Olivia is a Trainee Solicitor, starting her training contract in the Tax Litigation department.
I am a trainee solicitor in my first seat. I joined Stewarts as a paralegal in the firm’s Clinical Negligence department in April 2021.
My passion for the law did not grow in the conventional way from my studies, but from my own first-hand experience of using the legal process to bring my own clinical negligence claim.
At the age of 18 my life changed overnight when I went into hospital for a routine appendix operation. During the key-hole procedure, my aorta was pierced. Because treatment was delayed, I lost the majority of blood in my body, causing my organs to start to shut down and my lungs to collapse. A laparotomy was performed, the hole repaired and my appendix taken out. I remained in intensive care for weeks and when taken off a ventilator I thought I was waking up from the initial 30 minute operation.
Following a lengthy recovery, my treating consultant advised that I should consider what he called a clinical negligence claim. This was the first time I had heard of this type of law. I delved straight into research on this and went on to bring a successful claim against the Trust. Liability was swiftly admitted and my claim moved onto quantum stages, concluding days before a High Court trial (and my GDL exams!).
My own claim has instilled in me a passion to help others achieve justice through the legal system.
International experiences and education
I was absolutely determined not to let my negative experience hold me back. I have always been interested in languages and living abroad so I jumped at the opportunity to study Italian and Spanish at Cardiff University, while my claim ran along in the background. I moved to Milan as an Erasmus student and fell in love with the city and its culture – Aperol and aperitivos along the Naviglio Grande after lectures! I then moved to Granada to finish my studies and equally enjoyed this experience.
As my degree came to an end and my interest in the law was at an all-time high with my claim in its final stages, I decided to enrol on the GDL. At this point I wanted to make sure that my interest was not solely in clinical negligence but carried over to other areas of the law. During this year, I also trained as a Gateway Assessor at the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). This involved assisting members of the public who sought help for a diverse range of issues. I would assist clients within a prescribed timescale, providing basic advice and signposting. This was an incredibly insightful and rewarding experience which necessitated lots of empathy and awareness to the multitude of problems that affect people’s lives.
I thoroughly enjoyed the GDL and my time at the CAB, both of which confirmed my desire to pursue a career in law.
Working as a paralegal
I started my career as an administrative assistant/junior paralegal at a local regional firm in their personal injury and clinical negligence department. Following a year at this firm, I moved to Irwin Mitchell as a paralegal.
At Irwin Mitchell I worked on a wide range of cases including adult and child brain injuries, birth injuries and spinal injuries. I assisted with all cosmetic surgery enquiries and ran a handful of these cases under supervision. The role required me to draft letters of claim and instructions to counsel ahead of conferences with clients and experts.
I moved to Bolt Burdon Kemp and specialised in child brain injury work. This involved work resulting from road traffic accidents and negligent medical care. I worked on a wide range of cases from personal injury portal claims to multi-million pound cases. During my time with Bolt Burdon Kemp I assisted weekly as a court clerk advocating at the Royal Courts of Justice for many client applications. As a result, my confidence improved and I became more competent in assisting in the preparation for various court hearings.
Having gained work experience, I enrolled on the part-time LPC and LLM. Seeking a change during these studies, I went to work for a private bank as a personal assistant. This was an easy transition from a paralegal role and an opportunity to improve my commercial awareness and knowledge of financial services. It not only improved my organisational skills but developed my ability to think on my feet.
Despite my transition to a finance environment, my interest remained to progress my legal career. Following the news that I had obtained a Distinction in the LPC LLM, I knew it was time to take the plunge back into the world of law and pursue my passion to help others achieve legal justice.
During my time at the firm, my personal experience has allowed me to empathise with those clients whose lives have been changed overnight. I understand the different parts of the journey a client is on throughout their claim and how much they rely on their solicitors to give the correct level of support needed to regain independence, as this was once my situation.
Why did you want to train as a solicitor with Stewarts?
Stewarts’ collaborative working culture was an important factor as to why I wanted to train with the firm. I have felt valued and included by Stewarts from day one. My journey to this point has not been straightforward but I believe that Stewarts creates a work environment in which you can be yourself and build on the different experiences we each have. Since joining the firm, I have been provided with the tools and support to develop within my role, taking on more responsibility and securing a training contract. I am looking forward to rotating within the firm, experiencing new areas of litigation and meeting more of my colleagues!
Stewarts Career Stories
We encourage our people to strive for excellence in everything they do. Our culture promotes a good work/life balance and supports the career progression of our staff.
We’ve highlighted some of the careers of our people, outlining the diverse paths they have taken to get where they are today.
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If you are interested in working for Stewarts our Careers section provides further details of our recruitment process and current opportunities.
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