Matthew Channon, a law lecturer at Exeter University, recently started the ‘My Path to Law’ hashtag on Twitter.
This prompted a whole host of lawyers to share their stories, detailing how they came to be in practice against the backdrop of a whole variety of backgrounds.
In the spirit of #mypathtolaw, our most recently appointed Partners, Ian Anderson and Gareth Naylor, share their stories below. Ian and Gareth came to practice in different ways, but their anecdotes are equally interesting.
Partner, Head of Regulatory Law and Complex Crime
It was 1996. I was 17 and at college in Middlesbrough. I was secretly infatuated with a girl called Claire. One day we were sat in the library completing our UCAS forms. She said she was going to study law at university. So, because for no other reason than I fancied her, I applied to the same Universities as her for the same course. My parents, possibly unaware of my ulterior motives, were thrilled that I’d chosen law. On parents’ evening my English teacher had suggested I apply to study linguistics at Cambridge. That sounded both expensive and nonsensical to my mum and dad, but Law was seen as a more distinguished profession.
So Claire and I went on many open days together; to places like Durham, Norwich, Hull and Liverpool. The towns and cities were an irrelevance to me and I had only a passing interest in the course. Sadly Claire was accepted into Durham and I was not. So, I disappeared off to Hull, to a world of tort and jurisprudence, with classic Adidas and rare vinyl as extracurricular interests. Sadly, the heady days of student life ended. It was time to get a suit, shoes, and a new ringtone. Time to ditch the Adidas.
I applied for jobs in Leeds (because it had great bars and clubs) and somehow I managed to get a paralegal position at a leading law firm. My boss was a powerful solicitor called Mr Manning. He worked me hard but I enjoyed it. He introduced me to a young barrister along the way. The barrister and I won a case at the Court of Appeal.
I was hooked. The law became an increasingly important part of my life. An opportunity arose in Bradford and I took it.
The firm in Bradford did well. We were new on the legal scene and people scoffed at our silly name and our business model but soon we made headlines. I cut my teeth in the cop shop, down the Mags, in the cells. Hardcases and hard cases. Decisions on the fly, no time to prepare, Saturday court, get on with it son! The young barrister and I grew older. I got my own gown and followed him onto counsel’s row. In 2012 we won a huge trial in Birmingham and the work flowed in.
In 2014 an opportunity arose in Leeds. A chance to lead not follow. Full circle. Back to Wellington street. An opening for me to do it my way with Ison Harrison. I took another chance. It was hard work. No clients and no safety net. Gradually the momentum built and the department grew. I’m a partner now, but not sure how. I didn’t set out on this path expecting it to lead me here but I’m glad I chose to keep walking, even after I didn’t get into Durham.
Partner and Head of Personal Injury
My work experience at school consisted of taking part in P.E lessons for two weeks whilst shadowing my favourite teacher, Mr Carpenter.
Sport and in particular rugby league were all I was interested in; I got good enough grades but I never had any intention of pursuing any kind of professional office -type career.
I left school aged 16, intending to be a full time professional rugby player.
I started playing at Wigan RLFC in their academy ranks but a fractured jaw and cheek bone ended this relationship within 6 months. I was however delighted to sign professional terms with Hunslet RLFC on a semi pro/part time basis and I enjoyed ten seasons with them from 1996 to 2006.
When I signed terms with Hunslet RLFC my father suggested, because training took place on evenings, that I took on a light duties job to supplement my income (one that did not make me too tired for rugby!). I therefore secured a job at Lupton Fawcett in their post room, opening incoming mail each morning. I remained at Lupton Fawcett for 2 years rising up the ranks becoming a new claims operative, Head of New Claims then trainee fee earner.
I was then made redundant but secured a position almost immediately with Ison Harrison in August 2001, again as a trainee fee earner.
In 2003 I had a nasty injury which inevitably ended by rugby career.
I therefore embarked on the ILEX course, doing the first 2 years on a Tuesday and Thursday night at Park Lane College.
I have since moved up the ranks at Ison Harrison becoming a top fee earner within the firm, the Manager of the Personal Injury Department, winning our ‘Lawyer of the Year’ in 2017 and becoming Partner in 2018.
I feel that I have been very fortunate to end up where I have, but it has not been without hard work,determination and invaluable support from my colleagues and equity partners.
We hope that you’ve enjoyed Ian and Gareth’s insights.