Carol Katz

Carol Katz

Key facts

Experience: 15 years PQE

Firm: Mishcon de Reya LLP

Role: Professional support lawyer, private wealth

Carol's story

'For me, running has always been an excellent way to escape. I can push any problems to the back of my mind and simply focus on my running technique, or just the finish line when things get tough.'

 

I became a solicitor largely because I was not sure what other careers were out there and, after doing work experience as a 14 year old in a solicitors’ office, I followed on from there. We had very little career planning at school and I honestly thought the only subjects I could study were law and English. As I loved books so much I did not want to be put off reading by having to study English, so I defaulted to law.

I received full student loans and the limited grants available but this was still not enough to cover university accommodation. As a result, I applied for and received grants from local charities. I worked during the holidays but did not manage to keep a job at university due to the workload.

Arriving at university I discovered a new type of person: those who had gone to private school. I managed to find a group of friends at university who were more on my level, if not from the same socio-economic background, and found that where I went to school was less important. I adopted the same approach at law school.

I think I missed out on some of the things that other law students did as a result of my naivety. I was amazed, for example, when getting back from university after the summer break that almost everybody had completed summer placements and secured themselves a training contract. I failed to do so and ended up having to take a bank loan to pay my law school fees. If I had my time again I would have paid more attention to this and tried to get my LPC paid for by a law firm. I would have used all of the facilities at university to bolster my CV too, but the culture I was raised in taught me there was something very ‘uncool’ about joining the netball team or debating society or other extra curricular activities. Had I known that these were things that could have helped me network, learn new skills and, potentially, assist with my training contract applications, I would have done more with that side of university.

Since becoming a lawyer I definitely have two selves. The old self who grew up in Essex and went to the local comprehensive where more people took re-sit GCSEs than A-levels, and the new self who is a lawyer in London with lots of friends who do not worry about money and are very well-connected. Sometimes I find this difficult to conflate but over the years I have grown in confidence and have pride in my background.

For any aspiring lawyer I would recommend trying as much as possible to understand the different types of law and legal roles available. I have been lucky enough to work in Private Client law which affords a huge variety of work. I have also spent time in-house and developed a greater understanding of the commercial benefits a lawyer can bring. Knowing you can practice as a lawyer in so many different fields is revelatory and I would encourage anyone to practice in a field that interests them first rather than just assuming that the only type of lawyer is a corporate lawyer or property lawyer.

Carol's advice:

In my experience the legal profession can seem dominated by those from privileged backgrounds. Some law firms recruit from the same 'mould' which can be very intimidating to an outlier. I spent some of my career practising law in-house and found the outlook to be quite different.

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