Two weeks on from the biggest British Wills and Probate Awards, sponsored by CTT Group, ever hosted there is still a warm afterglow around social media as firms continue to stoke the embers of their success on the night.
One of the most prestigious awards on the night is the Today’s Wills and Probate Industry Champion, sponsored by Arken.legal. The award is unique in that it is nominated for, and voted for, by you, the wills and probate community. As a champion of the unregulated will writing, solicitor, and probate communities, Today’s Wills and Probate invites nominations from across the sector; recognising individuals who have made a significant contribution to the life and times of the sector over the last 12 months.
This year’s nominations were top drawer, with Helen Claydon, Head of Legal for Fidelis Legal Services, nominated alongside LawSkills founder and long-time legal trainer Gill Steel and Holly Chantler, Head of Department at Morr & Co.
The final vote went down to the wire with Helen ultimately identified by a public vote as this year’s industry champion, announced live at The British Wills and Probate Awards 2023. The comments on Helen’s nomination are a fantastic tribute to her work with comments including
- Helen is selfless and continues to invest in her Team and those around her creating a team of experts, empowering those around her and imparting her knowledge and experience
- It is Helen’s mission statement that we as a profession have an obligation to the consumer to ensure that no one in society is prevented from having access to justice. Helen works tirelessly to promote legal services within socio demographic groups that feel alienated and not able to get access to legal advice
- From humble beginnings, Helen has grown the team organically to a team of over 45 legal professionals. Through Helens hard work and determination, the group has offered those services to over 170,000 customers to plan for their loved ones, achieving a 5-star Trust Pilot rating
Today’s Wills and Probate sat down with Helen to discuss her success and thoughts on the current state of the industry.
Who are you and what do you do
I had a slightly unconventional route into law having completed a law degree as a mature student in 2007. Although I completed the legal practice course I had actually changed my mind about becoming a solicitor by the time I had finished it. Instead, I completed the CLC Licensed Conveyancer course followed immediately by their Licensed Probate Practitioner qualification. I then completed the STEP Diploma having firmly decided my future career would be purely in private client and property law.
I am now co-founder and Chief Legal Officer of HAIG Legal Group. The other group founders and I have worked together for the last 10 years building the Group and its companies to be what it is today. I’m extremely proud of what we have achieved between us!
Why did you choose to go into wills and probate law? What is your passion for wills and probate?
As a law graduate I took a role with the Society of Will Writers and I am extremely grateful for the challenge that the role gave me. Working with Society members quickly showed me the variety of people working in the industry and ignited my passion for trying to support the industry as a whole while ensuring that consumer choice is retained in a way that also offers protection for the clients.
I have carried this forward when building and growing our own businesses and still strive to make legal services accessible to a wide group of society. My work with introducers and fellow business owners in the industry remains one of the favourite parts of my ‘job’.
How does it feel to have been nominated, and voted for, by the wills and probate community for this award?
When I was notified of my nomination I was genuinely surprised and being shortlisted for the final three was mind blowing! It was such a compliment to be recognized by the judges as making a considerable contribution to the industry, especially being named alongside two other incredible women.
Winning the award is the highlight of my career so far. The fact it is voted on by the wills and probate community is hugely flattering. It is so reassuring to know what I do has a positive impact on others and it motivates me to keep going!
What do you see as the challenges for the industry over the next 12 months
The next 12 months could be significant in the sector, particularly in will writing, and I think the industry is braced ready for the outcome of the CMA investigation. Whether you are regulated or unregulated currently the recommendations, and ultimately the proposals, that flow from the investigation will have an impact on everyone.
Having seen the issues in the will writing industry being investigated the first time around, with no action, I’m really hoping that there are some sensible and well thought out solutions this time.