Gillian is actively involved in a wide range of local and national professional groups. She regularly attends meetings of the local branches of both Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and is a full member of both nationally. Both professional groups are widely recognised as indicators of specialist knowledge and experience in these areas of practice.
Bournemouth STEP was founded in the mid 1990s and Gillian was one of the first members. She served on the committee for several years. She finds the regular branch meetings valuable, both as a source of excellent updates on the law and to meet other lawyers and accountants in her field. “We don’t usually have another ‘side’ in the sort of work I do”, she says, “so we don’t get to talk to and meet other practitioners in our day to day work. It’s good to get together and compare notes on tricky areas of practice, as well as having other trusted specialists to call on if, for example, some independent advice to a member of a client’s family is needed”.
Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) is a much newer organisation than STEP and, again, Gillian was in at the start of the South Central branch in 2003. She was on the committee until 2011 and describes SFE as focussing more on the ’soft, feeling areas’ of her practice. Issues to do with mental capacity and decision making, choices and eligibility in care provision and safeguarding vulnerable adults are all at the heart of an SFE solicitor’s workload and members have the benefit of a dedicated discussion forum, a monthly newsletter and frequent training events, locally and nationally.
Gillian is also a lay member of the Poole Hospital NHS Trust Clinical Ethics Committee, which gives her a fascinating insight into issues of choice and decision making from the medical viewpoint as well as the opportunity to influence their thinking with the lawyer’s perspective. She is also actively involved in the initiative to set up a Compassionate Community for Dorset, which brings together people from all walks of life and various professional backgrounds, with the aim of developing greater understanding of the role community plays where end of life is concerned. She is a supporter of the Dying Matters Community which aims to get everyone to talk openly about their end of life wishes