Paralegal, Hill Dickinson, London

After finishing college in Italy I realised I was suited for a legal career because I am very persistent and persuasive. My family has always been involved in the shipping sector and this has fascinated me since I was a child. The involvement has, however, always been from a commercial perspective. There are no lawyers in my family. What I like about shipping is the international aspect and the variety of cases you can handle.

I studied law in Rome and wrote my final dissertation on shipping law. After six months in a law firm in Rome, I decided I wanted to move to London because of my passion for shipping. I had to start all over again due to the different legal systems. I did my GDL and LPC at the College of Law and obtained a training contract with Hill Dickinson, which is due to start this September. I am currently working as a paralegal at the same firm, in the shipping team.

I had the chance to take part in the Clipper Round the World Race 13-14, Leg 8, race 14, from New York to Derry-Londonderry, thanks to Hill Dickinson.

The nature of my work is to assist my team with whatever needs to be done, from legal research to proofreading a statement, writing emails to clients and barristers, and going to court to file an application. Therefore, I work with a lot of people and have a lot of tasks to deal with throughout the day. Prioritising these it is essential to be able to satisfy the people I work with and to gain their confidence in my work.

People generally assume the law is a boring profession and that we are there to create trouble. The trick is not to stop at the word ‘lawyer’ but to carry on talking about what you actually do at work, the type of cases you deal with – and people will suddenly be interested.

From my experience I can divide clients into two categories: professional clients such as protection and indemnity clubs, and lay clients such as owners and charterers. This latter category may sometimes be more challenging to deal with because of the different background and the perspective they approach problems from.

As a lawyer you need to adapt the way you deliver advice depending on who you are dealing with. While the first category is more used to talking with lawyers and understand the ‘legal’ thinking, with the second category you need to be more careful about how you provide your advice as you need to make sure it goes straight to the point.

I started as a support member and in a way I still am, as my work is to assist my team. I owe career success to the people I have been working with because they are teaching me a lot of skills that will be very important during my training contract and once I am qualified.

It has become very difficult to secure a training contract. However one must not lose hope, because if it is something you really want you will find a way to obtain it. It worked for me.