Meet Jill Benbow

Last month we welcomed experienced Property Dispute Resolution Solicitor Jill Benbow to the Butcher & Barlow team.

Ever wondered what drives someone to become a lawyer? Despite being warned about the challenges and competitiveness of the legal world, and was told ‘don’t do it’, Jill was irresistibly drawn to law and has since had an illustrious career, tackling some fascinating cases and gaining herself the nickname of The Admiral.

We sat down with Jill to find out more about her life and legal career and her aspirations for the future.


Welcome to the Firm Jill! We hope you’ve settled in well?

I have, thank you, what a great team you have here, who have been so welcoming and helpful.

You’ve worked with many a law firm team in the past, have you always focused on Dispute Resolution?

Essentially yes, I started my career in litigation and through it have set up, managed and developed teams in litigation and dispute resolution, including professional negligence, construction and insolvency. I have also managed family, crime and personal injury teams. My management role has I hope, helped me to understand people and has given me the great privilege of playing my part in creating the young lawyers of the future.

You heart lies with Property Dispute Resolution though?

Yes, I always knew I wanted to get back to Property Dispute Resolution and that was why I knew this role would be perfect for me.  I have done an awful lot in my career and my life so far, and I was ready to focus on work that I could really sink my teeth into and make me happy.  I have a lot more to give – I am not finished yet…!

Going back to the start, do you remember the first time you were up before a judge?

Oh yes. I was very young and green in front of the magistrates. I couldn’t even remember how to address them. Somehow, I got my client’s son off on a conditional discharge and the father broke down in tears. To this day, I really haven’t got a clue how I did it, save to say I was honest!

You must have so many stories you could tell about the cases you’ve worked on! Any which stand out that you are able to share?

There are so many!

  • The missing diamond ring and statues in the Arrows Liquidation. We never found the ring….
  • The grounding of the Borga Tanker in Pembrokeshire docks and the transport chaos that ensued.
  • Reported in the Court of Appeal in a set of three professional negligence cases. They were running back to back and the judge decided against us in the first case. His decision really made me question if I was in the right line of work. After the judge read the second set of papers, he realised he had got it wrong and without my first case barrister, gave me leave to appeal after the second case for the first one.
  • Taking out, as a tenant’s fitting, a walk in freezer the size of a football pitch at the end of the tenancy, as opposed to conceding it had become a fixture (even though it was bolted to the floor). The other side was, understandably incandescent.
  • Having to attend the largest landfill site in Northern Europe after its clay barrier had allegedly failed in parts and the claim was that methane was escaping down the road. I still have the hard hat and flo jacket as souvenirs, since it took an entire day to get round the site.
  • Advising miners on the misspelling of pensions to them and securing their compensation. Finding myself in a smoke filled Mineworkers club trying to explain it all was an experience!
  • Commencing the lease renewal process for 126 units in a shopping centre following an Administration, and applying for interim rent on all of them.
  • Removing all of a restaurant’s furniture set out in a common area in a shopping centre at the break of dawn.
  • Forfeiting premises next to premises where the Queen was having a party at the time.
  • Obtaining work from London and Cambridge Properties after successfully opposing their claim for dilapidations against a tenant, and securing new work by way of presentations from Subway and the GLA for other teams in the firms.
  • Dealing with cross border disputes from South Africa to France, concerning the enforcement of judgements and tracing of assets.

I could go on!

Not one day is the same then!

Not at all. I am not one to get excited about a strict routine, so not knowing what is going to drop on my desk each day suits me.

When you look back at your career, what stands out as being influential in your progress?

I was told in my twenties that I didn’t have enough grey hairs to be taken seriously; wearing trousers to the office was not the done thing; and whilst I was a great lawyer, to exercise caution in my career ambitions, because I was also a women…I was also very often told that I would be fired (Lord Sugar style) if I didn’t get the answer right. This focuses one’s mind!

I have been the first female Equity Partner in two law firms, in each of their 250 year histories.

A further positive memory was being told third hand that a Partner who I thought disliked me completely had said I was the smartest lawyer that he had ever met. I think that goes to show that we should have faith in our own abilities, and not be afraid to ask for feedback if you have doubts.

On that note, what key life skills have you learnt over your career that you would pass on to a graduate just starting out?

Listen carefully to whoever is talking. Engage your brain before you open your mouth. Do not think that staying in the office all hours gets you brownie points. If you’re not well and you don’t look after yourself nothing gets better. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be honest.

And what would you say to your 15 year old self?

Enjoy the ride!

We hear you are quite the adrenaline junkie!

I am! I was a British windsurfing champion, and still enjoy that and kitesurfing, together with mountain biking. You may also find me at an open mic night doing my poetry.


We look forward to hearing some of that! Thank you for sharing with us Jill. We are pleased to have you on board.


Jill Benbow

Jill Benbow