A strong desire to provide a better life for my children pushed me towards a legal career. It was clear that a career in law could be rewarding and lay the foundations for a stable future, if I was good enough.
I worked in Shepherd’s Bush market selling fruit and veg for a good few years. Though those were particularly tough times, this was an important part of my journey to qualifying as a solicitor. Working in the market allowed me the flexibility to concentrate on my LLB exams when I needed to.
I was lucky to train in one of the top City firms. Clearly that training was geared towards ensuring you are an efficient and competent fee-earner in private practice. When I moved in-house, I had to draw on my wider life experiences and readjust to a different environment and challenge.
My first real challenge was to secure a position as an assistant solicitor at my firm. As a junior assistant life became more of an endurance test. Hours and hours of transaction-related work can be hard both on you and your family. Work-life balance did not exist as a concept in the old days.
Work as an in-house lawyer was different but no less challenging. Your input is immediate and acted on, so you feel constantly on high alert.
I lived through the financial crisis, working for a bank which went through a takeover. Not only did I have to deal with financial crisis-related issues, I had to reapply for my role post-takeover and go through a rigorous selection process.
I have supported and managed some important investigation and enforcement actions by US and UK regulators. These are great professional experiences, but at the same time tremendously difficult to manage effectively given the number of parties involved.
My first in-house role as a regional general counsel gave me exposure to great legal teams across the globe, which enriched my life personally as well as professionally.
The in-house sector has probably moved away from narrow specialisations, which used to have mostly a product focus, to a more rounded collection of lawyers who support their stakeholders in relation to a wider set of skills and knowledge than previously. All lawyers now have a certain degree of knowledge around regulatory or contentious matters. That is not to say those specialist areas have disappeared, but an in-house lawyer is much more aware of the wider issues that may affect the business areas they support.
My old boss was part of the first cohort of Law Society social mobility ambassadors and encouraged me to apply to be considered for the second cohort. I am delighted he did. All I want to achieve is to inspire others to overcome obstacles they face and join the profession. I hope I can make a difference and be a positive influence.