Associate, Baker & McKenzie; chair, Junior Lawyers Division
Ever since I first used a computer, I have had an interest in technology, law and business. I was interested in the constantly evolving parameters of technology and how the world – and by that, of course, I mean the law – could adapt. After taking an IP law course at university, which merged all those areas of interest, I decided to pursue a career in technology law at a commercial firm.
I took my law degree at King’s College London before completing the LPC at the College of Law. I trained at Baker & McKenzie, which included six months in-house with a client. The mix of academic and practical education has its merits, and I was able to benefit from great supervision. Overall, I think my legal training did provide me with good preparation, although I feel the LPC is in need of reform.
A good lawyer understands the context in which they give advice. That doesn’t necessarily mean knowing all the immaterial facts surrounding a matter, but rather identifying those facts which enable the lawyer to think as if they are in the client’s shoes. In an advisory area of law, context and application are key differentiators between instructing a lawyer and researching the law online.
When I tell people I am a lawyer, they immediately think about the TV programmes that have done wonders for our reputation. Helping people is at the core of the legal profession and ultimately this leads to a unique respect which society gives us.
While I haven’t been in the legal profession for all that long, I have seen widescale reforms. As chair of the Junior Lawyers Division, I am able to see the impact of these reforms on junior lawyers across England and Wales. One of the recent losses has been the SRA’s abolition of the regulatory minimum salary for trainee solicitors.
Coming from a background where I benefited heavily from social mobility initiatives, I understand the difficulties that people can encounter entering the profession. The abolition of the minimum salary for trainee solicitors creates one very disappointing extra hurdle – a step in the wrong direction – and it is one of the key reasons I got involved with the JLD. That said, there have also been positive reforms. Flexible routes to qualification, as long as they are properly administered and maintained, have the potential to be a welcome addition.
I entered the legal profession because I saw the great opportunities that it offered. But there are other careers I could have followed that would have similarly fused my interest in technology, law and business.
What makes the legal profession stand out is our ability to help people. This includes vulnerable children or adults in family, housing or other human rights matters. With the cuts to legal aid, and the proposed increase to court fees, this type of help is under great threat. Access to justice is essential to our society. The Law Society, the JLD and so many other organisations are fighting hard to ensure that a career in legal aid remains a viable option for law students in the future, and that access to justice is maintained for all.