented, ambitious and diverse.