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A day in the life of...

Emma Cartledge-Taylor

Emma is a planning solicitor with experience acting for developers, landowners, local authorities and lenders. Emma has a depth of experience in preparing and managing planning appeals (particularly at inquiry) along with applications for judicial review and section 288 challenges in the High Court and Court of Appeal. Emma expertise also includes drafting and negotiating section 106 agreements, section 278 agreements, section 38 agreements and infrastructure agreements.

Emma was recently elected as Vice Chair for the West Midlands branch of Women in Planning and will take on the Chair role in September 2020.

What does your typical working day look like? My day starts…

At the moment, it starts with a sleepy walk to my computer to turn it on while I go and make some breakfast and a cup of green tea. With my breakfast and cup of tea, I catch up on the news, Linked In and social media before sitting down at my work station to start my day. I say work station as in reality, my “office” is now half of my dining room table and various other surfaces! During work ...

Ordinarily, I have a commute which involves a lengthy train journey, but my commute has reduced significantly to the distance between my bedroom and the lounge/dining room where I am now working! I am working full time and still busy but as with many I am having to adjust to working at home full time. My team has a virtual coffee break every day and this has been really great for keeping in touch. We have also arranged some fun challenges to do in the evening and weekends such as guessing who’s who from baby pictures and taking pictures of our homes for a “Through the Keyhole” challenge. For me trying to keep to some form of routine (however flexible) has so far really helped me while working at home. After work ...

For the first few weeks that I was working at home I was finding myself logging in really early and staying online until much later than I normally would. I have started to be much stricter with this to try and ensure that work and home are kept separate – or as separate as possible at this time. I will normally log off around 6pm, after this I will then have a workout in our little home gym or go for a walk with my husband (unless I have already had my walk for the day at lunchtime!). On an evening ...

I try and use my evenings the same way I did before the lockdown. After the gym/walk, my husband and I will sit down for dinner and a catch up about our day. We will then usually sit down and watch some TV. We have family scattered all over the UK, Ireland, Europe and Australia and since lockdown began, we have scheduled video chats with various groups of family members over the weekday evenings. It is a really nice way to catch up and keep in touch.

How do you unwind on an evening or weekend? For me unwinding whether in the evening or at weekends involves some form of exercise. After a busy day or at the weekend when I have no time constraints, going to my little home gym and working out really helps me to clear my head and unwind (as strange as that may sound!). Don’t get me wrong, I have also binge watched plenty of Netflix and Amazon Prime shows since being in lockdown but working out and exercise will always be my first port of call! What is your favourite/most rewarding project you have worked on? The most rewarding projects are planning appeals, whether that is a s.78 appeal or later in the Planning Court. The appeal process can be a lengthy one, a lot of time and effort goes into preparing for planning appeals and in particular inquiries can be listed to run for weeks. Getting the desired result after all of the hard work is really rewarding and it is a great feeling when you can tell your client they have the result they wanted. What are the best and worst bits about your job? The best part of my job is the range of work I am able to do, I split my time between planning litigation (planning appeals, judicial review and statutory challenges in the Planning Court and upwards) and the non-contentious side of planning such as s.106 agreements and other infrastructure agreements, general planning advice, due diligence etc. I really love the variety of work I get to do. The worst bits about my job? To be honest I struggle with this answer because I do really enjoy what I do. I suppose the less enjoyable but very necessary part of my job is the administrative aspects of matters – I don’t think anyone enjoys this, but it must be done! Who has had the biggest influence on your career and why? There are two people who together have had the biggest influence on my career and these are the partners I predominantly work for at Shoosmiths; Tim Willis and Anna Cartledge. They were the people who first introduced me to planning back when I was a paralegal and still studying for my law degree and who offered me a job as a Planning Solicitor when I qualified. They are experts in their field and have a wealth of knowledge and experience that I am constantly trying to learn from. They have also created and provided an environment which enables me to learn and develop, where no question is silly and where support is always given if needed. What is the best bit of advice you have received in your career? One of the best bits of advice was being made aware about the importance of my own personal profile, both within my firm and externally. To me the word “career” encompasses much more than my day to day job and this gives rise to considering what I want to do internally at Shoosmiths which isn’t directly related to my job but also what it is that I want to see from the wider legal and planning industry. An example is that I want to see gender equality in the planning industry and this led me to joining the Women in Planning West Midlands Committee to take an active role in pursuing this goal. What is your favourite place? I have a couple but one which will always be special is Malta. I got married in Mdina and love the capital, Valetta.

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