January 22, 2021

My journey to qualification

However my journey to qualification has been anything but straightforward. Now seems an opportune time to share my story as COVID-19 has, and continues, to leave a trail of uncertainty behind it. I hope to reassure you that although the route to achieving your goals may not be as you mapped out with perseverance you will get there.

In my final year of University I was diagnosed with a long term health condition. I was advised to delay my studies by a year. However, my placement year at Blake Morgan had given me the taste for working life and I did not want to delay this. I therefore persevered and finished my degree from my bed!

After University I secured a job at a firm in Bath and was promised a training contract. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that the company was in difficulty. I therefore applied for a temporary secretary job at Withy King in Bath. I was successful and joined Withy King in June 2012.

I was subsequently offered a permanent role as a Secretary then Paralegal in the Family team. In 2013 I attended an assessment day at another local law firm. From the moment I walked in the door I got a strong feeling that it wasn’t meant to be. I recall upon my return to the office discussing the interview with Rich Ellis who said I was too much of a “Withy King” person to secure that particular job.

This really struck a chord with me as I loved my job and the culture at Withy King. Around this time I became ill again and had to accept that I could not work full time and apply for training contracts.

In late 2013 I moved to Swindon to work for Bec Stevens. Bec was supportive of my ambition to qualify and we decided the best route for me was to qualify through CILEx. I applied to be admitted as a Graduate Legal Executive in September 2013 with a plan to apply for Fellowship after I had completed the required 2 years work experience.

After the two years had passed I did not make the application and made excuses when anyone asked. I think I knew deep down that although I loved working in child care I was not an advocate and this would limit how far I could progress.

One of my best friends passed away unexpectedly in May 2015. Over the following 2 years several more traumatic events occurred. Qualifying went to the bottom of my prioritise list. Eventually everything caught up with me and in November 2017 I was signed off work for a month with stress, anxiety and exhaustion.

At that time I thought my career was over, that I would be fired and no other company would hire me. I was obviously not fired and instead was supported in my recovery by everyone at RWK. I do not believe that every employer would have been as compassionate and supportive.

I realised that part of the issue was I had gone as far as I could in my current job and I had to make a decision between staying in a job and team I loved or leaving to potentially qualify elsewhere. I am a loyal person and making the decision to leave Family to join the Wiltshire Private Client team in July 2018 was incredibly hard.

I quickly fell in love with Private Client work and was offered the opportunity to qualify under the mentorship of Mandy Casavant. With my past experiences and good dose of imposter syndrome I was rather nervous. However, Mandy and the wider team were extremely patient and supportive. Finally, on 5 January 2021 I received confirmation that I had been admitted as a Solicitor.

During the 8.5 years I have been at RWK I have worked in 5 different teams across two offices and regularly visited other offices. Consistently I have been surrounded by inspiring and supportive people.

I have had experiences and opportunities well beyond my expectations for my career already. Not many lawyers get their work published by the President of the Family Division or attend The Lawyer Awards for their contribution to a law changing case. There are so many opportunities available to us at RWK and my advice is to grab them- you never know where they will lead you!

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