EMMA GAUDERN heads a refreshingly welcoming law firm. Stepping into the modern, light-filled offices, smiling photographs of EMG’s team decorate the walls, and Spocky, the “Deep Space Canine”, a sculpture of a dog with a remarkable similarity to Dr Spock, tilts his head in friendly greeting.

The immediate impression is of a company with the ethos of placing people at the heart of its work. These values are key in EMG’s work in Court of Protection and Deputyships, which relates to clients who lack the capacity to manage their own property and affairs.

Emma, who has been a qualified solicitor for 20 years, first began to undertake Court of Protection work for Pannone just three years into her legal career. She thoroughly enjoyed this work and went on to practice at several leading law firms before setting up EMG Solicitors with fellow professional deputy Jemma Morland.

Emma says: “I love the challenge of running a practice and combining it with client work. They present different types of issues, which means that I get a lot of variety in my role and this keeps it interesting.

“In my client practice I really enjoy working with clients with a brain injury, empowering them to achieve their goals and safeguarding them when they are vulnerable.

“It can be hard to strike a balance between maximising someone’s independence and protecting them from making a mistake, but we strive to hit the sweet spot as often as we can.”

Emma adds: “My favourite thing about managing the firm is probably quite similar – I love it when I can help colleagues develop fulfilling careers. I guess I would like to say that we try to create ‘joyful employment’.

“That might be a big ask, but I believe that when you spend so much time working, you have to be happy in what you do.

“As a result, we have a strong team that pulls together – both for each other and for our clients. I could not wish for more from any member of the firm and for that I am extremely grateful.”

EMG, based on Abbeywoods Business Park in Durham, specialises in family law, wills, trusts and probate services, residential conveyancing and commercial property. The team has grown to 37m and the firm is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Today, EMG’s Court of Protection team is the largest independent department of its kind in the North-East, and for the fourth year running, EMG is a prestigious Legal 500 firm.

It has relationships with charities across the UK. In November, EMG organised its fourth WonderLAN Ball, which raised £10,000 for the national brain injury charity Headway.

Emma is also a supporter of a diverse range of local and national charities in various trustee roles. She contributes her expertise to the development board for Lumiere 2019, of which EMG is a sponsor.

EMG first supported Lumiere in 2017, when the company sponsored Our Moon, an installation that was projected onto the walls of Durham Castle. Our Moon was underpinned by a community engagement programme centred on storytelling and imagination, and featured the faces of local people.

  • Organised by Artichoke, Lumiere is the UK’s largest light festival. The tenth year anniversary edition of Lumiere will come to Durham from November 14 – 17 this year.

Favourite North-East building and why?

It’s not a building but I do love the Angel of the North. Also, I am lucky enough to be able to see Durham Cathedral from my house, which is just the most awe-inspiring place.

What was your first job and how much did you get paid?

A papergirl – saving up money for my school summer holiday. I got £3 per week.

What is the worst job you’ve had?

I used to clean university student accommodation in the summer holidays. Students really can live in pretty mucky houses! I remember vacuuming up a skeletal dead mouse from the back of a fridge.

What would you cook for me if I came around for dinner?

Good question! I do like to cook. At the moment I love Middle Eastern food - Persian, Lebanese, Israeli. Cookbooks are a total guilty pleasure.

What would your superpower be?

I’m not sure about a superpower but I really wish I could sing. I have a great memory for song lyrics – my husband is constantly amazed at the number of songs I know all the words to – and yet I can’t hold a note. It’s so unjust.

Name four people, dead or alive, who would be at your perfect dinner party.

The Queen. My, I bet she’s seen some stuff and would have great stories to tell. Amelia Earhart – a truly inspirational woman. Sharleen Spiteri from Texas – we saw them recently and it was the best concert I’ve seen in a long time. Hmmm, I need a bloke to balance things up a little – perhaps James Blunt in the hope that he would be as good a guest as he is a Twitter writer.

Most expensive thing you’ve bought - other than car or house?

I bought myself an antique bracelet not long after we set the firm up with some wages I saved up over a few months. It was really hard work to get to the point where the firm was up and running and I wanted to treat myself. It’s very pretty but I’ve broken it at least three times since I got it .

Who is the best person to follow on Twitter and why?

I am a huge fan of James Blunt – never takes himself seriously and full of brilliant comebacks.

Favourite book?

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey.

When did you last cry and why?

Last year I had to have one of my dogs put down and it was utterly heartbreaking. She was a full family member and I miss her every day.

What is your greatest achievement?

Well obviously, having my children is fabulous and I’m a really lucky mum. But I guess everyone says that. For the last four years we have run a fundraising ball (WonderLAN) in aid of a Headway activity weekend. Whenever we have the ball there is always some moment in the evening where I look around and am really proud to have had the idea of running it.

What’s the best piece of advice in business you’ve ever been given?

That in the life of a working woman, a few months maternity leave makes no difference and that we should support working parents as much as we can.

Favourite animal and why.

Dogs. Just love them. Utterly faithful, totally understanding and always ready to walk and play.

Most famous person on your mobile phone.

No-one. Do I look like I know famous people?

What was the last band you saw live?

Texas. Absolutely brilliant and a fabulous night out.

Describe your perfect night in.

Well, for a start the kids would be tired so they go to bed! Fire lit. Homemade pizza and some super-sweet pudding that makes your teeth want to fall out. Glass of wine, cuddling my dog on the sofa and watching a film with my husband.

In another life I would be...

A beekeeper. It’s my ambition to start keeping them this year. Or a falconer.

Who would play you in a film of your life

My husband says Minnie Driver – I suspect it’s the curly hair.

What irritates you?

Impressionists - I can’t bear them. And being mean to people.

What’s your secret talent?

My ability to fall asleep on a washing line – it generally takes about 30 seconds for me to fall asleep on a night time.