March 29 is going to be a busy time for many, but none more so than immigration lawyer Jane Goddard. Catherine Scott reports.
Jane Goddard doesn’t regret swapping the bright lights of new York to resettle in Sheffield.
The Australian immigration lawyer now calls Sheffield her home, although when we speak she has just returned from the scorching summer temperatures in Sydney and was readjusting to freezing weather in South Yorkshire.
“The weather is one of those things that I have had to get used to, although the winters in New York can be very extreme.”
Jane had been working in her home city of Sydney when, in 2013, she was offered what she calls ‘the opportunity of a lifetime’ to live and work in New York.
“New York is a truly iconic city and life there was everything you think it would be – great food, shopping, music and theatre. Famous landmarks everywhere, steam rising from the sidewalk, celebrity spots (mostly unconfirmed, although I definitely did frequent the same gym as Hugh Jackman).
“Then there were the delightfully loud, brash New Yorkers, and 24- hour availability of pretty much everything you might want or need.
“There is a less publicised, and decidedly less glamorous side to life in the Big Apple. Stiflingly hot weather in summer, freezing cold in winter. Gridlocked traffic. Cancelled, delayed or overcrowded trains. Rubbish everywhere and the rudest cab drivers on the planet.
“The noise from construction, car horns and sirens, and New Yorkers being, well, loud and brash was almost constant.
“The only time the city quietened was when it snowed, which was quite pretty, but then the aftermath was simply ghastly – just getting to work became an epic journey negotiating piles of slippery, dirt-encrusted snow and ice. “
Over time, these less glamourous aspects of New York life took hold, says Jane and she was relieved to be offered another role, this time in Sheffield.
“I confess that I knew nothing much about Sheffield except that it had something to do with steel, was the setting for The Full Monty and was near something called the Peak District.
“It would be different from New York, I reasoned, which would probably be a good thing.”
While still in New York Jane started to make arrangements for her new life in Sheffield.
“The people I made contact with were great. Aside from the business I had to organise, they were very helpful in offering advice about where to live, which pubs to go to, and of course the weather (you better bring a jumper or two). I have found Sheffield folk genuinely friendly and helpful, and without exception have a great pride in the city and its surrounds. It is just so different from New York, wherepeople aren’t always so friendly and I felt quite isolated.”
Probably the biggest surprise to Jane was the countryside around Sheffield.
“I was not expecting the Peak District to be as breathtakingly beautiful as it is. I have taken up walking and am slowly exploring the area and was very fortunate that my first summer was a dry and sunny as it was. It is a great privilege to live so close to such an ancient landscape.”
While enjoying the countryside, Yorkshire pubs and a decent cup of tea, Jane has found some areas a little more difficult to get used to.
“I am confused as to why people eat dinner at lunchtime and tea at dinner time but aside from that I feel felt at home here. This might be because my parents are both from Nottinghamshire or perhaps because everyone I have met has been so welcoming. I still don’t fully understand the giant Yorkshire puddings with everything piled inside. They are quite tasty though – and certainly not something I could get in New York.”
The accent is another thing that Jane has had to get used to.
“I couldn’t understand a thing when I first arrived,” she admits.
“After almost a year living here I still say ‘Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that’ and pretend that I am a bit deaf in one ear. I am perplexed by in complete sentences– as in ‘I’m down pub’ not ‘I am going down to the pub’. Also, how do you respond to Y’right?’
“It does go both way though. The other day I was accused of talking Australian when I said ‘I’m bushed and going to take an early mark’.”
Jane has practiced exclusively in the area of immigration law since 1993. In recognition of her work in Australia, Jane won ‘Best Lawyer in Australia – Immigration Law’ every year between 2008 and 2014, as well as ‘Lawyer of the Year in Immigration Law – Best Lawyers’ in 2013.
Fragomen, the world’s largest immigration law firm, appointed Jane to lead the firm’s practice in Sheffield, located on Sackville Street in the city centre.
Jane previously worked as a Director in Fragomen’s USA office with responsibility for the management of major clients’ worldwide immigration programmes.
And that is one of the reasons that she would like to se Brexit sorted as soon as possible,
“All our clients want is stability,” she says. “We sort out their immigration issues, but they work 12 to 18 months in advance and they want to know that they have the staff they need.
“That is incredibly difficult when at the moment no one knows what is going to happen. We have been planning for along time. But it is going to be an interesting few months, if not years and it is a very trying time for our clients.”