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Meet the lawyer

Evie Elsbury

Evie Elsbury

Year of qualification: 2020
Position: Associate
Department: Professional indemnity
Pronouns: She/her/hers


What attracted you to a career in law?

The reason I chose a career in law is honestly down to my mum. She was a benefits appeals officer for Leeds City Council and she pushed me towards the legal profession because she thought it’d suit me and that I’d enjoy it – plus, you should always listen to your mum!

Why solicitor not barrister?

I actually didn’t choose either. I’m a chartered legal executive so I qualified via the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX). For me, it was a great way in because it meant I got all the education and experience without any of the student fees. DWF, and what was Triton before it was acquired by DWF, paid for my education, which was invaluable. It was a tough apprenticeship, which took about five years to complete but I don’t have any regrets about entering the profession this way.

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

I mentioned previously that my mum worked for Leeds City Council and there was a job on the local intranet, which was advertising for a legal apprenticeship with the law firm Triton (previously Robin Simon LLP). I went for an interview for the apprenticeship when I was 19 – it was intense but it all worked out for the best.

How was your apprenticeship structured?

My apprenticeship was split into four years of exams and two years of qualifying employment – one of those years overlapped with the final year of study. The first two years was a level three qualification, which involved a variety of legal subjects. The last two years was a level six qualification, so equivalent to a degree, and we were able to specialise at this stage. I completed modules in contract law, tort, employment law and civil litigation, alongside various coursework units.

After that year, we had our graduation which was nice because even though I didn’t go to university, I still got the cap and gown moment.

In the final year of qualifying employment, I had to prepare a portfolio and CILEX set various objectives that you must meet to qualify as a Chartered Legal Executive. After submitting the portfolio, CILEX signed it off and I then qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive.   

Please outline your area of expertise. What might you do in a typical day?

My area of expertise is professional indemnity insurance and professional negligence. The way I describe this area to most people is that it works a bit like car insurance (e.g., if you’re in a car accident, you’d make a claim on your insurance) – that is, the clients I deal with have been accused of being negligent, they’ll then notify their insurer who’ll respond and instruct us, being DWF, as panel solicitors to deal with the claim.

I’m involved in a wide variety of cases because it’s professional negligence; for example, one minute I can be dealing with a dentist, an accountant or a solicitor; the next it might be an architect or IT professional. It’s the variety that I enjoy because I never see the same thing twice – it’s enjoyable and I’m glad I picked it as my specialism.

Please discuss a current/recent specific deal/case, outlining your role in the matter.

I’m handling my own files now and have been for quite a long time. I generally work with a director or partner at DWF and I do the day-to-day handling of any files. I was recently at a mediation in Bristol on an accountant’s negligence matter relating to alleged negligent advice on a tax avoidance scheme. It was a fascinating case. There were some really interesting allegations about secret commissions, for example, and it was settled at mediation.

What do you most/least enjoy about your career and why?

I mostly enjoy the variety – I think that some work can get a bit ‘samey’ but I never have that. I’m always working on something interesting and new, in a different area of law and there are always slight nuances to things that I might not have seen before. No two professionals are the same, so the cases are never the same because, for example, accountants deal with a variety of clients themselves.

In terms of what I enjoy the least, I’d say that the job can be quite stressful and demanding; for example, there’s a lot of time pressure associated with last-minute court deadlines and instructions where you have a defence due in three days. There’s always a lot of pressure to deal with those quickly – if my clients miss a court deadline, they’ll get a judgment against them and they could be left holding the bill for a lot of money.   

How involved are you with business development and promoting the firm?

I’m very lucky when it comes to business development – in fact, I’m going to some business development drinks after this chat. My boss has always been very keen to get me involved in that side of the business; I’ve had trips to Dublin and have been all over the country to meet clients. The firm is very supportive and keen for me, as a junior, to meet other juniors in other places because they say the people you meet now will be the people you follow through your career. It’s good to get to know people now because we can grow together.

What makes your firm stand out from the rest?

I really enjoy working for DWF. The firm has been really supportive of my career. It’s always been made clear to me that I’ll be backed as far as I want to go and there’s also a very good work/life balance. So, even though the job is quite demanding, the firm supports its members of staff, having won awards since 2018 regarding Working Families charity and how well the policies adapt to working life.

What skills/strengths do you need to be a successful solicitor in professional indemnity?

You need to be dedicated because law is difficult. Sometimes it helps to be a little bit stubborn because, ultimately, when you’re a defendant lawyer, you must be able to put forward a strong case because some claimant firms can be quite aggressive. In that sense, it takes a little bit of gumption to be able to stand up and back your client in these situations.

What’s the wider culture like?

We have a really healthy culture at DWF. We’re encouraged to get involved in corporate, social, responsibility and we get two volunteer days a year to go and volunteer at local charities. I’ve been lucky enough this year to spend a day at a baby bank in Leeds, which was nice because instead of dealing with angry emails, I was sorting through baby clothes.

There are also sports teams – I personally don’t do a lot of sports, so it’s a bit lost on me, but I know the firm has netball tournaments and the professional indemnity team has a football team that plays regularly in a five-a-side league. We also have a young professionals group, which circulates events every few months and encourages you to go out in your local area to meet people in different professions.

Describe the firm in three words.

Welcoming, upcoming and inclusive.

What’s the biggest opportunity you’ve been given since joining the firm?

The biggest opportunity I’ve had since joining the firm has been the opportunity to go in-house on secondments to insurers. I’ve been lucky enough to work in-house at two different insurers for a period of about 18 months across my career. There’s a nice element to my job where, while we’re doing the law and it’s professional negligence, there’s also the insurance side to consider – and we’re often instructed to advise on commercial coverage disputes, for example. It’s nice to see how the insurance world works from an in-house perspective because it gives you a whole new way of working and dealing with your files when you understand what it is the insurance client really needs to know. It’s definitely benefited my career.

Where is your dream holiday destination?

My dream holiday destination, at the moment, is actually Lapland. I’m getting married next year so we’re planning a honeymoon in Lapland.