Eri Horrocks originally thought she was headed for a career in corporate law, but the family law modules during her studies made her reconsider. Now an associate family solicitor at Hunters, she couldn’t imagine doing anything else. We spoke to Eri about her time at The University of Law, the work she’s involved with, and the advice she would offer to law students to help them succeed.
My parents planted the idea of becoming a lawyer in my mind when I was young, and it stuck with me. The more I thought about a career in law, the more I felt the skills involved played to my strengths. When it came to deciding what to study at university, law was the natural choice for me. After completing my degree, I weighed up the different LPC providers. I ultimately decided on The University of Law because of its reputation, the opportunity to be taught by qualified lawyers, and the choice of locations to study the course. I have no regrets about choosing them.
I met a lovely group of people on the LPC who I’m still friends with now. An added benefit is they’re now part of my professional network. The course itself obviously played a big part in shaping my career, but the people I met at the University have also encouraged me along the way.
I initially wanted to be a corporate lawyer, but as my studies progressed, and I attended a number of careers fairs, I was drawn towards areas of law aimed at private individuals. I enjoyed my family law elective on the LPC, so I started submitting applications to firms with family departments. My first seat at Hanne & Co, where I trained, was in family law and I loved it. I knew pretty quickly that this was the area of law for me.
I’m currently an associate family solicitor at Hunters. Put simply, my job is to help people through family related legal issues – whether it be divorce, children, or cohabitees separating – as smoothly as possible. A lot of my day-to-day work involves interacting with people; clients, solicitors, barristers, and other professionals we bring in to provide expert input. This is a part of my job I really enjoy. As an associate I work closely with partners on their cases, by drafting documents and letters and acting as another point of contact for the client. The partners at Hunters are brilliant at encouraging junior members of the team, like me, to share our views about strategy and the advice given to clients, which is great.
One case I found particularly interesting was the recently reported case of O'Donnell v O'Donnell. I was happy to have been able to help Lucy O’Donnell in the case. We successfully made an application to commit Mr O’Donnell to prison for failing to comply with a disclosure order. Committal applications are relatively unusual in family proceedings, and they’re very technical; add in some international considerations and it became quite a complex case. It was hugely rewarding to be able to achieve a good result for the client. I can’t imagine doing any other job.
What is most important is doing the best possible job for my clients, but I must admit it’s a bit of a career highlight to have had my first mention in The Legal 500. The directories aren’t everything, and there are plenty of great lawyers who don’t feature, but it’s an additional resource clients use to discern who they might want to instruct, so I’m pleased to be a Legal 500 Recommended Lawyer.
It can be difficult to maintain a good work/life balance if you don’t set boundaries for yourself, but I think it’s important to make this a priority to avoid burnout. Partners at both Hanne & Co and Hunters set a good example; taking time off, not checking emails whilst on holiday, working hard but not letting the job take over completely. We all need to rest to do our job well.
It sounds obvious, but my advice for students looking for a training contract is to get as much experience as you can. Many small to medium sized firms like to recruit people with paralegal experience, so it’s worth trying to secure a paralegal position and have that on your CV.
There are also other ways of gaining experience, such as by taking advantage of Pro Bono opportunities like those offered by The University of Law, going to your local Crown Court and observing hearings, doing vacation schemes, or volunteering for charities, like Advocate. Also, don’t be afraid of asking for advice or help from lawyers who are further along in their careers than you are. We’re generally quite a friendly bunch who are more than happy to help if we can.
My advice for students undertaking the LPC? Make the most of the time you have on the course and get to know the other students. Also, bigger doesn’t always mean better, training at a smaller firm meant I got to work closely with partners and was given a lot of responsibility from the outset. Finally, ask other people for help with reviewing your CV and applications, and practice, practice, practice before interviews.