Julie Condliffe

Julie Condliffe

Key facts

Experience: 5 years PQE

Firm: Premier Solicitors

Role: Partner, real estate

Julie's story

'For an atypical solicitor like me, a legal career can be a battlefield. The battle of the mind was the biggest for me and I had to learn to win over my own insecurities. You either fight or run forever. I still fight daily, but I win.'

My personal journey began in my home country of Zimbabwe, a place I left in search of a better life. The youngest of eight children, I grew up in Harare. My father died when I was ten months old, and soon after we were forced to leave our rural village, becoming for all intents and purposes homeless. We had no access to housing benefits or any government support, and while our Mum did the best for us, it was still a struggle. Regardless of our circumstances, she always helped us believe that there was more in us than our current circumstances. She instilled in me a belief system that helped me understand that the only limitations are those that I place on myself.

When I arrived in this country, I knew no one. My mother and the remainder of my siblings clubbed together and gave me £500 to start my journey, which began with babysitting. Even though I was earning a little money, it wasn’t enough to afford rent.

I remember a time when I had to sleep in a telephone booth with nowhere to go, and no one to tell. Everyone back home was looking up to me to change their lives, so how can you tell someone who is counting on you to create a better life that you’re homeless? My belief system helped me to press on even through my darkest hours. I started university and worked hard. I studied nursing as it was the only course that would allow me a bursary and free accommodation. Every day after university, I would go to work at McDonalds. At least three nights a week, after my shift I would go to the local care home to do a night shift. This helped me send money home and start saving for my future law degree, and to eventually buy a property.

My sacrifice and hard work helped me look after my family. I saved enough money to bring some of my family to England. My mother also managed to visit me a few times before she died. She died a happy woman. Life got better for us a family. The money I saved helped me to eventually do my law training and to start my investment journey.

My unenviable background coupled with my powerful belief system is what has led me to become a powerful force. I am a successful property litigation solicitor and a partner in a law practice. I also worked for one of the biggest law firms, Dentons, for four years. I am aiming to become a Judge.

My goal has been to empower other ‘unprivileged’ people like me. I travel around the county speaking to young people, women and other people from different backgrounds, empowering them and using my testimony to show it’s possible.

I have gone through so much on my journey, and I am now passionate about helping people believe it is impossible, including aspiring solicitors. Even when faced with difficulties, it’s holding onto this belief and remembering the lesson of looking beyond the circumstances that has enabled me to persevere and succeed.

Julie's advice:

I believe you can do anything if you set your mind to it. You have to have the right belief system. I want to be able to help other prospective and junior lawyers to know that. My message is simple: it is possible.

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