Recently we’ve had the opportunity to do an event based around the GDL so we’ve heard some more about Rebecca Stojak. Becca is a Litigation Associate based in our Derby office and came into Law through a slightly different track than the usual LLB, LPC and Training Contract.
How did you end up in Law?
When I left school, I studied Biomolecular science and Biochemistry at UMIST in Manchester – specialising in genetics. During my studies I specialised in reptile genetics, I actually invented a method of extracting DNA from a shed reptile skin. Before this method the only way to extract DNA from them was to either do a tail snip or to extract blood from them, neither of which reptiles really like, which is understandable.
I then did the final two years of the 4-year degree in forensic science at the Clifton campus at Nottingham Trent University. When I’d joined that degree I had to do the criminal law module, in order to pass that degree and I loved it (which I was not expecting at all!) When I was doing my A levels, I did science, that’s what I was good at, I did biology, chemistry and physics. I’d never really looked at another route other science as that was what I was at and I thought that was what I want to do.
So what did you do after University?
When I finished my forensics degree, I still thought that I wanted to go into research and work in a laboratory setting, unfortunately it was very much a case of “shh be quiet, sit over there, go do your work and be quiet”.
Telling me to be quiet and sit in a corner of a lab working on my own just wasn’t me – I hated it, don’t get me wrong for some people that’s perfect and they love it, for me that didn’t work. So, then I had a very big soul search, I didn’t want to go into teaching full time, or research, so I had a look at what I could do instead. I spoke with the career’s advisors at NTU, who helped me look into what was important to me (a challenging job, problem solving, using my analytical skills and helping people and being a valued member of part of a team). That’s when they asked me if I had thought of converting to law because I had loved doing the criminal law module, plus a career in law would tick all of the boxes for what was important to me.
I then went to Nottingham Law School and did the GDL which is basically a law degree in a year, I loved it! There weren’t lots of people from a science background doing it (there was one other person in my intake), the majority of people had done more humanity-based degrees (Geography, History, English that sort of thing) but actually the skills that I’d learnt from doing a science based degree were really transferrable to law.
The analytical side of things was so important, when I’d come to a problem on my degree, I had to apply other people’s thinking and knowledge, then put forward methodologies and then work through the problem logically. Those skills are all things I use in Law even today; when a client comes to me with a problem it’s like a big knotted tangled ball of wool and my job is to work with the client, try and tease it all out all of the information and their goals, come up with a solution, a way forward and apply the law and get to a result for the client.
How did you specialise in Equine and Agriculture then?
I’m horsey, I had my first pony two weeks before I was born, literally there’s a photo of me the day out of hospital in the basket saddle on Gypsy Dancer, so I’ve always ridden – I still ride now, albeit my Irish Sports Horse, Harry, is a bit bigger than Gypsy Dancer was! When I started my GDL suddenly everyone was coming out of the woodwork saying “oh Bec, I have a problem with the horse, you do law now, what do I do, how can I solve this issue?”
When I started practicing, I started doing more and more Equine Law, but I also do Agricultural Law, my husband’s father was a farmer, his brother is a pig farmer, he grew up on the farm, so I’ve got that knowledge as well.
Literally no two days of mine are ever the same, for me I like variety, I can have my whole day planned out. I think that I know exactly what I I’m going to be doing that day, I get one phone call, or one email and it completely changes everything. Normal cases for me, I deal with a lot of misrepresentation of horses. For example, where someone has bought a horse and the seller says that the horse is amazing it can jump a meter and when they get it home and it can’t even jump over small cross pole. Depending on the person that the horse was bought from depends on the buyer’s rights – I work through the problem with the client to come to the best solution available.
Why do you enjoy your job?
For me I don’t want to be stuck behind a desk. If you’d have asked me when I was in university what a solicitor was, I’d have said they’re in a suit and they’re going to be stuck behind a desk with mountains of paperwork. That’s not me, my days are totally varied and I don’t feel like I’m ‘stuck’ behind my desk, I obviously do paperwork – that is part of the job! but I also go to court, I do my own advocacy, I talk at various events, I’m go to client’s farms and yards and I write for national publications such as Your Horse and Horse and Hounds. My job is really is completely diverse – no two days are ever the same for me, I get to do a fulfilling job while advising people on matters that I am passionate about and really understand – I love it, it really is completely different to what my initial impression of what a solicitor should be was!
If you’d like to find out more about the type of work that Becca Stojak does head on over to our website here or get in touch with us!
If you’d like to find out about the positions we have available at the moment so that you can join the sort of firm that appreciates people and skill get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential discussion about your career