Our newly appointed Partners, Sarah Houghton and Loretta Smith share with us their individual roads to Partnership and how they achieved their goal.
Sarah says that Law wasn’t always for her but when she realised that it was, she didn’t want to stop there!
It is not as though I can say that law was always for me as that simply wouldn’t be true. When I was at school, I dreamt of becoming a midwife. It was only by chance that I attended a taster day at my local college that I selected law because most of the other subjects were filled. I did thoroughly enjoy the limited time I had and it made me intrigued and curious to find out more.
I decided therefore to study law at A-level which only built on my enthusiasm for the subject. I went on to study law at University where I obtained not only a degree in law but also a Masters in Law and Practice (equivalent to the Legal Practice Course which is required to become a Solicitor). I knew when I was at University that I wanted to become a Solicitor having done mock client interviews, mock trials etc. but nothing could ever compare to doing it for real.
The big challenge once you have the academic qualifications is to actually find a job. If you want to be a Solicitor then you are really looking for one of the very sought after training contracts which are genuinely like gold dust!
I did a couple of jobs which were assistant roles for a few months before eventually being offered a role at Garratts as a paralegal in the clinical negligence/general litigation departments. I could tell from the outset that Garratts was a family firm and somewhere where I would hopefully ‘grow up’.
I was very fortunate to be offered a training contract within 6 months of my time at the firm. Qualifying as a solicitor really is such an achievement after so many years of hard work. I thoroughly enjoy the work that I do and nothing satisfies me more than succeeding in obtaining good results for my clients. Me being me, I also knew that I didn’t want it to stop there and had from an early stage, aspired to becoming a Partner one day. I am absolutely delighted with my new appointment as a Partner and I am very much looking forward to the new challenge ahead.
Loretta describes her road to Partnership as a ‘long and winding road’ but of course a very worth it one!
I knew from quite a young age that when I grew up I wanted to be a Solicitor. I also knew that university life didn’t appeal to me and being from a close family I really didn’t want to leave home.
After finishing my GCSE’s I stayed on at school in the sixth form. As soon as I moved into the sixth form I knew it wasn’t for me. I didn’t last a year before leaving. My early aspirations of becoming a Solicitor had probably been forgotten at that point. I started applying for jobs and I think at the time I would have taken anything. Fortunately for me, I got an interview for an Office Junior post with a firm of Solicitors who had their main office in Manchester and other branch offices across Greater Manchester. To this day I can still remember that interview. I was interviewed by the Managing Partner’s secretary. I was taken on a tour of the offices which to me seemed huge. Following the interview I got a call from the Managing Partner’s secretary and she told me I hadn’t got the job at the Manchester office but they wanted to offer me a post as an Office Junior at one of the branch offices which happened to be virtually around the corner from my parent’s home. I didn’t hesitate in accepting the job and for me that’s where my very long road to becoming a Partner began.
I progressed from Office Junior to Receptionist. I started going to college in the evenings. At first I completed a para-legal course and I then went on to do the ILEX course (Institute of Legal Executives). Whilst I was mid-way through my studies I was promoted to the role of Legal Clerk and from there one of the family Solicitors took me her under her wing and this is where my love for family law began.
Once I qualified as a Legal Executive I was promoted again and I became a fee earner in my own right in the family department. I quickly realised that I had a keen interest in dealing with cases concerning children. I really enjoyed the work in relation to private law disputes involving children and I realised that this was where my passion was.
I wasn’t really looking to change jobs but one day I saw an advertisement for a Local Authority Legal Officer in the child care department. I decided to apply for the post and I was offered the job which I accepted. I worked as a Legal Officer in the child care department for a number of years. During this time I worked as part of a close knit team dealing mainly with care proceedings. I stayed working at the Local Authority for 18 years in total. During this time I was promoted to various roles including Senior Legal Executive and Deputy Team Manager. I also resumed my studies again and I am proud to say I qualified as a Solicitor in 2011. I still worked full time and I had to go to University but I did this part time in the evenings after work and then whilst completing the LPC (Legal Practice Course) I was supported with day release.
After working for the Local Authority for 18 years I came full circle and returned to private practice joining the child care team at Garratts in November 2017. I remember coming for my interview at Garratts. I immediately felt at home and I instantly knew I wanted to work at Garratts. During my interview the feeling that this was somehow meant to be was reinforced when talking through my career history it became apparent that Stephen Garratt, the Senior Partner had worked at the very same firm as me when I started out as an Office Junior all those years ago.
I felt incredibly honoured when I was asked to become a Partner at Garratts at the start of this month. As you can see my journey to becoming a Partner has been a very long and winding road but I really do believe if you genuinely set your heart on something you can achieve it!