'No wasn't an answer that I was willing to accept'

I was a newly qualified lawyer who was called to the bar of Trinidad and Tobago in 2003 when I came to London to requalify as a solicitor.

London is more demanding than the Caribbean for a variety of reasons; I was nonetheless determined to requalify, and I knew that getting a ‘no’ was simply not an option.

To requalify, I was required to take the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme (QLTS) which was expensive and time consuming. After having successfully completed the QLTS, I was told by the Law Society that I needed 10 more months experience in a new area of law which I hadn’t yet been exposed to. I felt that the message here was to pack my bags and go home because I wasn’t sure who would give me a job in an area of law on which I had no experience but, again, ‘no’ wasn’t an option.

I searched the internet for potential employers and sent no less than 120 emails to HR departments of law firms all around the country and, in return, received many generic responses stating that, ‘While we think you are good candidate, we cannot offer you experience at this time’. Again, ‘no’ was not an option.

I continued to think positively, believe in myself, and practise mindfulness every day. After many weeks, I finally got that call to say, ‘We would like to employ you in our litigation department and will give you the 10 months experience which you require to be admitted to the roll of solicitors in England and Wales’. After some 19 years of being admitted as a dual-qualified solicitor and proudly appointed as a partner at Seddons LLP, my advice to my younger self would be to be confident in my abilities and skills and less sensitive.

My message to young female lawyers is that while the profession still falls short on issues such as gender inequality, the legal profession is still vast enough to provide you with a forum to make your legal mark through hard work, perseverance, showing initiative, and fully embracing the skillset you bring to the table. Finally, my motto has been that you can’t be a success if you have failure thoughts — so believe that you can, irrespective of the obstacles placed in your path.

Are you a woman in the financial services industry keen to get your voice heard? Contact [email protected] — we would love to chat!

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