She may have ‘stumbled’ into the world of law, but Judy Barfoot says it’s an arena which immediately had her ‘hooked’.
Passionate about family, and a supporter of many charities and causes, she explains what she loves about life at Gotelee, and how she took time to learn first-hand about the needs of those with dementia.
How long have you been at Gotelee Solicitors?
I have been with Gotelee (and its predecessor firms) for just over 20 years (with a six month break in 1999).
What was your prior practising or educational experience which brought you to Gotelee?
My husband and I, together with our two daughters who were 5 and 3 at the time, moved to Suffolk from the south coast in 1994. I worked for another firm of solicitors in Woodbridge for three and a half years, and then moved to Hubbard & Co (one of Gotelee’s predecessor firms) in September 1997. Prior to that, I was working for a law firm in Dorset, and previously a different law firm in Hampshire. I have also worked for a law firm in Leyburn, North Yorkshire.
Had you always wanted to go into law?
I actually drifted into working in law simply because I returned from living abroad and was looking for work. I started working for a law firm in Romsey in Hampshire as a secretary, and was immediately “hooked”. I have worked my way up through the ranks, being trained by and working with some exceptionally knowledgeable and astute lawyers!
Tell me a little about the area of specialism you have at Gotelee?
Over the years I have tried my hand at most areas of law, but Private Client is where my heart is. My specialism now is Wills and Powers of Attorney, but I have many years experience in probate matters as well.
And what are the key issues concerning that field of law which are particularly significant for businesses / individuals at the moment?
Tax is of course always a major concern for most people. A properly drafted Will can help to legitimately shelter people’s assets from being lost to tax.
Do you see a ‘typical’ kind of client at the firm?
Definitely not. That’s what makes this work so interesting. Every client has different views, different family dynamics, different assets etc.
What’s been your greatest career moment to date?
I honestly can’t say there is any one specific moment. My career has been a gradual progression. There have been a lot of highlights though. One of those highlights, whilst only indirectly related to my work here, was spending four years caring for people with dementia in a local care home. I gave up working in the office on Tuesdays and went to the care home instead, and also went to the care home every Sunday. It gave me an invaluable insight into this terrible disease and the impact it has not only on the person themselves, but all those close to them. All of the Private Client team here at the Woodbridge office have now become “Dementia Friends” after completing a Dementia Awareness Course.
What makes Gotelee such a special place to work?
We have an incredibly knowledgeable and professional team in all areas. Everyone is very supportive of each other. Here at the Woodbridge office, we all have a great relationship which makes for a very happy working environment, and I believe this becomes obvious to clients as soon as they get to know us. I believe we have built up a loyal client base and a reputation for expertise and professionalism in the area.
You’ll now be part of the new Woodbridge team at Deben Mill. What do you love most about that area of Suffolk?
It’s so diverse, the river, the forest, being not far from the coast. Woodbridge itself is a lovely town and has so much to offer people living and working here.
What do you like to do outside of work?
My family take up most of my time! I have two daughters and three young grandchildren and my greatest pleasure is spending as much time with them all as I can! My husband and I love to travel – particularly on a cruise ship!
Do you support any particular charities or causes?
I sponsor a young man in Indonesia through the charity “Compassion”. I also sponsor a “child mother” and her baby in Kenya through charitable work that some friends of mine are doing there. I also make regular payments to Water Aid – there is no life without water! Cancer charities are also particularly close to my heart, especially as my younger daughter works in this field.
How should anyone interested in your expertise make contact with you?
I am happy to speak to prospective clients on the telephone (01394 388605), or via email if they prefer (firstname.lastname@example.org).