What connects these four statements: To Kill A Mockingbird; I wanted to help people; on a whim; and LA Law? They are all responses from Woolley & Co family lawyers to the question: What made you want to work in the legal profession?
Too often solicitors are vilified unfairly. Of course, I would say that wouldn’t I? I am one. However, it in a recent survey – “Ten Most Hated Professions in the UK” – lawyers were seventh in the list.
I think this a little harsh but I do take the point that the image of a hard-nosed lawyer is often the one which is pushed in the media. In my experience, the reality is very different.
Many lawyers get into the profession because they want to help people or have been through something traumatic themselves so understand the difficulties and want to make a difference. Others have family links, some have a love of words and language, or are good at problem solving.
In order to get a little more insight into what motivates someone to work in family law specifically, I decided to ask colleagues at Woolley & Co why they got into the industry. The answers were diverse, as the sample above shows. However, a recurring theme was that they wanted to help people. This does not sit comfortably with the hard-nosed lawyers and “7th most hated profession” we hear about. Is it possible that lawyers are only human after all?
There were, of course, some more unusual responses. I won’t give other people’s names here – look out for our posts on Facebook to give you an insight into the individual characters in the team. But do you know which one, for instance, wanted to be a police officer but ended up a solicitor?
For my own part, I wanted to join the army but was discouraged by my parents who wanted me to apply for a ‘proper’ job. So I did. I applied for the job of “office girl” at a legal firm (this was the 1970s – quite rightly that wouldn’t be allowed now). I told the interviewer I liked drinking beer and playing rugby and I got the job! I found, to my surprise, that I was very good at it and then took the many years of training required. With hindsight, I have always hated “big” people bullying “small” people and felt this gave me a chance to be on the side of those who needed it.
What started out internally as a bit of fun might give those who don’t have the best opinion of solicitors pause for thought and maybe help the industry start to shed an unfair image. We are human, after all.
Woolley & Co, family law specialists