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How I became a partner in a law firm without going to university

She now works as a partner (non lawyer) which is one of the most senior positions in a law firm. Read about how she navigated a few jobs to find one that was truly right for her.

Growing up I always wanted to be a primary school teacher so to aid my UCAS application I did voluntary work at a local school.  After this I realised teaching was not for me, and I had to change my plan. 

I withdrew my application to university. I decided to work for a year and then reapply for university. I applied to do Law with Human Resources, to this day I am not sure why I picked this course but I was offered a position at my chosen university. 

I excelled at school achieving good results, but I had to study very hard and after a year out I did not want to go back to this. Six weeks before I was due to start, I plucked up the courage to tell my parents I no longer wanted to go to university. They accepted my decision and encouraged me to do what I felt was best for me.  

My first job was with Shoosmiths in the Personal Injury department. As an office junior, my role was to sort and distribute post, do photocopying and run errands to the other Shoosmiths office in the town centre of Northampton. After around 18 months I started to look for another job, as I felt I had more to offer.

My second job was with Northampton County Council in the student awards department. My role was assisting with the assessment of parent’s income to calculate the level of grant each student would receive and to check the attendance/exam results of all students. I did not enjoy this job. 

To fill the time in, I studied for an NVQ Business Administration level 3 funded by the Council and attended night school to study a Legal Secretarial Course and RSA typing.

After 18 months I applied for a job at a local firm of solicitors as a Post Completion Assistant.  

In this job I enjoyed the role but not the office environment. But the firm must have seen I had potential as they offered to pay for my Council of Licenced Conveyancers qualification. I thought ‘I don’t want to be dealing with houses all my life!’ 

I went on holiday for two weeks and while away I decided that I needed to find a job I really enjoyed. I saw an advert for a case handler within the conveyancing department at Shoosmiths. I applied and I was offered a position, and from my first day in December 2000, I knew this was a role I was going to enjoy for the long-term.

I have now been working for Shoosmiths for over 21 years. I have progressed from a junior position in the conveyancing department to being a Partner (non lawyer) which is one of the most senior positions within a law firm. 

I have developed my expertise on the job, dealing with thousands of transactions and assisting other people in the team with theirs. My strengths were practical ways of learning rather than studying textbooks, and this is what I enjoyed.

Shoosmiths agreed to pay for the Council of Licensed Conveyancer qualification for me. I started this course but I did not find studying easy and did not enjoy doing it. After the second module I decided not to complete the course. I was concerned that forcing myself to study would result in me disliking the job. I have never regretted this decision.  

Since joining Shoosmiths I have not achieved any further qualifications. However, I have continued to learn and develop. Shoosmiths have an excellent learning and development team who offer numerous courses on management skills. To develop my management skills I have attended as many courses as possible. Learning from the senior leaders in my team has also been invaluable. I have learnt a lot from the other Partners in my team. Listening to how they handle various situations, discussing and sharing ideas has been a great way of learning and developing. My promotion to Partner has been achieved by gaining experience in all areas of my role and hard work.

I fell into working in law and particularly conveyancing. I have been very successful without the qualification or the burden of a student debt! It has been hard work and I have had to work under a lot of pressure at times. 

To me the most important thing is, I found something I enjoyed doing. So remember, you spend most of your awake hours at work, so it is important to you do something you enjoy.

You might find it useful to know that Shoosmiths conveyancing department rebranded to Swiitch in June 2023. We are still very much part of Shoosmiths but we have been able to move away from Shoosmiths branding which is corporate and commercial to enable us to talk directly to our clients in a more personable way. We still have the backing of Shoosmiths but now have our own voice in the property industry to appeal to the next generation of home buyers.  

Take a look at our current vacancies here:  

If you have any questions about a career at Shoosmiths, get in touch with our talent acquisition team via email 

Follow us on Instagram for the latest firm insights and to get a flavour of what working here is all about @ShoosmithsLLP and @ShoosmithsGrads.

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