From School to Solicitor – Amy Herring
20 November 2014 by Amy Burton
Over the coming weeks we are going to be posting accounts from our staff at FJG, displaying the range of possible routes into law. This week we follow the story of Amy Herring, a Solicitor based in our Baddow Road Office in Chelmsford…..
From School to Solicitor
I have always counted myself as lucky that right from the word ‘go’, I knew the career path that I wanted to follow. I couldn’t tell you what made me what to pursue a career in Law, as I am not entirely sure myself! None of my family have a career in Law, so I can’t say that I had any sort of legal role model.
Nonetheless, I decided that a good place to start was AS Law at sixth-form college. Whilst I enjoyed the topics of the course, I found it difficult to piece everything together and understand how it would translate to real-life issues. I ended up with a grade C in the course, but I didn’t let it crush my ambition, as I had heard that studying Law at this level was nothing like what it would be like at University. Given this, I decided that I would concentrate on the topics that I both enjoyed and achieved in academically. I left college with A-Levels in Sociology, Geography and Art Textiles. My grades meant that I got the UCAS points required to read Law at the University of Kent in Canterbury, my first choice.
The University certainly didn’t disappoint. I embraced all that student life had to throw at me – Fresher’s week passed in somewhat of a blur!
I soon became aware of the Kent Law Clinic, a legal centre operated within the University. I joined as a Receptionist for the Clinic and soon got a good overview of the centre and the work involved. The Clinic was run by four solicitors and students studying Law were given the opportunity to take on their own clients under the supervision of the solicitors. The Clinic provided free legal advice and assistance to members of the local community who would not have otherwise been able to afford legal advice. In return, the clients accepted that their case would be worked on by a student under supervision. It wasn’t until my third year that I could apply to work for the Clinic, as part of my law degree, and thankfully I was one of thirty given a place at the Clinic.
After graduating with a strong degree and having decided against taking a gap year to do some travelling (through fear of not wanting to return!), I started a few months later at the University of Law. Apart from the glitz and glam of studying in Central London, the centre also offered the more commercially based areas of law. At this point I didn’t exactly know which area of Law I was most interested in, so I went with quite an open mind.
Studying at the University of Law was a whole different ball game from my studies at University. In the first 6 months I studied the required topics, such as accounting, ethics and tax issues. I then went on to specialise in Wills, Trusts & Probate, Employment and Commercial Law.
I graduated from the College with a Distinction in Post Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice and I was absolutely elated. All the hard years of effort had finally paid off and it was like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders; I knew I was well on my way to doing something that thankfully I was actually half good at! But after recovering from that high, I soon came back to earth with a bang as I realised I had to actually find somebody to employ me.
Fortunately I applied at just at the right time for a position within FJG and started with them just a couple of months after finishing College. I was so nervous about suddenly having to apply all of the knowledge that I had learnt over the last few years. I knew I could write an exam paper on a topic but I had no idea at how to translate that into dealing with a client’s needs and ‘getting the job done’.
Part of the course of going into full time work for the first time, is to soon realise that you are not an expert at everything; that throughout the majority of your career you will be in one big learning curve and pulling upon the support of your colleagues – regardless of what sector you work in.
Standing in the Law Society buildings in London, being admitted into the Roll of Solicitors of England & Wales, was one of the proudest moments of my life. I could even see the relief in my parents’ eyes that their financial (and emotional!) investment in my education had actually come to fruition…at long last!
Having been at FJG for over three years now, looking back at my academic achievements feels like a lifetime ago; having to worry about exams and dissertations is one aspect that I certainly do not miss. But all of the stress, sleepless nights and sheer determination got me to where I am today – a position that I spent years striving for and one that has proved to have been well worth the journey.