Laura Weir is a solicitor in the Clinical Negligence department. She joined Stewarts’ London office in January 2018 when she was one year qualified.
I was thrilled to be offered the role as I have always wanted to work on the most high-value and complex cases. Stewarts has always stood out to me as a leader in its field and I had always heard such good things about working here (which have all been true).
I grew up in the Welsh countryside and went to my local university, Aberystwyth. On gaining a 2:1 law degree, I took a huge risk and moved to London. I always knew I wanted to be a City lawyer and felt it was “now or never”.
I rented a small studio flat in east London and started my LPC at the College of Law, Bloomsbury. I didn’t know anyone in London and the first few months were very challenging. I threw myself into my studies and job hunting and, on graduating from the College of Law with a Distinction, I managed to secure a job as litigation assistant to a partner in the clinical negligence department at Irwin Mitchell.
At Irwin’s I was essentially the partner’s PA and would assist with arranging meetings and managing her diary. Three months after joining, the partner approached me and asked me whether I would consider applying for a paralegal role within her team. I did so, and I was awarded the position.
I worked as a paralegal for a further three months before applying for a training contract. I worked incredibly hard and did everything I could to stand out, including setting up the social committee for the London office, which saw me arranging firm-wide events including a large Christmas party for four consecutive years.
On being awarded a training contract I was told there would be two-year wait until my start date. I therefore continued to work as a paralegal within the team until one day, a year after my offer, I was told that my training contract had been brought forward and I would be starting in two weeks’ time.
I completed an 18-month training contract (as some of the work I had done already counted towards my training period) and undertook seats in clinical negligence, public law and Court of Protection. I thoroughly enjoyed my training contact and it confirmed that a career as a solicitor was for me.
I qualified on 1 March 2017 and immediately inherited a busy case load of clinical negligence cases with a mixture of pre and post issue cases. It was a steep learning curve, but I loved the busy pace of being a litigator.
It was at university that I first became interested in clinical negligence as a career. I volunteered at a local horse riding stables, helping disabled children ride. On chatting to one of the mums, she explained that her daughter had cerebral palsy as a result of negligent care during her labour and birth, and that she had an on-going claim. Although I had studied medical law as part of my degree, I hadn’t really appreciated the impact negligent care can have on patients and their families.
I was fortunate enough to gain work experience in the clinical negligence department at a law firm in Cardiff, which reaffirmed my interest in this area of law. To then go on to work as a litigation assistant and paralegal in a clinical negligence team meant that at the point of qualification there was only one area I wanted to work in.
As I look back on my short but busy legal career, I still have to pinch myself that I have come this far. My message to paralegals looking to gain a training contract is to take risks, be pro-active, think about how you can contribute to your firm outside of your role and, most importantly, be passionate about what you do.
To view Laura’s profile, please click here.
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