My route to law has taken many twists and turns, unsurprising for an indecisive person in their 20s. However, despite the cliché, at the core has always been the desire to “help people”. I moved from a human rights charity in Jordan to the GDL, and then to Russell-Cooke (RC), chosen because of their great range of seats which would allow me to try new areas, but also delve deeper into areas I knew I loved.
I am now nearing the end of my second seat in the employment team. Topics that frequently arise include disability, mental health, LGBTQ+, religion, race and sex discrimination. Covering areas such as these, I can safely say it has exceeded my expectations as an area of law which has a truly positive impact on people’s lives. I hope that these two highlights of work I have undertaken give a useful insight into the department.
The first task I had in this seat was sitting in on a conference with counsel the day before a two-week liability hearing I was due to attend. Having not done a litigation seat yet, it was a shock to the system – I was not used to conflict and was thrown in at the deep end. The matter ended up settling at midnight the night before the hearing after much negotiation between both sides. Although this was disappointing in that I did not get to attend the trial, it was a really good outcome for the client and the negotiation process was fascinating. I should point out that I was not asked to sit on the call until midnight – the work-life balance at RC is genuinely very good!
I have been lucky enough to attend three court hearings during the past five months, one of which was in person. I recently took a note at a five-day liability hearing, where we acted for the claimant in an unfair dismissal claim which included claims for disability discrimination and victimisation. It was a fantastic learning experience and I loved watching the cross-examination of witnesses, although it was clearly a very difficult experience for our client. In the breaks, I would often arrange calls for our barrister, our client and the partner on the case. Sitting in on these, I realised how both lawyers dealt so sensitively with the client and made them feel safe at a really distressing moment in their life.
I also attended an appeal hearing at the Employment Appeal Tribunal in person for our employer client who was appealing a sex discrimination claim against them. It was very interesting to experience a dispute from a different perspective. As this was an appeal, it examined complex questions on law such as the test which should be applied when looking into the ACAS uplift.
Diverse, supportive and people-centred
Employment law is a truly diverse area - it gives you the opportunity to learn technical details about different industries, take part in both contentious and non-contentious work, and it is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to work closely with people.
The employment team at RC is incredibly supportive. There is always someone I can ask for help, and they all take the time to make sure I have understood tasks fully. As you can probably tell, I would highly recommend an employment seat at Russell-Cooke!