Sport and equalities minister
I have always felt that justice was a deep and fundamental part of my value set. Perhaps my own experiences as a child, suffering racism and bullying, were something to do with why I became a solicitor. The rest of my family are from the medical profession but when it was time for me to choose a career, the legal path seemed the most natural one to follow.
I think the old method of training was a solid and robust way to start a legal career. I was also fortunate enough to have been articled to a very established and well-respected firm.
I recall one civil case that took every ounce of professionalism, organisation, legal skill and resilience that I have had to muster as a solicitor. It involved a series of allegations of satanic ritual child abuse of the very worst kind, involving highly vulnerable people.
Most of the skills I have acquired as a solicitor have proved very portable in other contexts, particularly in business and in politics, and also as a non-exec director of a public trust.
A good lawyer is one with client empathy and good communication skills who is also a stickler for organisation and preparation.
I am proud of my profession and will always have a great fondness for colleagues in practice, at the bar and in the judiciary.
I couldn’t say what the hardest sort of client is. Everyone presents a different set of needs and circumstances, each of which form a unique challenge to tackle.
In the face of regulation and litigation culture, lawyers have had to specialise to protect themselves and their clients. In doing so clients probably receive a higher quality of specialist advice but are less able to obtain a broader range of advice from a single source. The outcome is a mixed picture.
I would like to see a period of stability after the current raft of changes become embedded in the legal services market, allowing the profession time to plan and refresh, and really take advantage of new opportunities.
There are not too many lawyers. The professional training is a great starting point for a multitude of careers.