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Meet the lawyer

Kate McLean

Kate McLean

University: University of Hull
Degree: Law (LLB Hons)
Year of qualification: 2015
Position: Managing associate
Department: Corporate
Pronouns: She/her

What attracted you to a career in law?

My Dad trained later in his career to become a solicitor (while I was at school), so I was exposed to the profession early on. It’s a career that offers a challenge and I like that no two days are the same. There’s always lots to learn and my day-to-day responsibilities are largely client facing, which I enjoy.

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

It was really important to me to focus on firms with a positive working environment and a good breadth of commercial work. Additionally, the culture of the firm was a key attribute I looked for. Ward Hadaway was an obvious choice due to these three factors.

How much work experience had you had? Why is it so important?

When I got my training contract with the firm, I’d completed three vacation schemes and was working as a paralegal at Ward Hadaway in Newcastle. I think the experience was so important, as it allowed me to truly understand the role of a trainee in a law firm and be able to demonstrate actual commercial awareness from experience.

Which departments did you train in?

I did seats in restructuring, private client, banking and corporate. Ward Hadaway offers a great breadth of seats and encourages you to try out different practice areas.

What do you wish you’d known about being a trainee before you started that you now do?

Nobody expects the final product on day one, or for you to be infallible. It’s just important to take ownership and responsibility for your actions – for example, doing your best, admitting when you’re not sure what you're doing and helping others.

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

I enjoy working with great colleagues on interesting transactions (no two are ever the same) and continuing to learn each and every day.

However, the hours can be challenging in corporate at times, as there are peaks and troughs.

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

Business development is a huge part of the role of a solicitor.  At Ward Hadaway, junior members of staff are actively encouraged to network and are given opportunities to build a network too.

What makes your firm stand out from the rest?

The people. At Ward Hadaway, you have the opportunity to work with and learn from great lawyers across all three offices, allowing you to make some really fantastic friends too.

What advice do you have for budding solicitors who are contemplating a career in law?

Try to get as much commercial work experience as possible, and always be open to other ideas and experiences. There’s a lot to be said for transferable skills, so always keep your mind open to how what you’re doing could help your career going forward.

What's the work/life balance like at your firm? How often do you have late nights/work at weekends?

Work/life balance is, on the whole, pretty good. The firm is really forward thinking in its approach to wellness generally. Late nights and weekends are the exception rather than the rule. Ultimately, there are times when it’s necessary, but there’s no expectation to be working late into the night or on the weekends otherwise.

Does your department largely work independently, in support of another dept or is it routinely supported by other depts?

Corporate is routinely supported by other departments – it’s part of what I love about the work we do. It’s rare that a transaction doesn't require support from other teams and building relationships with those teams is a hugely vital part of running a successful transaction.

Describe the firm in three words.

Ward Hadaway is a friendly, dynamic and empowering firm.

How often as a trainee were you communicating directly with clients (calls, attending meetings)?

Communication with clients will differ from department to department (purely down to the nature of the work you’re doing) but it can be daily or multiple times daily.

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

I was afforded the opportunity (on two separate occasions) to undertake a secondment at an international car manufacturer. It was a fantastic chance to engross myself in-house and support a client on both day-to-day legal matters and on a large corporate transaction.

What’s your signature dish?

A roast dinner – particularly my Yorkshire puddings, which are infamous in my family!