Rothera Dowson, Nottingham
Watching 1980s TV programmes such as Crown Court and LA Law inspired me to consider a career in law. As a regulatory transport lawyer I now see past the glitz and glamour of those shows, but they helped establish my train of thought. I also set myself on a legal career after a teacher suggested I was best suited to sales – advice I was intent on proving wrong.
I found my legal training far too academic. It didn’t teach the important business aspects of the profession, such as being able to interact with people or how to attract clients.
I have perfected the practice of mindfulness to remain calm in the face of pressure. Often though, the most notable challenges I’ve faced as a lawyer have come from the business side. Making sure everyone in the firm is happy and productive is just as important as pleasing clients – a responsibility that comes as a surprise to many lawyers.
The most memorable moments of my career are the more humorous situations. The first time I appeared in court for a haulier I had a most unfortunate mix-up with the words ‘fork lift truck’, and I once represented a client on issues of ‘financial standing’ whose real name was Robin Banks.
The best client relationships are built on trust and respect so it’s always better if all appointments are kept and as little time as possible is spent discussing fees. Clients that don’t want to listen to advice make everything much harder.
I’m often told I’m a specialist in my field but I like to think I’m competent at many things. Clients certainly want specialist expertise and understanding, but they also want to be able to deal with a normal human being. I find it helps not to be one-dimensional.
I don’t have a least favourite road transport or motoring law. However, in the legal profession I face the everyday bureaucracy and red tape which most lawyers inevitably come across – turning straightforward cases into a cumbersome nightmare.
The legal profession has changed a great deal over my career. One of the most dramatic changes has been technology. While I may feel tied to my tablet 24/7, technology has streamlined many legal processes and given far more accuracy to our work. I’m now a keen Twitter user (@KeepMeOnTheRoad), a tool I find extremely useful for social networking with the industry and also discussing legal issues with the public.
I would like to see more consistency with prosecutions across the EU in order to make it a more level playing field for all European companies and drivers.
I’m particularly concerned by the gradual erosion of access to justice and the reductions in both civil and criminal legal aid. Cuts to court services, the rising costs of justice and now the new criminal courts charge place an emphasis on making the individual pay for using the system and amount to an assault on their rights.
Regrettably, the government seems reluctant to be held to account. I hope there will always be proper representation available for those that need it.