I suppose you are all wondering who I am. Well, I shall start this, my first blog post, by telling you a bit more about myself.
I started my law career in 2002 when I worked part-time as a supervisor in a conveyancing firm during my degree. I was responsible for looking after a team of eight paralegals and worked evenings/weekends to pay for my studies. At the same time, I chose to study in the town where my family lived to save money on accommodation and food.
I went through a series of other legal jobs during my law degree, including two legal secretarial roles. In 2005, I finished my law degree and graduated with honours. I took the decision to take a year out, as I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to qualify as a solicitor and wanted to be sure before I invested £10,000 in tuition fees. During that year, I worked as a paralegal in a conveyancing department of a large, high-street law firm.
After much soul-searching, I decided in 2006 to start my Legal Practice Course and commenced my studies on a part-time basis so that I could continue to work and pay for the fees at the same time. This was a tough period as the studies required full-time attention and I was working four days a week on top of this. But I was lucky enough to have a supportive family around me who encouraged me to keep my goals in sight and this really spurred me on.
Incidentally, it was around this time that I met my husband, Sean. He is such a wonderful man – I’ve never met anyone so positive and inspiring. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t have achieved half as much in the last five years if it wasn’t for him. He makes me want to be a better person – and that is how you know that you are with the right partner! We are now married and expecting our first baby in February 2012 – it’s amazing how things all fall into place when you are happy.
Anyway, I finished my LPC in June 2008 and started my training contract straight away with a local firm in Hertfordshire. It was a medium-sized firm, with around 40-50 employees and four different practice areas. During my training, I also sat on the committee for the Hertfordshire Junior Lawyer’s Division of the Law Society and this gave me invaluable experience into the value of networking and marketing.
(Now don’t get me wrong, the preceding paragraph makes it sounds like securing a training contract was a doddle – it was not! This involved a lot of hard work and dedication to my goals, but that is best saved for another day!).
In June 2010, I finally qualified which marked the end of a long struggle. As the famous Zig Ziglar once said, this proved to me that “happiness is not pleasure; happiness is victory.”
Unfortunately, I had not anticipated that I would have to battle a little while longer to really cement my legal career. I was informed that the firm that I had trained with were unable to take me on as a newly qualified solicitor after my training contract ended. So, I was left desperately trying to find a job straight out of training in the midst of a recession.
Many say that I was lucky to land a role at a firm in Milton Keynes within 3 days of my training contract expiring and I guess that they are right. In fact, I would say that one thing that I’ve learnt on my journey is that the more work I put in, the luckier I get! I spent three solid months searching for that job and must have made hundreds of applications, but finally all of the hard work paid off and I started a job as a newly qualified solicitor on 1st July 2010. It did mean uprooting my husband and moving an hour away from our families, which was difficult as we are both very family-oriented, but I think that it was worth it.
So, where am I now? I am almost two years qualified and my firm has recently merged with a bigger law firm in Northampton. This means that I now have an hour’s commute each way to work every day, but it’s a great opportunity for my career and the firm is a lot larger, so there is a lot more support available. My husband and I are expecting our first baby and I am due to go on maternity leave at the end of January 2012.
I am writing this blog to highlight some of the hot topics in the legal industry at the moment and to help other young lawyers through the qualification process. I appreciate that I have not yet reached the pinnacle of my career, but I do have the advantage of being close enough to the process to remember how it felt to be going through it. I have picked up a lot of experience on the way and am hoping to be able to share this with my readers to hopefully help them in their own careers.
So thank you for reading this far – I appreciate that this post has been very waffly but I had to set “the story so far”. I promise that the next post will be a lot more interesting!
I hope you have a great day!
PS If you are currently working towards qualification and have questions that you would like to see answered in this blog, please feel free to get in touch by either commenting on one of my blogs or by sending me a tweet at @SarahsLawTweets