One of the great benefits about doing recruitment events is how much we get to know and get an insight into our trainee and solicitors’ lives. What they’re saying to students is so interesting and I thought it would be good to give an insight into Kate Keenan an Associate Solicitor in our Derby office.

How did you end up in Law?

I’m 8 years PQE and I an Associate in the Family team

My story is slightly rare in the fact that I’ve gone all the way through my career with no breaks. I did a three-year law degree, straight into my LPC in Cardiff. I was extremely fortunate to get the offer of a training contract in my second year of Uni, so I knew I had a job set up straight after the LPC.

I finished Uni right at the start of the credit crunch. There were about 100 of us on my LPC and only 2 of us that started our training contracts that year.  

Everyone else had either been deferred or just couldn’t get training contacts. . I’m pleased to say that all of my friends who were in that situation have now managed to get training contracts and moved on in their careers. The one thing to take from that is don’t give up! If we can do it in the midst of the credit crunch, then there is always hope.

So what did you do after University?

I did my training contract at a regional law firm called Higgs and Sons in Brierley Hill.  For me, the beauty was that they offered a slightly different training contract; with 4 seats of 4 months and the last 8 months being in the area you wanted to qualify into.  This meant I had 12 months experience in family when I qualified.

Due to the credit crunch, the firm released all trainees after completing their training contracts. I remember sitting there and I knew I wanted to do family. I had recruiters saying to me that they hadn’t seen an NQ family job in 5 years, so they suggested I re-think about what I wanted to do. Being the stubborn person that I am, I refused to give up as this was the area I wanted.  I was extremely fortunate that my boss at the time sent my CV out and I secured an NQ job from there.

Why did you choose a Regional firm to train?

I had a real passion towards private client work, so I did my training contract in a regional firm. I had quite a varied mix of specialisms, which again you get much more in the regional firms. I did a private client seat, then moved into commercial property, then did a family seat and then went into corporate. For me, all of the experience I had in the other areas are valuable to my day to day job now.

For example, when advising a client on a family matter, you might have a company and/or commercial property, so you need colleagues on the corporate or commercial side to help you with any transaction there.  Clients are always advised to consider their Will, so you need to refer them, if you’re in the big London firms, many are very niche, and you don’t have the support of the wider specialisms. I then spent 5 years at Shakespeare Martineau. However, I was working in Leicester and living near Derby, so the commute was killing me. It was taking an hour and a half to 2 hours to get to work, and let’s be honest, at the end of a long day that’s not what you want.

Why Geldards then?

I then moved to Derby and have now been at Geldards for two months. Although I’m fairly new to the firm I can actually say that it’s a friendly firm. In just two months, I can pretty much name everyone in my office, which for a big firm with around 80-100 people my office alone, that isn’t really a bad attempt! More importantly, you’re not just a number, you are a name. At all of the firms I’ve worked for, the CEO has known me by name. There aren’t many places you can say that.

So why a regional firm like Geldards? I guess one of the biggest things for me is work life balance whilst maintaining great quality work.

At the end of the day, we work hard to live well. If we spend all our days at work, what’s the point? Whilst generally it doesn’t happen; but if I walked out the door at 5pm no one would bat an eyelid. The latest I’ve ever had to work was probably 8/9pm and I’ve probably done that twice

For me, I wanted more of a work life balance. I don’t want to be working until 2am, having to get a taxi home and back in the office at 8am. That might be for some, but it certainly wasn’t for me.

If you’d like to find out more about the type of work that Kate Keenan and the rest of the Family department do 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 for a confidential discussion about your career