In this special blog, Major Family Law Legal Assistant Arabella Lawler explains how she came to work for the firm
Someone wise once said that as one door closes, another opens.
Until fairly recently, I was of the opinion that this was a somewhat clichéd and overused turn of phrase. Perhaps something a kind relative or friend might say to you after being rejected from a job or university application. However, it has not been until fairly recently that I feel I have fully began to grasp the meaning behind this truism.
Having graduated from the University of Cambridge earlier this summer, I have been left with what can only be described as a sense of loss (alongside other young graduates). After three of the most formative years spent in Cambridge, I found myself moving back to my hometown of Newcastle. I was going home, regressing backwards rather than forwards by getting a job, any job. Maybe I was paranoid, but the question on everyone’s lips seemed to be variations of “So what are you doing now?“. And the truth was, I wasn’t really sure.
I’m sure I wasn’t alone. The end of university is a huge rite of passage. And whilst the completion of higher education is an achievement, it also signals the beginning of a daunting period referred to as “real life”. Despite graduating from one of the most prestigious universities in the world, I had heard that several of my friend`s applications had already been rejected. For some of them, this was the first time they had faced this kind of rejection. It was at this point that it really sunk in that the world of work was completely different to the one we had been used to.
Over summer, I managed to secure myself a temporary summer retail position in Newcastle. Although it was paid and kept me busy, I couldn’t help but feel that my potential wasn’t being utilized and I wasn’t making the most of the valuable year out I had decided to take. Since I wasn’t jumping straight into a career, I wanted to strike the balance between taking the time to reflect and ensuring I was doing something worthwhile. The feelings of disenchantment only worsened and I decided to make a very spur-of- the-moment application for a year’s paid internship in Central London. I sent off my CV and cover letter and patiently waited. To my surprise I received a phone call inviting me to my first job interview. I was successful at and offered the position. I was thrilled. I had managed to secure a year-long internship in London and was set to start in less than two weeks. However, my initial elation at the job offer was soon superseded by anxiety. Once the dust had settled, I realized that I now had to find suitable accommodation in central London in less than a fortnight. After I crunched some numbers, I realized I had naively underestimated the cost of rent in London and was going to have to seriously rethink everything. It was a week of writing lists of pros and cons, seeking the counsel and wisdom of others and going back and forth on my decision. I just didn’t know what to do for the best!
Then, by chance one day, I was scrolling through LinkedIn and noticed a local law firm were looking for a legal assistant. As law was something I was considering I thought maybe I should apply. I will never forget the moment when I asked Joanne Major for her advice on whether to stay local or take up the London internship for my gap year. She simply said with a smile, “Why don’t you stay here and work for me?”.
And that’s what I did. I turned down the offer in London to stay in the North East and haven’t looked back. Although this decision seemed to be the opposite of what all my friends were doing, I knew it was the right thing for me. It has been through my position as a legal assistant at Major Family Law that I feel that I have taken back the reigns on my future. It has provided me with exactly what I was looking for – a place in which to take time out before applying for a long-term career, but also one which would provide me with valuable learning opportunities.
Working at Major Family Law has been a real game changer and helped me shift my mindset into one more positive and hopeful for the future. Here I am being exposed to this whole new world of family law. Through these valuable new experiences I am now considering law as a potential option and I am growing in my confidence after gaining the opportunity to work in such a professional environment. In what is often an awkward transitional period for students entering the world of work, I have been very fortunate to have been supported by everyone at the firm from the outset. At its heart, Major Family Law is a law firm which cares about its employees and provides an opportunity for everyone to play to their unique skillset. Every day tends to present its own unique challenges and it is these experiences that will help me when I embark on the next chapter of my career in the summer of 2020.
And so there really is some truth in the cliché: as one door closes, another opens.