1. Please tell us what you do
I am a solicitor and specialise mainly in the area of Employment law. My practice also includes Education law.
2. What does a typical day look like?
There is no such thing as a typical day and it varies according to the demands of casework that I have conduct of, and the needs of the work. My tasks range from:
a) attending hearings at the tribunals:
b) taking instructions from clients;
c) drafting claims or defences, witness statements and tribunal submissions and letters to the other party;
d) advising on clients’ workplace issues such as disciplinary and grievance matters;
e) reviewing the merits of the case;
f) negotiating settlements;
g) other case management issues such as billing and record-keeping and checking the post;
h) providing training at seminars;
i) reviewing and drafting contracts and workplace policies and procedures;;
j) keeping abreast of my areas of law;
k) writing blogs for the firm’s website; and
3. What are the best things and more challenging things about your career?
Employment law if one of fastest changing areas of law due to the impetus from Europe (alas, no longer!). The best thing is when I get a positive financial result for the client either following negotiations or after the conclusion of a hearing.
Challenges I face is clients’ ability to afford legal fees, particularly following a dismissal. The government as introduced a fee paying regime in the Employment tribunals, resulting in a over 70% drop in tribunal claims, nationally, and as such denying people access to justice. Coupled with the fact that in order make a claim for unfair dismissal an employee must have been in employment for a period of 2 years. Issues such as these act as a deterrent to making claims as the legal process is onerous and expensive.
I got involved in civil rights issues concerning low paid workers. I was the first ethnic minority woman paid full time trade union officer (field officer for the health service trade union), across all trade unions. So my appointment was a historical one.
This is what generated my interest in the law, leading me to study as a mature student and began my legal studies at the age of 36. It was the best move I made, even though I had to make personal and financial sacrifices to maintain myself to achieve my goal of qualifying as a solicitor. I was self-motivated and my previous experiences assisted me in being able to grasp legal concepts more easily than my peers. My mature outlook in life made me good communicator.
Being appointment as the Chief Assistant Solicitor (Head of Employment Law) at the City of London Corporation gave me a real sense of achievement, in that my hard work, determination and acquiring legal knowledge had paid off. During my tenure I had several successes and received many testimonials from other Directorates.
6. What would you recommend to a younger colleague wanting to start her career in your area or sector of expertise?
My advice is to a younger colleague would be to only enter into this field if you are self-motivated and committed to withstand the challenges ahead of them. Hard work and determination pays off.