Welcome to the latest in our ‘What I know now’ series, where we speak to a qualified legal professional about their career in law: their path to their current role and their thoughts on working in the legal sector. Today’s post is from Joanne Wilcox at Salehs LLP.
Joanne trained at Goodman Harvey after completing her degree, qualified as a solicitor in June 2007 and moved to work at DWF LLP. She now works as a solicitor in the commercial property team at Salehs in Manchester.
HELLO JOANNE, AND THANK YOU FOR TAKING PART IN WHAT I KNOW NOW. OUR FIRST QUESTION IS WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO TRAIN AS A SOLICITOR?
I watched the film 12 Angry Men, which inspired me to go into law, originally to get my law degree to become a mounted policeman, as it is fast track in the police force with a law degree. However, when I started my degree most people wanted to be solicitors, so I changed my mind.
HOW WELL DID YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A TRAINEE PREPARE YOU FOR BECOMING QUALIFIED?
I had very good hands on experience and ran my own files, so when I qualified it was a very easy transition as nothing really changed.
DESCRIBE YOUR TRAINING PARTNER IN THREE WORDS.
Knowledgeable and precise.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE WHEN YOU WERE ADMITTED AND TOOK ON A FULL SOLICITOR ROLE?
I changed firms on qualification and went from a small boutique firm to a large firm, so the biggest difference for me was the working environment. The work itself wasn’t much different.
WHAT WERE THE FACTORS BEHIND YOU CHOOSING THE AREA OF LAW THAT YOU SPECIALISE IN?
I have always had an interest in buildings and I paralegalled in the corporate and property department, so I had a great opportunity to see and be involved with property transactions before I did it as part of my training contract.
COMPARED TO YOUR OWN EXPERIENCE, HOW SIMILAR OR DIFFERENT DO YOU PERCEIVE THE CHALLENGES TO BE FACING NQS IN 2019?
The competition continues to be fierce and it does still seem to be a lot of who your know rather than what you know. I think the main challenge for NQs now is work ethic. When I qualified, you had to work hard and be good at what you do, whereas now I have found that even in national firms some trainees and NQs seem to be quite lazy and reluctant to undertake some elements of the work and seem to get by. I would say that the challenge would be to be a better lawyer than they are.
WHAT PIECE OF PRACTICAL ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS AT THE START OF THEIR LEGAL CAREER?
Try harder, don’t coast.
WITH HINDSIGHT, WHAT DO YOU WISH YOU HAD KNOWN WHEN YOU WERE NEWLY QUALIFIED?
You will enjoy elements of the job, but you will never love the job all of the time. Rather than getting annoyed, just accept that you will miss many social and family occasions as it is the nature of the job.
IF YOU WERE TO RECRUIT A LAWYER AT NQ LEVEL TO WORK CLOSELY WITH YOU, WHAT WOULD BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING YOU’D LOOK FOR?
Obviously capability, but also enthusiasm and a desire to learn.
WHAT IS THE STRANGEST EXPERIENCE YOU’VE HAD IN AN INTERVIEW, AND HOW DID YOU HANDLE IT?
Being asked whether I intended to have any children soon. Also, part way through an interview the managing partner walking into the interview, snarling at me, before picking up my CV at the table, glancing at it and then throwing it in my face asking me what use I would be to him! Both times I just smiled sweetly.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST INTERVIEW TIP?
Preparation, then pause for a few moments before responding to questions. Also make sure you have a few questions to ask.
TO DATE, WHAT IS YOUR ‘CAREER HIGHLIGHT’?
Despite my responses I have had many. Solely letting a whole redeveloped airport and then selling it again a team of eight on the other side. Also solely purchasing a shopping centre with lending under auction conditions and timing with 24 lease reviews, two weeks before I was due to go on holiday, again against two separate legal teams of numbers of solicitors.
WHAT IS THE FUNNIEST THING THAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU AT WORK?
The other side sent funds to our client account with an extra ‘0’, which was an awful lot more money than should have been sent and I had to call the solicitor on the other side to let them know I was sending it back to them.
WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT THE LEGAL PROFESSION?
It is still quite male dominated, particularly in more senior roles.
BESIDES BEING A LAWYER, IF MONEY WERE NO OBJECT AND YOU KNEW YOU COULDN’T FAIL, WHAT WOULD YOU MOST LIKE TO TRY OR DO?
I would either like to retrain as a vet or do something more outdoorsy, perhaps have a dog kennels and cattery?
SUMMARISE YOUR EXPERIENCE OF LEGAL RECRUITERS IN FIVE WORDS OR LESS
Supportive, helpful, knowledgeable, pushy or rude.
We like to think that Brooke Thornham inspires the first three…thanks for talking to us Joanne!