1. Who are you and what do you do?
I am Karen Robinson, partner and head of business development and marketing.
I joined Jacksons in September 2015 and became a partner in October 2019. I spend my time between our head office in Stockton and our office in Newcastle. Marketing Executive, Caroline Noble works alongside me and she is based in our Stockton office.
Caroline and I work closely with the solicitors in the firm and arrange a wide range of business development and marketing activities to enable us to promote our services, our team, and their expertise, to people working and living in the North East of England and beyond.
2. Where did you go to school/university?
I went to primary and high school in Paisley, Scotland where I was born. In 1988 I moved to Yorkshire and worked full time whilst studying business and marketing for four years, on a part-time basis, at Leeds Beckett University. I also gained my Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications during this time.
3. What brought you to Teesside and Jacksons in particular?
In 2001 I met my husband, Peter whilst working for a national law firm based in Leeds. He is originally from County Durham and was offered an opportunity to go back and work in the North East in 2002 and I just followed him.
I wanted to work for a regional law firm where decisions are made by the people who really understand the local marketplace and not by those sitting in a head office hundreds of miles away. I had a couple of job offers at the time, but after meeting managing partner, Jane Armitage for an informal chat about the position at Jacksons and listening to what she had to say about the future plans for the business, I just wanted to be part of it.
4. What do you do to support the local community?
I am the chair of the charity committee at Jacksons. Over the last few years we have asked staff to put forward a charity for consideration for our ‘charity of the year’. All staff were invited to vote for their favourite charity and a wide range of activity was arranged to raise as much funds as possible for the charity.
In 2021, we decided to change things and have a charity of the month. To date we have organised a number of events and raised almost £4,300.00 for various charities including a keep fit night for Dementia UK, a Valentines Quiz for RNLI, a bake off, 1M steps challenge, a pub quiz and a fitness session for Middlesbrough and Stockton MIND, and a grand national sweep in support of the Association of Rural Women Determined in the Fight Against Malnutrition and we have donated Easter Eggs for food banks in the North East, .
There are plans to host a number of events during the next few months to raise funds and awareness for charities including Cancer Research, The Anthony Nolan Trust, Cash for Kids, and others to be announced.
I am part of The Girls’ Network where I mentor a girl from a local school in Teesside. The aim of this initiative is to provide career advice and support to my mentee and to help her achieve her career goals.
4. What projects have you been involved with which you are most proud to be associated with?
I led the firm through a re-brand a few years ago as I wanted to give our business legal services and personal legal services their own identity. At Jacksons, each solicitor specialises in the area of work that they practice and I wanted this to be clear whenever prospects, contacts and clients saw our branding.
Working closely with the heads of each department, I co-write awards submissions and I am really proud of our teams who have been shortlisted and won awards during the time I have been at Jacksons. Some of these include our managing partner, Jane Armitage winning the Tees Businesswomen of the Year award in 2020, the firm winning Business of the Year award at Tees Businesswomen Awards in 2019, our commercial property team winning Insider Property Awards North East, Property Firm of the Year Award in 2018 and we are the only law firm in Teesside to have won the Law Firm of the Year, Property twice at the Northern Law Awards.
I project manage the tender process at Jacksons. Working closely with the heads of department I co-write our tender bid submissions and in the last three years we have had 100% success rate when tendering for new work.
4. What do you do to keep in touch with the business community in the area?
I have been meeting with my peers and contacts regularly on Zoom. This has been really helpful during the last 12 months whilst we have been in lockdown. We have shared ideas and best practice and really, just check in on each other to make sure that everything is ok.
We have continued to host our business events during lockdown, albeit virtually on Zoom. In addition, we launched a monthly event for young professionals in October 2020 called The NEtwork, to help them build up their network of contacts and invite speakers along to offer tips and advice to help them as they progress their career. I’m very excited to re-launch our networking events; The Secret Tower in Newcastle and TS18 in our Stockton office in September.
In addition to the charity events mentioned above, we organised virtual social events to give everyone a bit of light relief during the pandemic including an afternoon tea, a murder mystery event and a pub quiz.
7. What have you done to support staff at Jacksons during the last few months when they have been working from home?
It has been really important to have regular meetings with Caroline during lockdown so we meet every week on Zoom to discuss current workloads and to plan ahead. However, I was able to catch up with Caroline over coffee this week and seeing her face to face really made a difference.
Along with other members of the team, I organised various fitness challenges. This included a ‘walk’ between Stockton and London to ‘meet’ Boris’s new baby. It certainly brought out the competitive streak in some of our staff!
One of the priorities at Jacksons is to make sure everyone is ok so we regularly pick up the phone for a quick chat with colleagues from both offices.
8. Sum up why Jacksons is a great place to work in one sentence.
Opportunities for all; as far as I am concerned, there is no other firm like it!