Samantha Jago, Family Partner at DMH Stallard writes about the importance of family and key influences in her journey to become a successful lawyer.
My mother has often said that when she saw me in my cot, with a halo of curly blond hair, she could never have imagined that one day I might become a Partner in a law firm. She finds this especially surprising against a background of my being somewhat of a ‘late’ academic developer. In primary school I was placed in a remedial group, though my parents were not made aware of this until middle school when my form teacher, Mrs. Meldrum, told them. My mother was having none of it; neither was Mrs. Meldrum. Before I knew what was what, I was out of that group.
Mrs. Meldrum went on to pay me one of the biggest compliments of my life: she proudly informed my parents that a teacher was lucky if they ever had one real success in their career and, for her, I was that success.
The drive and determination instilled in me at this young age has seen me through some difficult times. My parents separated when I was in my sixth form and I was told by school that they had lowered my predicted grades as, apparently, children going through a family breakdown tend to drop off the radar academically. However, not only did I do better than the original predicted grades, I went on to become the first female in my family to go to university and self-funded myself through my studies.
Sometimes grit isn’t always enough to get you through, and accepting the support of others is a very necessary thing. The prohibitive fees required for law college meant that I nearly passed on following my dream: the prospect of taking on more student loans when still weighed down my university debt, put me off applying. It was then that my grandparents stepped in and offered to meet the fees. I, of course, resisted but they insisted with my Granddad stating: “I have only backed winners in my life Samantha, and you’re our winner”.
At the age of 34, and heavily pregnant with my second child, I was made a Member Partner at my previous law firm. Meeting the needs of a young family whilst running a law firm wasn’t easy, but somehow I managed it. It is not lost on me that in a profession that is predominately female, only a very small percentage make it to the rank of Member Partner; women are undoubtedly still struggling to balance motherhood and the demands of a career in a workplace that is predominately geared up to meet the needs of men.
My professional journey to date has made me realise that you do not need to be the best, brightest or richest to be successful. True success really comes from a sense of peace from within, to know how to reconcile yourself with yourself. Women are not always very good at doing this, we put ourselves under extreme pressure to juggle all the balls, and are hard on ourselves when some of those balls inevitably hit the ground.
It would not be possible for me to have found my own inner peace without the support and belief that others have shown in me. That support – historic and current - has enabled me to achieve and develop into a confident and successful woman who happens to be an experienced lawyer. I hope that I am able to give that gift to others, and help them on their own journey to success – whatever that looks like.