Alice Kinder, social mobility ambassador
What inspired you to study law?
I was inspired to study law because it affects every aspect of your life.
From going to work, having a home, being in a relationship, driving a car, and going out shopping, law underpins everything that we do. I was intrigued by this.
Having enjoyed essay-based subjects and public speaking whilst at school, I considered that I would enjoy and excel at studying law.
I think I first became interested in employment law from the part-time retail jobs that I had whilst studying.
When our wages were incorrect, or we did not receive the right rest breaks, I was always very interested to know the law behind this and wanted to research my rights and those of my colleagues.
This led me to choose an employment seat during my training contract, which is one of the areas that I now practise.
Did you receive encouragement to pursue your ambitions?
Although they did not attend university themselves, my parents always encouraged me to follow my aspirations and emphasised that success requires initiative and hard work.
However, when I suggested at school that I was thinking about a law degree, I was discouraged because I had not studied law at A Level and advised that I should choose a subject I had already experienced and knew I enjoyed.
This led me to begin a history degree before deciding it was not for me and changing to law a year later.
I now know that it's not essential to have studied A Level law to do a law degree.
I think it is very important that all aspiring lawyers are able to access the resources and advice that they need to make an informed decision about a legal career and this is something I am committed to improving.
Where did you study law?
I studied my LLB at the University of Birmingham.
I then completed the LPC alongside an MSc in law, business and management at the University of Law in Birmingham.
Did you encounter any challenges studying law?
When I initially considered becoming a solicitor, I found it very difficult to get work experience due to my lack of connections in the profession.
I remember handing out my CV to lots of organisations but getting no response.
However, I would advise students in the same position to not be too disheartened and think about other ways to develop the required skills.
Whilst I was at university, I spent several years working in retail and although it was a challenge to balance work and study, it certainly gave me a lot of confidence and business awareness which I transferred into my training contract applications.
What type of law do you specialise in?
I specialise in employment and pensions law. I support a range of charitable, commercial and public sector organisations as well as private individuals.
I have a particular interest in working with social businesses and other organisations who aspire to become more values driven.
Why did you want to become a Law Society social mobility ambassador?
My passion for social mobility stems from my own experiences. I grew up in a working-class family and my parents did not attend university or have legal connections.
My greatest challenge when going to university and deciding what I wanted to do was understanding my options and the steps I would need to take to pursue a professional career.
As I progressed in my legal journey, I realised there was a lot of information and advice which I would have benefited from at an earlier stage and saw a real need for centralised social mobility support.
I therefore became chair of a dedicated social mobility sub-committee for Birmingham Law Society which aims to develop and promote the importance of social mobility across the profession.
As a social mobility ambassador, I hope to have the opportunity to promote social mobility and equal opportunities on a national level and make a difference to an even wider range of individuals.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given regarding your career?
There are two things that have really resonated with me. The first is that to get the highest rewards you must be prepared to put in the effort.
A legal career is not easy and can require long hours and hard work.
Opportunities must be actively sought out and to benefit the most you must really put yourself out there and get involved as much as you can.
The second is that you should always be vocal about your goals.
Nobody will know what you want to achieve if you do not tell them and communicating your ambitions to a wide range of people will often assist you in moving forward.
Has your idea of success changed over time in your career?
I think my idea of success has certainly changed over time.
Like many of my peers, when I was at university, the goal was very much to work at a large international firm, be exposed to high-profile work, and earn as much money as possible.
However, as my career has progressed, it has become more important to me to find a job where I feel fulfilled and happy.
For some people, this might involve working at a large firm for well-known commercial clients. However, I now regard success as something different to this.
For me, it is about making a difference and being able to use my skills and my network to help others – not only my clients but also the next generation of aspiring lawyers.
Do people have misconceptions about becoming a solicitor?
When I was younger, I certainly did not appreciate how many different areas of law there are.
I think there is often a perception amongst the general public that solicitors deal with everything connected to law and it is not always known that solicitors specialise when they qualify.
There are still times when I am asked by friends to give an opinion on areas of law I have no experience in, just because it is assumed that as a solicitor, I can deal with anything legal.
For those that are aware of all the different areas of practice, there can be a misconception that you need to know which area of law you want to specialise in as soon as you embark on a legal career. That is not the case.
A training contract is the perfect opportunity to explore different areas before deciding what you enjoy.
What skills would you say are essential for the job?
I think it's important to be committed to working hard.
Being a solicitor can involve long hours and challenging work which might be out of your comfort zone and it is very important to be resilient. It's essential to have a good eye for detail and to be organised and able to adjust your priorities to meet deadlines.
As well as having a strong technical understanding, you will need to be practical and think outside of the box.
As your career progresses, it will become increasingly important to build a wide range of positive relationships both within and outside of your firm and you will need to be proactive in seeking out opportunities in areas that interest you.
Contact the ambassadors
If you want to ask an ambassador a question about their career or route into law, email using the address below and include their name in the subject line.