Iain Douglas is colourful, flamboyant and totally and utterly professional. Celebrating 40 years at Wollens Iain is a legal Executive in the Care and Protection Team . Outside office hours he is hugely well-known and just as well-respected as South Devon’s ‘Mr Theatre.’ He has spent just as many years in the world of local amateur theatre directing plays and musicals locally.
Iain’s job entails helping and advising people at the most sensitive times of their lives, running their affairs as their power of attorney or appointing others when they are unable to do so themselves.
It is also where Iain’s abilities as a performer, or knowing how to perform, can sometimes come into play so he can make what can be challenging and difficult circumstances for his clients much easier and less stressful.
It goes without saying that Iain is professional and genuine when dealing with his clients and he treats them as individuals.
But he adds: “My ability to perform also helps me with my clients and the service I can provide for them.
“You have to come across as confident. If you hm and ha and hesitate you give the impression you don’t know what you are doing. You are not going to build a rapport. If we are asking people to make difficult decisions, you have to make them feel comfortable.”
People are at heart of his work. He says: “If you like helping other people go into private client work.”
Iain is an Associate member of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives. He is part of Wollens’ Elder Client Team within the Private Client Department managing clients’ personal affairs under Powers of Attorney and deputyships, creating Lasting Powers of Attorney. He also deals with tax affairs (income tax, CGT, self-employment tax).
He was born and bred in Brixham and went to Churston Grammar Schol before starting his first job in the cashier’s department of a law firm in Totnes.
He joined then Hooper and Wollen at the age of 22 and at first worked in the tax, mortgage and private rent department from our original offices on The Terrace in Torquay.
He says: “At school I wanted to be a specialist librarian, not just working in libraries but specialising in a specific subject like geography.
“I was going to go to university but one of my A-levels was not of the grade needed. Rather than go to a polytechnic, I decided to get a job.
“I am glad I did because by the time my peers had come back out of university, I had been working two or three years.”
Between 2002 and 2013 he ran the Wollens’ Torbay Law Shop, a drop-in centre for legal advice housed at the Terrace offices with any clients unable to be helped sent upstairs to see the lawyers.
Iain explains: “It was a period when Legal Aid was widely available. When it declined, we stopped the advice centre and I moved into the care team.”
That’s where he has spent the rest of his career looking after people’s personal affairs practising under the Mental Capacity Act.
He reveals: “It is very busy at the moment, manically busy especially since Covid. Busier than I have ever been. The care and protection teams in other law firms are also extremely busy.
“Why? You have an increasingly elderly population living longer. There are more people with dementia and living with it who need people to help them out. “Covid has also given people a better understanding of the need for having something in place if they become ill or cannot manage their own affairs.”
Iain’s main interest away from work is in local theatre, where he is heavily involved as a performer and as a director, staging major musicals and pantomimes at various local venues including the Princess Theatre. He is also the South Devon representative for the National Operatic and Dramatic Association.
Iain says: “It all fits in nicely with my work. I have been it since was a teenager. One of the teachers at Churston was involved with the Brixham society and persuaded me to join.
“My mum was in the Brixham Ladies Choir and I went to see some Brixham shows I enjoyed them and thought ‘I want to do that’. The teacher was the real catalyst.”
He has been involved with Paignton Pantomime Productions since 1978 and has directed them for the past 26 years. He has been with TOADS Stage Musical Company since 1978 and has been their director since 2006 and he has directed the last 16 musicals for Newton Abbot and District Musical Comedy Society.
His first show was The Merry Widow in 1978 and is he now involved in three or four a year – Cinderella at the Palace Theatre in Paignton this Christmas is the latest.
Iain has a flat in Torquay but lives with his partner of 16 years in Tavistock. Hybrid working with some days in the office and others at home helps especially with the cost of fuel.
He is enjoying life in our purpose built new offices, part of the Torwood Street regeneration project, and says “We have new offices with a lovely cafe area and there is really no need to go out. I love the new offices and agile working. I am one of the older staff members but I cope with change very well.
“I am loving it. You can sit in a different place every instead of being ensconced in rooms. It is much more sociable.”
Head of department Katrina Vollentine said of Ian: “He is an absolute pleasure to work with. His professionalism and enthusiasm to do a great job really do make him a great member of the team. His ‘stage presence’ is less about acting but more about being the best version of himself, whatever he is doing. He continues to provide solid, well considered, and appropriate advice to all kinds of different clients. He has great empathy and will always go the extra mile in order to make a positive difference to someone’s life.”
Iain is 62 now and enjoys his ‘perfect’ work/life balance.
“I have always liked and enjoyed the people I work with. I like the bosses. It has always been a great place to work – I love coming to work.”