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Manchester Legal Awards Outstanding Achievement Award: Joy Kingsley, JMW Solicitors LLP

Special Reports

Joy Kingsley was this year’s recipient of the lifetime achievement award. She speaks to Shelina Begum.


The senior partner at the Manchester city centre firm has enjoyed nearly 40 years in the legal sector and shows no signs of slowing down.

Kingsley’s career started at Pannone as an articled clerk in 1978 where she became a salaried partner in 1983 and managing partner in 1995.

Her career at Pannone was hugely successful, with multimillion pound increases in turnover, but, in 2010, she decided the time was right for a change.

In a move that surprised the industry, Kingsley joined JMW and with her went her experience and exceptional contacts, practically rubber-stamping the accumulation of new work for the firm.

At JMW she has been instrumental in the firm’s growth. In May last year, the firm announced that income was up from £19.4m to £22.5m. Overall revenues have increased 118% in the last five years. Headcount at the firm has also increased substantially with staff numbers rising from 275 to 330 in the last year.

The firm has also been successful in attracting a number of Manchester’s top talent including Michael Kennedy, commercial litigation (Slater and Gordon), Paul Breen, serious Injury (Cassell Moore) and Cara Nuttall, family (Slater and Gordon).

The founding partners of LHS Solicitors, Ian Lewis and Graham Small, joined the fast-growing city centre firm JMW last September, while Ward Hadaway’s head of the family department, Michael Chapman, was also poached a few weeks later.

Kingsley has an impressive record of professional recognition, including recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For Awards, one of the Women of the Year 2010 and one of the Ten Most Innovative Lawyers in the UK by the FinancialTimes in 2007.

At JMW, her particular range of expertise is management and business development. A non-executive director and shareholder of I-COM 9I-COM International, a company providing web and search engine services, Kingsley, says she ‘loves to work’ and is a keen supporter of emerging talent. She is senator of Manchester Junior Chamber of Commerce and a governor of Manchester Grammar School.

On receiving the award, Kingsley said: “This was a big surprise and a huge honour as this award is very highly regarded in Manchester’s legal market. There have been some inspirational winners of this award in the past, many I regard as mentors, so to receive this is a great honour.”

Asked about her view in the legal profession today, Kingsley said: “It’s a profession that doesn’t stand still, you’ve always got to be moving onwards and upwards.”

She continues: “There will always be a requirement for legal services, so we need to make sure we always have a client base that can support you and vice versa. To do this, we are constantly adding new products and growing our services. “

And if something does go wrong, you’ve got enough going right that it will counteract it.”

Technology and innovation also play a huge part in the firm’s development, but Kingsley will be the first to say that people always come first.

“Our people drive innovation,” says Kingsley. “We like to do a lot of diferent things that might be connected to technology or not. We certainly do a lot of work on our website and obtain a lot of work from it, but equally other projects such as Barn Door, for which we won in the innovation category, is a great example of how the firm is innovative. We are also currently investing heavily in a new project that will help people reach us even more as we’re always looking at ways we can do business and engage with our clients.”

Asked about career highlights, Kingsley says there’s been many. “There have been lots, that’s how it has to be when you’ve had a long career and I’ve been
working in law in Manchester since 1978,” she says. “There’s been some great moments in both Pannone and JMW.

“Currently I’m really pleased with how JMW is doing. Everything has been going better than planned, we have brought in some really good people who have
performed really well’

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