“I knew I wanted to work in the law and applied to study for an LLB Law degree choosing Universities with a campus set up. Canterbury is a beautiful city with two universities so there was a good student scene; it was an obvious choice for the shortlist. Whilst not being a redbrick Uni, the Law School had a very good reputation and the Law Clinic appealed to me as a practical way to gain experience. As well as rankings, I looked as student satisfaction and it rated as a place where students were happy.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of the University, both at the Law School and the University overall. I chose optional modules which focused my general areas of interest including Healthcare and the Law, Human Rights and Environmental Law; areas which also drew me to Leigh Day.
“One particular memory I have was my Environmental Law lecturer advocating for a field trip to a landfill site to fully appreciate the damaging impact of individual waste management on the environment – there was a moment of silence as we tried to gauge whether he was serious or joking, my 20 year old self hoped the latter; law in action! The field trip didn’t go ahead, but in hindsight it was a brilliant idea and one my 36 year old self thinks everyone should appreciate the impact of their own waste. I also remember interesting debates on controversial issues such as abortion and euthanasia.
“I cannot recall any regrets from my time at Kent. In the time following my degree when I was trying to gain work experience, I wished I had taken more advantage of the careers support and investigated any links Kent Law School had with firms, but I got where I needed to be in the end.
“I was awarded the Kent Law School Prize for Special achievement, which was an incredible honour to receive.
“After graduating, I took two years off to go travelling – something I would highly recommend for anyone following a career path in law. It won’t be news to many that life in law is as demanding as it is rewarding, and taking time out before starting your journey definitely gave me time off to recharge.
“I then completed my LPC at the College of Law in Bloomsbury, and worked as a paralegal for a year in another niche PI firm before starting my training contract at Leigh Day solicitors. My interest in international issues in human rights and healthcare was a natural fit with the firm.
“After completing my training contract, I chose to specialise in industrial disease claims – particularly those involving asbestos exposure. Since 2008 I’ve been acting solely for individuals and their families who are affected by a disease or injury, and represented these families in inquest proceedings.
“My case load is predominantly made up of mesothelioma cases which is a devastating, terminal asbestos related disease. There is no cure and it can be particularly aggressive, however there are advancements in medical treatment which have brought more hope to sufferers when they receive the diagnosis. Whilst some may be deterred from working in an area due to the sad prognosis of clients, it is exactly that what drives me and makes working in this field so rewarding. I think the best part is being able to talk to people from all walks of life – and of course, the detective work that goes along with the job.
“My degree helped inspire me to follow the non-commercial route and showed me that law was not just “contracts”. There is a very human side to the law, and its ability to allow individuals to seek justice. The modules I studied at Kent exposed me to areas of the law which went on to influence my further education (a Masters in Human Rights) and ultimately my choice of firm.
“The best advice I can give to students studying law is to keep updated on news as much as you can (the Law Gazette for legal news is great). Also try to get as much work experience as you can whilst you’re studying – it’ll help give you a real steer as to what area you want to specialise in and is such an important part of building your network and contacts. It can be difficult to get work experience in law firms so think outside the box; I wasn’t getting anywhere writing to law firms so, given my interest in healthcare, I undertook work experience with the Healthcare Commission (now called the CQC) and a Mental Health PCT. It will give you a rounder CV and will give you something to talk about in an interview.”
If you would like to view Claire’s career profile and contact her please click here: https://www.leighday.co.uk/Our-experts/Senior-staff/Claire-Spearpoint