1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am Jane Armitage, the managing partner of Jacksons Law Firm and a commercial property solicitor. I spend most of my time managing the firm but have a group of clients who I look after also.
I am based in our Head Office in Stockton but regularly attend or communicate with the Newcastle team.
I have worked for Jacksons since 2004 when I took a temporary role in the commercial property team on a part time basis and I have been with the firm ever since becoming a partner, then equity partner and then managing partner.
2. Where did you go to school/university?
I went to school in a number of different places in Surrey, Norfolk and Devon as my family moved around a fair bit due to my father’s job.
I went to Bristol University and read law and then the College of Law in Guildford to study, what were then called, solicitors final examinations.
3. What brought you to Teesside and Jacksons in particular?
I moved to Teesside in 1992 from Bristol. My husband was working for ICI at the time and was transferred back to Billingham from Severnside.
After some maternity leave, a spell running my own business from home and a secondment as a family to Chicago, I was offered a temporary role with Jacksons which I was delighted to accept because the firm was commercial, friendly and was prepared to consider flexible working arrangements.
I have worked for the firm ever since and wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. We have great clients, loyal and friendly staff and Teesside is a fantastic place to work and bring up your family.
The client base at Jacksons has been established for many years, but there are lots of new clients too and the firm has evolved and changed along with its clients and their needs.
It is lovely to have a shared history with many of our clients who we have supported through thick and thin for many years, but also excellent to be able to act for new businesses in the region bringing new opportunities and employment to the area.
Our client base is diverse as we act for all sorts of businesses from start ups to PLC companies, from traditional industries to new tech companies and everything in between. I think it is important that we also have a personal legal services division so we can act for our clients for all their legal needs, including their personal requirements.
4. What changes or difficulties have you seen in Teesside during the time you’ve been with Jacksons?
Teesside as an area has been challenged over many issues in the period I have been at Jacksons and before then. In recent years, the closure of the SSI site has been particularly hard for the area with the loss of jobs on the site and in the supply chain. Sometimes the area has been overlooked with business concentrating in Leeds or Newcastle, but Teesside has for many, many years been an area of innovation and resilience.
At Jacksons, we have been there for the area and our clients, in good times and bad, and have been working with clients to bring new businesses to the area in, for example, the offshore wind industry, logistics and house building.
It is exciting to see the area receive government support and new investment and for the growth of the university, the digital sector and development on the Tees Work site.
The move of the Treasury to Darlington will give many opportunities to the area and we are excited for the future.
5. How do you see the future for the region?
I think the future for our region is very bright at the moment and that is really encouraging and exciting to see.
The people of Teesside have over many, many years shown great innovation and resilience and it is great to see the inward investment now taking place and new businesses arriving and existing businesses growing. This will give lots of job opportunities, especially for our young people who need these.
I am sure there will be challenges, and there is lots of work to do, but there is no doubt the people of Teesside will work hard and pull together to make the most of the opportunities and that the integrity and hard work of the local people will inspire incoming businesses and organisations to stay and grow when they discover this most valuable resource.
6. What do you do to support the local community?
I have always been involved in local community projects as I think it is really important as an individual and a business to give back to the community in which you live and work.
I have therefore chaired a committee to provide nursery school education and been a school governor in my village and with Jacksons have organised charity events such as a bake-off event for the Butterwick Hospice and a zoom tea last year for High Tide Foundation.
Jacksons is a corporate partner with High Tide and we are very proud to support this organisation providing work experience opportunities to young people in our area.
As a business it is really important for Jacksons to support the local community and in particular young people, and we work hard therefore at providing work experience opportunities and apprenticeships.
We run a number of charity initiatives throughout the year and encourage all of our staff to get involved. Even during lockdown, we have managed an afternoon tea, a keep fit session for Dementia UK, a murder mystery night and of course a quiz.
Personally, I am delighted to be taking part in The Girls Network mentoring scheme at present.
7. What projects/matters have you been involved with which you are most proud to be associated with?
I am very proud of lots of the work we do at Jacksons and some of the legal work that I have been involved in which I know has helped bring jobs and investment to the area.
I am very proud of the apprenticeship programme we have developed to give young people a start in a career in business, whether that leads to a role in one of our legal departments, in our administration support, in accounts, marketing or front of house.
I am delighted that as a firm we have supported all of our staff to do training and to get qualifications.
I am particularly interested in supporting young women in their careers and therefore as mentioned above, am delighted that I can act as a mentor and we as a firm can offer meaningful work experience.
We have also, as a firm, had a policy for many years to offer part time and flexible roles which started before it was fashionable and this has served the firm well in providing it with a bigger talent pool.
It is very rewarding to see how our initiatives have helped some returners to work kick start their career again and give them the confidence to move their career forward.
8. What do you do to keep in touch with the business community in the area?
Teesside is a very friendly and caring place to work and this has meant that many of the people I have met through work have become friends and I enjoy catching up with them.
As a firm we have also committed to getting the business community together, and before the pandemic held monthly business clubs at both our office In Stockton and the Secret Tower in Newcastle for clients, referrers and contacts.
These events had to move online 12 months ago but we have endeavoured to keep in touch with clients and other contacts throughout the period we have been working remotely. These “canny catch-ups” have been really enjoyable and are something we intend to keep, but hopefully lots of them will be in person.
I have also been instrumental in setting up business leaders meetings through the pandemic for the sharing of ideas and to provide support to those people who spend most of their time supporting others. We have formed some really strong relationships through these which we will definitely try and maintain as society opens up again.
9. What have you done to support staff at Jacksons during the last few months when they have been working from home?
As managing partner of Jacksons one of my responsibilities throughout the last year or so is to make sure that we communicate effectively with our staff, despite the fact that most of them have been working remotely. We have done this by providing regular update bulletins and fortnightly all firm communications meetings on zoom.
We have also run fitness challenges and lunchtime quizzes and other activities for staff entertainment.
We have tried to celebrate everything we would normally, but in a different way and have sent different treats to staff to acknowledge all of their hard work.
It has been a really interesting period but challenging, but I am so proud of the way the whole Jacksons team has responded.
10. Sum up why Teesside is a great place to work and live in one sentence.
Teesside is a great place to work and live because it is full of amazing people who are clever, kind, friendly, hardworking, and very welcoming.