24 Nov 2020

Reflections – Emma looks back on her time at YESS

Somerset house sky

As Emma Webster steps down as Joint-CEO she looks back on over 6 years of hard work, from growing YESS from scratch with Camilla to where we are now, helping hundreds of clients every year.


I started this blog several times. I hate those leaving blogs that read like an obituary or an Oscars acceptance speech; thanking everyone who smiled in your general direction. However, I do want to say that I have had a terrific time working at YESS. For 6.5 years I have worked pretty hard to help people look at employment disputes differently – and generally speaking our unique approach has worked. It has definitely evolved and we are always thinking about how to adapt our approach to each individual case.

Over the years I know that I have helped 100s of individuals and organisations resolve disputes either amicably or at least with a good deal less stress than grievances and tribunal proceedings would have caused them. And the deals struck and resolutions achieved are more imaginative than most, including keeping people’s jobs, ongoing consultancy arrangements, cross country transfers and believe it or not, genuine apologies.

I have no doubt YESS will go from strength to strength in the safe hands of the team that now make up YESS. I am stepping back as Joint CEO and leaving YESS in Karen Teago’s capable sole CEO hands. Clare Fowler has joined us who we are all excited about working with. I will remain a consultant, focussing on mediations and mediation support, but the time has come to change my direction a little and step back from jointly running the organisation.

YESS is Camilla Palmer QC’s brain child which has now grown up into a strong independent adult organisation. I am not sure Camilla or I knew whether it would survive during those early days of working pro bono and building the furniture ourselves. There have been a couple of occasions where we thought it was time to call time. But with Camilla’s determination it has developed into a thriving and important organisation that provides what continues to be a unique service. We straddle the world between private legal practice and not for profit legal advice organisations, sharing our understanding and ability to work within both to great effect. Our client group encompasses a huge range of workers, including city executives, public sector workers, care workers, sales professionals and zero hour cleaners to name a mere handful. We work jointly with other charities to ensure our work reaches as wide a group as possible and I have learnt a huge amount along the way.

I am so privileged to have been able to be part of YESS’ evolution alongside all the other lawyers and colleauges who have worked here, past and present. It has always been a team effort and I have enjoyed that more than almost anything else. Even the Trustees are lovely!

So I am pleased to be keeping my connection with YESS whilst also happy to watch it continue to grow with new and exciting input from others.


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