Charlie, what’s your role at MSB Solicitors?
I’m an assistant solicitor in the Litigation department. I have my own case load as well as assisting the head of department with more complex and higher value matters. MSB also encourages everyone within the firm to take an active role in marketing and business development so I am responsible for attending networking events on behalf of the firm and participating in the marketing strategy of the department.
What’s the best thing about your job?
The variety of work I undertake. We act for a diverse portfolio of different clients, from individuals in the local area to businesses based across the country and overseas. Naturally this leads to clients with different needs for consideration when resolving disputes. I think that as a result, my experience of litigation as a trainee and a newly qualified solicitor has been broader than others at a similar stage in their career.
You spent a year studying in Paris. How did that come about & what was it like?
It was part of my degree (English and French Laws with French LLB) and a deciding factor in choosing the course. Paris was an extraordinary experience. The work was challenging – it can be hard enough learning the law in your own language! It was hugely rewarding to end up with a Licènce en Droit, the equivalent of an LLB, in French Law. Outside of studying there was so much to see and do in and around the city and we were also lucky enough to experience a Rugby World Cup hosted by France, a Papal visit and the European Championships. All in all quite an eventful year!
How does living in the fair city of Liverpool compare to Paris?
Before I returned from Paris I would have said the cities were completely different. Having lived in Liverpool for almost all of my life I have noticed remarkable change since the city was European Capital of Culture 2008. Liverpool has become something of a creative hub, hosting diverse events such as the annual food festival in Sefton Park, the MOBO awards, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award and the Liverpool Biennial. There’s plenty going on which did not necessarily used to be the case. Still not as much as Paris perhaps, but it is exciting to be here!
What’s the Liverpool’s legal marketplace like right now?
Whilst not as prominent as in Manchester, the legal sector here remains an important part of the local economy. There are several international firms who have strong presences in the city alongside local firms with a growing reputation and niche firms achieving great recognition in their fields. They are all supported by the Liverpool Law Society, which has one of the largest memberships of a local law society in the country and which remains a respected and vocal contributor to national legal issues which have included most recently legal aid reform and changes to guideline hourly rates in civil litigation. The International Festival of Business 2014, which is due to take place in the city across June and July, will hopefully showcase to the world the quality and strength of the legal sector not just in Liverpool, but across Merseyside as a whole.
What’s the most interesting case you have dealt with?
I was lucky enough to work on a case which was part of a larger set of litigation against an international media firm recently. I found this particularly interesting as the case was high profile and the area of law was developing quickly. I benefitted from working alongside other lawyers who were at the forefront of the litigation and learned a great deal.
What has been the greatest achievement in your career to date?
As a qualified solicitor, the first time that I had a client come back to instruct me on a subsequent occasion. Litigation isn’t a necessity and for some it is a last resort. If a client you have previously advised wants to return, it shows that you must have handled a difficult situation well for them and that they are willing to trust you to deal with an issue again. Given the wealth of legal services providers on the market today, this is something that can give you confidence.
What would you have been if you weren’t a lawyer?
I’ve always enjoyed writing and as such I would enjoy a career as a journalist. It wouldn’t really matter what I was writing about – sports, politics, culture – as long as I was able to travel. Aside from that I have previously worked in catering and I think I would enjoy working as a chef – food is a passion and it would be another career that would involve travel.
What advice would you give to lawyers beginning their legal career today?
Make sure you do your research. There are a lot of different areas of law and types of practice you can go into. It is important to know what your options are at the outset. Don’t just follow the crowd or go with the flow as you may end up falling into something you do not particularly enjoy.
Set yourself aside from the crowd. There are so many people who are looking to secure training contracts and pupilages. It is important to have something different on your CV which will stick in the memory of prospective employers.
Be realistic. It can be a difficult career to get a foothold in, the work is hard and you may end up facing some disappointment. If you accept all of these things at the outset and you are prepared for them, you will be able to cope with them.
Finally, you’re the chair of the Merseyside Junior Lawyers’ Division. What’s the organisation’s main aim and how does it add value to its members?
We have two aims: to promote the interests of junior lawyers in the Merseyside area and to raise money for our designated charity which changes on an annual basis. We provide our members with opportunities to network with other young lawyers, seminars on career development and financial planning through partners, and educational opportunities, such as the popular District Judge Shadowing Scheme and talks with local legal education providers. So far we have been able to put on these events without charging our members an annual subscription fee (as a result of the generosity of sponsors such as BCL Legal) and we hope that this can continue.