Weightmans LLP

Richard Burrows
Weightmans LLP

Weightmans LLP

University: University of Liverpool
Degree: 2010
Year of qualification: 2015
Position: Solicitor
Department: Disease

What attracted you to a career in law?

I really enjoyed subjects such as English literature at school because I liked analysing language and looking into different interpretations of various texts. When it came to picking my A levels, I chose to study law. As part of this I learnt about the different career paths within law and thought this would be something I would enjoy. I obtained work experience in a small firm of solicitors and also in a set of barristers’ chambers, and decided that a career in law was something I wanted to pursue.

Why solicitor not barrister?

One of the key reasons that I was ultimately attracted to the solicitors’ profession was the added job security that comes with the role. As a solicitor you are paid a regular salary, in contrast barristers are self-employed and are always wondering when the next case is going to come in, while they can also wait for months to be paid for work they have done.

Another factor that was central to my thinking was that I didn’t want to miss out on a wide range of highly interesting work. Some of the most interesting cases do not go to court or require counsel’s advice, so there are plenty of great cases where a barrister never needs to get involved.

How did you decide which firms to apply to?

Having studied in Liverpool and Manchester, I knew that I wanted to work in the North West, as I had become aware of the wide range of firms which are based and located here. I had a vague idea of the sort of work I wanted to do, so looked into what firms had strengths in those areas and researched them further. I also used law fairs as a way of speaking with people who already worked at those firms, such as current and past trainees, to get more of an insight into what those firms were like to work in.

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

I gained some brief work experience during my A levels at a firm of solicitors and a barristers’ chambers. I later undertook two vacation schemes, one of which was at Weightmans.

I had also always had some form of part-time employment and I believe that this is something which firms value in applicants. A willingness to work even when studying is something which adds value to applications and provides you with examples and experience with which to illustrate any applications made.

Which departments did you train in?

Commercial insurance, construction and disease.

Please discuss a specific deal/case that you were involved with, outlining your role in the matter.

I worked on an interesting transaction involving the First Street, Manchester real estate development, where I assisted a team of two senior fee earners and a partner. I was responsible for assisting in the management of documentation involved in the project, which extended to many thousands of pages. This meant maintaining a comprehensive inventory of the documents involved and ensuring that certified copies of the same had been uploaded electronic for easy access by the external parties involved in the project. I also had to ensure that documents were set up and in place at the front end of the project to the satisfaction of numerous stakeholders.

How does the qualification process work at the firm?

Trainees can apply for roles within the firm from their third seat onwards. I applied for my own newly qualified position in the final months of my third seat, and then spent my fourth seat in the team where I would be qualifying.

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

I work in the disease team in our Liverpool office. My own caseload comprises of litigated noise-induced hearing loss claims, but I also assist senior members of the team with higher value respiratory claims.

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

I am currently working on a high-value mesothelioma claim where we are seeking to recover sums from other companies who exposed the deceased to asbestos. The case concerns wartime exposure to asbestos, so locating insurers is difficult.

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

I enjoy the fast pace, complexity and responsibility involved in being a solicitor. However, there is a flipside to this which is that sometimes it can feel like there are not enough hours in the day to get everything done!

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

Very much so – we are always encouraged to take part in networking opportunities, including the internal networking events called Weightmans Wednesdays which are open to everyone in the firm, and which take place frequently throughout the year. I have also attended university law fairs and client dinners/events, so I get out of the office fairly frequently. In addition, I have been deeply involved with the Merseyside Junior Lawyers Division, where I have recently completed two successive terms as chairman. I also attend Merseyside Young Professionals events, which are great opportunities to network with other young professionals in the local area, outside of the legal profession. Weightmans also provides secondment opportunities, which are excellent ways to build relationships with the firm’s clients.

What makes your firm stand out from the rest?

The firm values its trainees and they have a very important role within the firm at an early stage. People spend their entire careers at Weightmans, and during my own training contract I was trained by people who had undertaken their own training here as well. Everyone has an important role to play within the firm and no one is made to feel insignificant or that they aren’t contributing to the firm’s wider success.

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

Time management, people skills, the drive to want to deliver good results to clients and pride in the work that you do are all essential.

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

Do not, especially at an early stage, become so set on what area you think you want to work in that you neglect opportunities to explore other areas of law which you may not yet have considered you would find interesting. You should also expect to have unsuccessful applications and learn from any rejections you receive – it will help you to build stronger applications in the future.

Where is your dream holiday destination?

Australia without a doubt. I spent some time there when I went travelling, but obviously Australia is so big that I wasn’t able to see even half of it. I would love to go back.

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