The legal sector is incredibly varied, providing an almost endless number of opportunities for legal professionals. When I started out as a solicitor more than 20 years ago, I never would have imagined it would lead me to where I am today.
After a slightly unusual, but very informed and interesting apprenticeship, where I trained under a number of solicitors including Pierse Mehigan and Paul Meagher, I qualified in 1993 and I moved quickly into working as an in-house solicitor. I spent three years with Complete Business Solutions, a small software development company. It was a ‘roll up your sleeves’ environment and, as well as being the company’s solicitor, I assisted in the development and localisation of software products for small and medium sized businesses.
I then spent three years with a much more traditional business, Tedcastles Oil Products, and gained great experience in wide ranging commercial law matters. I really enjoyed Tedcastles and would have stayed there longer were it not for an amazing offer I received from Greencore plc in 2002 - one I just simply could not refuse.
Greencore was going through huge growth and change when I joined. I spent eight great years there, working under another solicitor Caroline Bergin, Company Secretary, as part of a dynamic management team dealing with significant changes, including overseas acquisitions and disposals.
In Greencore, I was involved in reorganising corporate structure, assisting the Board of Directors implement changes to how the company operated. I had pivotal involvement in HR matters and, as a result, gained in-depth experience in this whole area.
The HR Department
I took over a business called ‘The HR Department’ in 2006 and I have remained at the helm ever since. Employment law, employee relations and staff retention all play a huge part in the survival and success of businesses big and small. We provide the expertise and support that start-ups and small to medium organisations require in HR, (including solicitors firms) and we help clients to properly manage their staff by fulfilling their HR function, without the overhead of a full time HR professional.
Having worked in private practice and as an in-house solicitor I always advise young solicitors to see if they can spend some time in a client’s business working, even on a temporary basis, as an in-house solicitor. It gives you both an appreciation for seeing the challenges your clients face on a day to day basis, as well as giving you an insight into how your legal practice looks from a client’s perspective!
I also recommend developing a habit of networking extensively and of publicising the skills you have and anything else that you can uniquely offer. I’m regularly on radio, as a contributor on The Last Word and on Down to Business with Bobby Kerr. I’m also active on LinkedIn and other social networks. My experience is that, while these kinds of involvements can deliver business benefit, the real gain is to your own personal development and to the friendships made.
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