My journey here has been unconventional – and pretty rocky. I come from a lower socio-economic background, I was state school educated and my family claimed free school meals. After leaving secondary school with below average GCSEs, I completed NVQs in Electrical Installation.
I worked as an apprentice and an Electrician for around eight years before becoming unemployed because I needed to care for my new-born daughter. I then decided to try something more challenging. So, I completed an access course to study law full-time. I studied while looking after my three children and working full-time as a Pension Wise Adviser at my local Citizens Advice Bureau.
There were still more bumps in the road. I became homeless during my undergraduate exams which affected my first-year results. Then, in my second year, I was diagnosed with dyslexia and dyspraxia. Despite that, I won the Sweet and Maxwell Law prize 2014-2015 for outstanding performance in the LLB Year 2; and The Oxford University Press Law Prize 2015-2016 at Birkbeck University for outstanding performance in the Law of the European Union.
I went on to complete an LLM in International Economic Law, Justice and Development, again while working full time and juggling parental responsibilities.
I then worked as a caseworker for a youth charity where I first met people from Hogan Lovells. They provided pro bono services to us and I was impressed that every one of them was friendly, eager to get stuck in and excited about helping people. With the help of one of their senior associates I applied for a place on the summer vacation scheme. On the morning of the assessment centre I had to take one of my children to hospital so had to cancel at the last minute. I thought I’d blown my chances, but graduate recruitment quickly emailed me back sympathising and ready to rearrange the assessment date.
From trainees to partners, everyone I met during the scheme was welcoming and genuinely interested in me. A highlight was when I sent out a generic email asking for help with some research and had a reply from the head of global billing in the US. He’d copied in a senior member of the team in the UK who met with me for an hour to help. Bear in mind, this was not billable hours and was for a vacation scheme assessment. It shows how at all levels Hogan Lovells is a great place to work.
I think it’s essential that firms practice contextual recruitment. Without it, I may never have gained a training contract at Hogan Lovells due to my earlier grades. I’m looking forward to starting next year and doing truly excellent work with amazing people.