University: University of Liverpool
Degree: Law and politics BA
Year of qualification: September 2014
Department: Cross-border team, large loss
I was drawn to a career in law from an early age. During sixth form, I attended a work placement at a high street practice in Southport. This gave me a real insight into what it would be like to pursue a career in law and I was keen for law to form part of my degree. I was also, however, very interested in politics at the time and had taken a politics A level. Ultimately, I settled on a degree in law and politics but by the time that I was due to graduate, I had been given the opportunity to gain more work experience over the summer in a Manchester firm. I really enjoyed it and was sold!
Geography was an important factor for me! I went to university in Liverpool and have lived in the North West for most of my life and so was keen to stay, as I have a great support network here with friends and family. I also wanted to train at a firm with a good culture where I would have a good deal of support and be able to gain a lot of experience of high-quality work. After a lot of research and attendance at various law fairs, Weightmans stood out and when the chance came up to apply to do work experience, I jumped at it!
As above, in terms of legal experience. In addition to this, I had always had a part-time job through sixth form and university in a restaurant/bar. In my view, this is looked at favourably by potential employers and demonstrates some of the key skills that a potential employer would be looking for, such as willingness to work hard, time management skills and so on. This adds value to any application, in my view. Experience in the service industry also has the added bonus of improving your communication skills, which comes in handy for interviews!
Because the market is so competitive and there are so many law graduates, it is really difficult to get a training contract. It took me a few years to get a training contract but I got there in the end. To get a training contract and excel in law, you really have to stand out. I worked hard and exceeded my targets. This involved some late nights and the odd weekend here and there, but it worked out well in the end! Law firms are keen to employ good all-rounders who are committed to the firm. I also became involved in the CSR/social committee and team events which interested me, such as social events and sports.
At the time that I was offered a training contract with Weightmans, I had been with the firm approximately five years. I began working in the commercial recoveries team, recovering money on behalf of various clients, setting up payment arrangements, issuing statutory declarations and bankruptcy petitions. I spent a year or so there before successfully applying for a paralegal role in transport. I worked in that team for approximately three years before I was successful in my training contract application, handling fast-track motor claims on behalf of various insurers, and while I was waiting for my training contract to start, I was offered a team leader post. I spent a lot of my training in litigation teams; I have a real flare for litigation and knew from the moment that I joined the transport team that I was set for a career in contentious law.
Trainees can apply for any NQ vacancy available within the firm when approaching qualification.
In the cross-border team, I specialise in handling claims involving road traffic accidents in European countries. I act on behalf of the compensation body for the UK and other insurers/ claims handling agents and handle claims brought by English resident victims who have been injured in accidents abroad. With this, I handle a real variety of cases in terms of value and types of issues, as the law differs in each member state. Every day is different depending on whether you are dealing with an accident in France, Germany or Spain! They are good-quality cases and the work is really interesting. No matter what the particular issues on a case may be, my typical day nevertheless involves providing advice to clients, answering queries both in and outside the team, liaising with opponent solicitors to move the case on to settlement wherever possible and filing documents with the court.
As an associate, I am becoming more involved in business development and promoting the firm – see below – but, leaving that aside, the firm really encourages people to take part in networking events. It frequently runs an internal networking event called Weightmans Wednesday which is open to the public and a real success. There are also opportunities for secondments and to attend client events.
Organisation, attention to detail and time management skills are vital. Sometimes, depending on how a case progresses, I have to juggle things about. To make sure I get everything done in time, I have to prioritise my work. A genuine interest in the area of law is a must too. It really helps if you enjoy what you are doing!
Talk to as many people as you can, do your research and stay open minded! Lots of people decide what they want to do early on and before they have had any real experience. Stay open minded and decide as you go so that you don’t rule out an area of law which you have a real flare for. Also, don’t be disheartened by rejection – keep going and you will get there in the end!
Without doubt the biggest opportunity I have been given since I joined the firm is the opportunity to strive to meet the challenge in my recently appointed role as an associate. I was over the moon when I was promoted to this post in September 2017. It is a great opportunity for me in terms of my future career with the firm. I have more exposure to clients and I am more involved in the development of the team. I learn something new every day! Weightmans has also recently rolled out an associate development programme to encourage associates to become more involved in the development of the business. This is a great opportunity for people to become more involved and learn more about the business.
I love travelling and have a list of places that I would like to visit as long as my arm! Within the last couple of years, I have visited Vietnam and New York, and enjoyed a few city breaks in Europe, not forgetting the annual trip to Benidorm with the girls! I’d have to say Cuba for my next big holiday!