Damian Haynus is a Liability Negotiations Manager for Network Rail who completed the GDL and LPC at ULaw Guildford Campus from 2012 to 2014. We caught up with Damian to discuss how studying at ULaw helped him to reach his career goals.
I chose to study law because of the challenge and the unique subject matter. I had an ambition to get into the legal industry in whatever legal capacity and to qualify as a solicitor at some point.
I am currently a Liability Negotiations Manager at Network Rail. We advise the business on legal responsibilities related to wide range of matters affecting our infrastructure and land. We represent the company in committees, hearings and inquiries.
My first job was at an auction house for fine arts and antiques, I met the owner in a gym and he invited me for a coffee to the auction house the following day. The coffee turned into an impromptu interview and I was offered a job at the end. It was a great experience; on one hand, I dealt with very unique, beautiful and delicate items, on the other, it is a cut throat industry.
One person who inspired me to study law was Polish advocate Mr. Hejmowski, he defended both Nazi war criminals and, later in Stalinist Poland, also people persecuted by the oppressive Communist state. He delivered some fantastic defence speeches, also against capital punishment, and is a great example of a truly independent and courageous lawyer.
One of the highlights of my career so far was completing some high-profile cases/deals which were deemed, for some years, impossible or too complex, by good due diligence and sheer determination. This includes advice, negotiation and completion (including the underpinning regulatory processes) of several large-scale, complex, multi-party, infrastructure projects in Guildford and Wokingham. One of the key challenges was collaborative working with all stakeholders in an environment of conflicting interests, overcoming objections and challenges, including public inquiries and courts. In all cases, these were periods of very intense, yet exhilarating, work with no room for error but also a time of exemplary teamwork. I take a lot of pride in being involved, as being in the centre of these schemes gave me invaluable insight into the inner workings of larger transactions, it was also very accomplishing to be able to see these matters through to completion.
On a typical day I start working, between 7:30 – 8AM. On the train to work, I catch-up on emails and check my diary. I spend up to 3 days per week in the office as I ordinarily have meetings in various locations across the South East which is very time consuming. I am usually done around 5PM. I go to the gym, spend time with kids and put them to bed. Later in the evening, I usually do my reading and any prep for the following day.
Attending ULaw was a life-changing experience. It gave me the skills and confidence to hit the ground running and succeed in any work environment. I has also thought me few things about myself; that I could share full time employment, family commitments with full time GDL and LPC, remain organised and focused and achieve a good result.
I gained lots of qualities and skills at ULaw that I still use today; the ability to read and interpret law/legal documents, which entails good attention to detail and ability to absorb a lot of information in a relatively short span of time. Also, to speak and argue logically, to the point and with confidence.
I’d advise all students thinking of working for National Rail to have an open mind; this is not a law firm and we have been around for nearly two centuries – it is not just a business, it’s a culture. Think outside of the box, we are in the business of altering our surroundings in a significant way, it really helps. I know it is not a training contract but give it a chance, don’t treat it as a stepping stone into a career in the City, it is worth persevering. We are flexible; a proactive and able candidate can mould the job and career to suit their preferences and aptitude. You can take as much responsibility as you can handle, we will support you and do our best to empower you.