Q&A with Jill Greenfield

Fieldfisher partner Jill Greenfield has been shortlisted for Women Lawyer of the Year in the Excellence Awards 2018.

You're talking to a friend of a friend at a party. How do you describe what you do?

With difficulty - everyone has a view as to personal injury lawyers, so I try to stay quiet!

What was the most interesting case you've worked on?

The case for a young boy, brain damaged following a trip to an open farm and exposed to E Coli 0157. We won but it was incredibly tough. There have been so many cases dealing with people who have suffered brain damage, spinal cord injury and amputation. For these people, losing simply isn't an option.

A civil rape trial, which we also won, was also fascinating in content and incredibly satisfying to win. My client was a victim of serious sexual assault, and the criminal case could not proceed as the perpetrator has since died. A civil claim for rape is unusual. The perpetrator rarely has sufficient funds to make a claim worthwhile pursuing. This defendant had a large estate.

Thankfully, the evidence at trial - provided by women worldwide who we either flew into London or gave evidence by video link - persuaded the court that the events had occurred as my client described. She was believed. I remember watching her give evidence and the witnesses giving evidence in a closed court (away from public view) to protect their identities. Their bravery was remarkable and the evidence of predatory behaviour compelling.

Standing up for these women in the face of what was a fully defended case was why I studied law. It was a privilege to represent the victim and it taught me that no challenge is too big and that no individual is immune from the rule of law. It was about righting a wrong and I felt we did that.

Do you prefer to work with clients or be in court?

Both. Clients are at the core of my work. Finding out what makes people tick is key and helping them put their lives back together a privilege. But going into court is essential and persuading a court as to the merits of a case is fantastic.

What was your first job?

Working behind the chemist counter at Boots in Tunstall on a Saturday, which was rather better than working in the bar at Port Vale supporters club, my Friday night job.

Career highlight?

Too tricky to answer but winning a civil rape case at trial was very satisfying.

Sunrise or sunset?

Sunset. I've only ever seen sunrise if it's been a particularly long evening!

What's in your desk drawers?

I have no idea - I've not been in them for a very long time.

Share some great advice you've been given.

At some point in your career a whole load of rubbish will land at your door and you will have to sort it out. Just accept it.

Can you recommend a local lunch or coffee spot?

You think I have time for lunch?

How do you relax?

Watching the Great British Bake Off - no blood spilled and the worst that can happen is a cake doesn't rise.

What's your pet hate?

My husband's taste in music. He's very Gilbert and Sullivan. I am much more David Bowie and rock music. They say opposites attract.

Favourite city?

London. I came here 23 years ago and never looked back. As a girl from a working class family in Stoke and who family had either been down a coal mine or in the pottery factory, the bright lights of London never fail to excite.

What book is on your bedside table?

A Warhammer fantasy book; it's my 11-year-old son's and he regales me with characters such as 'Gut Ripper'.

How would you spend your last £5?

Probably on a Warhammer figure for my son, although the one he'll want will inevitably cost more than £5.

Favourite TV box set?

House, the early seasons. All personal injury lawyers fancy themselves as doctors.

Seaside or mountains?

Definitely seaside - far too cold up a mountain. It goes back to Blackpool illuminations being a real treat as a child, although we never in fact got out of the car and the windows always seemed to be steamed up.

Hidden talents?

I can do a great karaoke, but don't tell anyone . . .

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