International Women’s Day 2022 – Sian Walker

8th March 2022

International Women’s Day 2022 – Sian Walker

international women's day sian

 

Today is International Women’s Day and this year, to celebrate our talent throughout the firm, we speak to Trainee Solicitor, Sian Walker, as she shares with us her experience at Gotelee so far, any challenges she has faced and words of wisdom for other women starting out in law.

 

 

Please tell us about your training at Gotelee. How you got the opportunity, your career path so far and what your position entails?

Although I only joined the firm 5 months ago as a Trainee Solicitor, I truly feel part of the Gotelee family. Already I have learnt so much from the high partner interaction and supervision and I would highly recommend Gotelee’s training programme to anyone. From day one, I was working on client cases and due to the trust, opportunities and great mentorship, I have seen a huge improvement within my work and legal skills and have developed great relationships with my colleagues (everyone is so welcoming and approachable).

My current seat is within employment law meaning my daily tasks include attending client meetings, drafting client advice letters, and drafting settlement agreements and contracts of employment. I have also had responsibility for my own change of name deeds’ files, which has enabled me to have the experience of having my own file (under supervision) and deal with a matter from beginning to end.

After being aware of Gotelee’s amazing local reputation for many years, I discovered Gotelee’s training opportunity via the Graduate Recruitment Tab on the website. After completing the interview process and speaking with Caroline Bellett, I received the great news that I was selected for the trainee position (I would be lying if I said I didn’t cry with happiness).

After completing my 2 years’ worth of training I will finally qualify as a solicitor which is a minimum 6-year journey comprising of:

3 years studying an Undergraduate Law Degree
1 year studying the Legal Practice Course
2 years of training within a law firm + the completion of the Professional Skills Course.

Are there any obstacles you have had to overcome so far as a woman in law?

As the saying goes ‘everything in life happens for a reason’, therefore I truly believe the word obstacle is redundant. Like any individual, I worked through unexpected events and challenges however these hurdles have often given me greater determination to succeed. My biggest motivation came from my son who entered my life when I was 16 years of age, this meant he has supported me through my entire legal journey to date and the majority of my A-Levels. Caring for a little one did place further restrictions on my study time however he became the drive and motivation I needed to succeed. My grades and education prior to being a mother were never great however after he entered my life, I became a top-grade achieving student.

Studying and now working full-time with a little one has its challenges. The school closures with COVID-19 meant there were tough long days to ensure exam revision was completed and coursework was submitted on time; however, with family support my greatest ‘obstacle’ became my greatest strength.

Are there any women that inspire you?

Two names spring to mind when I think about inspiring women: Lady Hale and Michelle Obama. Both these two women represent change and authority, with Lady Hale being the first female Justice of the Supreme Court (later the President of the Supreme Court) and Michelle Obama being the first African American First Lady of the United States who empowered women, encouraged better education for women and equal rights. Lady Hale and Michelle Obama are inspirational in showing that women are a force to be reckoned with and are to be respected. Both these women challenge the status quo and inspire me to make any small change I can.

Do you have any advice for other women also beginning their career in law?

In terms of improving your chances of obtaining a legal position I highly recommend seeking any legal opportunity available. The legal profession is extremely competitive and any experience you can obtain will do wonders for your CV. This can be through applying for vacation schemes within law firms however I found my most valuable experience came from volunteering long term with local advisory charities such as the Citizen Advice Bureau or University Law Clinics.

Secondly, I would advise all students to apply for legal opportunities and training contracts early. Spend time altering each application to the firm you are applying to: research their ethos, their recent charitable work and apply this specific information to your application. Firms receive hundreds and thousands of applications, make yours stand out! Due to the high volume of competition do not take rejection to heart, just keep trying you will get there.

Finally, by being a teen parent I received the harshest judgement and whilst everyone has their own challenges and hurdles, my journey into the legal profession taught me the only ‘obstacle’ that is in the way of anyone following their dreams and ambitions is their own belief in themselves.

The quote I find most inspiring and I would like to share with other women is… “She believed she could, so she did!”

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