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Emma Lilley |Sole Legal Counsel - SD Worx

  • LPC with MSc in Law, Business & Management, The University of Law
  • Bachelor of Laws (LLB), Staffordshire University
  • Sole Legal Counsel, SD Worx
  • Founder, In-house Potter
  • Commercial Solicitor, MAG (Airports Group)
  • Legal Counsel, WEX Europe Services Ltd


ULaw alumna Emma Lilley studied the LPC with MSc in Law, Business & Management at our Manchester campus and graduated in 2017. Since then, she has gone on to become a Sole Legal Counsel and found her own website, In-house Potter, to teach people more about working in-house. We caught up with Emma to discuss her career path and how we set her up for success.

I came into law through Clearing. I didn’t exactly choose it - it chose me. It was all that was available to me with my A-level grades, and I had to complete an additional foundation year.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do career wise, but I originally pursued music. I applied for music degrees and even went to visit the universities that I thought I’d be studying at. I felt comfortable following what I enjoyed; only now do I understand that it is ok not to know what job role you would like to pursue. Although I wouldn’t have believed this on A-Level results day, everything works out in the end.

I’m currently the Sole Legal Counsel at SD Worx. I am the main and only point of contact for all queries relating to UK business. I report into the wider international legal team, who meet regularly and share knowledge on matters we are working on.

My friend, Kat, has been a big inspiration to me. She also decided to pursue her own path but in private practice. Kat had an end goal in sight and has not only gone on to achieve this, but has done so despite facing adversity and different barriers to law. We bounced off each other during our studies and remain great friends now.

The proudest moment of my career so far has been founding my website, In-house Potter (IHP) and everything that has come with it. Not only have I grown myself, but I have received such great opportunities that I couldn’t have ever imagined. I am a part of the O Shaped Lawyer future board, have been named one of the ‘Women Who Will’ in 2021 and help others find true success in-house. This brings me so much fulfilment it makes my heart warm.

ULaw sets students up for success through the flexible options offered. I would not have been able to pursue my in-house journey in the way I did without the opportunity to study the LPC & MSc part-time at the weekend - allowing my studies to fit around my full-time role.

In the next few years, I think many more senior in-house lawyers will see the value of bringing in aspiring lawyers form an early point in their career. By embracing the SQE route and being a leader in this space, the in-house world will provide incredible opportunities while ensuring their teams are set for the future.

If I could offer my 18-year-old self any advice, I’d let her know that by following your own path, you are being brave, not rebellious. Don’t let deviating from the ‘norm’ make you feel any less worthy. Staying true to yourself is the best thing you can do, so let your light shine.

My advice for current students looking to work in-house is don’t let outdated advice put you off pursuing your goal. You can have a pure in-house career, and you do not have to work to others’ timings.

One of the benefits of the ULaw Alumni Network is being able to network with others in the profession who have also branched out further from the ‘day job’. It is great to see others use their learnings from ULaw to excel in other areas of their career, not just law.

I also attended An Evening with The Right Honourable Baroness Hale of Richmond DBE, which was incredibly inspiring. Hearing Lady Hale speak about how the role of women in the legal industry has evolved was eye-opening and provided a real sense of empowerment.

As part of the Alumni Network, I share In-house Potter updates and catch up with those who are also pursing their own projects alongside work. I have also engaged with a web designer who may be a great help for IHP in the future.

I think the most important thing that young lawyers need to do is embody the O shaped skills. These include courage, empathy and the ability to influence. Do not be afraid to stand out for these reasons. The future is O shaped; why not get ahead of the game and build these attributes now?

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