Information services and operations director, Weightmans, Liverpool
Doing science A-levels and not being sure what I wanted to do, I studied law at university because it was a subject that, like science, required a degree of logical thought. It was also a good academic degree that kept my options open.
I was in the last cohort of graduates who took the Law Society Finals exams. They helped prepare me in terms of a test of endurance and a capacity for hard work, resilience and fortitude. However, the ability to regurgitate faithfully reams of content lacking context and meaning did not provide a great grounding for beginning a career in the real world. I learnt far more of the practical reality as a trainee solicitor at Weightmans.
My specialism for the best part of 10 years was professional negligence – acting for solicitors and their insurers. Anything a solicitor does, being subject to error, meant that the cases I had to deal with were incredibly varied. Even the smallest cases involved a lot of black letter, academic law which felt more like the type of law career I had imagined.
The most difficult transition was moving into my operational role as IT director. I had to learn very quickly that the only way to succeed was to deliver through other people and that continues today in my role as IS and operations director.
Acting for solicitors generally could be very difficult and needed a lot of sensitivity. On many occasions, as a young, green, one to three years’ PQE solicitor, I found myself explaining to lawyers who had been practising for decades that they had made a mistake.
As a lawyer, my most exciting career moment was discovering Decision Tree Analysis. As a method of logically and systematically analysing claims it was an utter revelation to me.
I recently became a school governor for my children’s primary school. For what is a voluntary role, there is a huge amount of information to understand – the government’s Governor’s Handbook alone is 118 pages long. I like to think my legal training has helped me navigate my way through some of that volume.
Throughout my career the biggest development has been the adoption and use of technology. As to where next, to quote Google, ‘making complex software is easy, making software easy is complex’. I would like to move towards task-based rather than application-based computing. Put simply, I want to ‘communicate with my client’, not ‘open a word-processing package’.
There are essays to be written on my hopes for the future of how technology is utilised within the legal sector. But as I write this on the train between London and Birmingham, one of my hopes is for ubiquitous, fast and reliable internet connectivity and devices that have battery life measured in days rather than hours.