CU Scarborough has let Lorraine Taylor, a Partner in local law firm Bridge McFarland, take over today’s blog to help you better understand what it’s really like to work in the law sector. Take it away Lorraine…
The Hollywood spin on the legal system paints the picture of dramatic court room show-downs, impassioned speeches and momentous rulings, but it’s not always like that. In fact most of the job involves long phone calls, responding to emails and drafting letters – but that doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting.
The reason I love what I do is the variety and the constant intellectual challenge. You have to learn to look at things from every possible angle, you get a constant stream of interesting new cases, and there is literally no way of knowing what each day will bring you.
That is why it’s difficult to give you the ‘typical day in the life’ run down; there is no typical day. There are however many recurrent activities that have to take place regardless of scheduling conflicts.
My email inbox requires constant supervision to stop it from exploding–really–just one case can equate to 20-30 emails in a day, and each one will have attached documents to sign off or amend. It can be overwhelming if you don’t keep a close watch and respond to things promptly.
Delegation and supervision is also an important part of my day; I will be visited or called by legal secretaries, junior solicitors, legal executives and other fee earners with case updates and questions daily. I resolve their issues and send them on to the next task so that the department as a whole can progress–you need to be a team player to work in this environment. Each person will work their way up. When you get to where I am, good delegation skills are also really important.
There is very rarely a day where I don’t speak with a few clients. Naturally people who trust me with their cases are anxious to receive updates and progress reports; you get to know your clients very well by the end of a case. These phone calls can each last anywhere from a five minute catch-up and a quick reassurance up to an hour for clients who need additional support. Empathy is really important, particularly in the Medical Negligence cases that I handle. Clients have often been through life changing experiences or, in some cases, have lost loved ones to medical errors-you need to be sensitive to that while remaining professional.
On any given day the chances are that I will also have deadlines for submissions to the courts, inter-organisational meetings, travel to different parts of the region and networking obligations.
It’s a mixed bag, and the rewards are well worth the hard work and the extra hours. I get to have an incredibly positive effect on the lives of my clients, and that feeling when you help someone to win or settle a case is priceless. This isn’t the job for someone who wants to get home at 5:30pm every day, this is a lifestyle choice.