I made my decision to become a lawyer some 18 years ago when I joined the University of Newcastle to learn as much as I could about being a lawyer. No one told me you would probably not learn much of that at any university: Academic work is very different to professional work.
After obtaining a 2:2 at Undergraduate and having considerably improved on that grade during my Masters, I left Newcastle to head
The highest accolade I could have achieved, in my mind, would have been pupillage at one of a small handful of chambers, doing shipping law or some other kind of international law, drawing on my now immense experience in the area – my Masters having taught me all I needed to know. I felt prepared to do anything.
Things did not really go my way when all my applications were rejected. Many of my friends were in the same boat, but where they tried again, I was too keen to get working and on cases I enjoyed.
…and consequently, I jumped in to two things I had never thought of before: 1. Becoming a solicitor and 2. Working in our family firm.
As soon as I started work at Strain Keville I knew I was going in the right direction. I had not realised working for clients on their problems with the aim of making their situations better would be so rewarding.
I was lucky to train in this small firm (not to mention I had a bit of an ‘in’ with the firm anyway), and immediately worked with clients whom I got to know quickly and to whom I became known and friendly.
I worked directly on cases and my efforts made a difference immediately. Not because I was amazing….. yet! but because I was given the opportunity to really take part. I too learned how to photocopy, just like every good trainee is taught – and I do love a bit of bundle compilation – and I was also given real files to work on. That only really happens in small firms.
I worked hard to learn my trade from Andrew, who trained me himself, from firms we had close relationships with, from barristers, accountants and third parties. Books and Google too. My thanks to all of those who took part and continue to do so.
I am now lucky enough to be in the same firm, with a very different structure. As a team we have grown it from a firm, founded by Andrew Strain, to a dynamic boutique firm, run by keen partners, catering for clients all over the world.
Our team is the strongest part of what we do and the people who have come on board with us and make it all work is very much part of what I love about my job. I now get to train many of them and they train me, after a while.
I try to make what I do all about growth. I grow with the employees I get to work with, the clients grow with us, and we grow with them. We all get to work together and, so far, the strategy works well.
I am not a barrister like I initially thought I wanted to be, but I am taking part in something I always wanted, and I get to do that with my clients and my team.
I consider myself lucky and all the hard work, failures and successes make big and positive differences to me and how my career has progressed.