Nicola Lowe, social mobility ambassador

Social mobility ambassador Nicola Lowe shares her experience of entering the profession, including the challenges she faced and how she overcame them.
Nicola Lowe is a white woman with short, wavy blonde hair. She is smiling widely and stands in the garden outside social housing. She wears a navy wrap dress and a gold necklace and watch.
Photograph: Alice Mutasa

What inspired you to study law?

I had helped several friends with legal problems that they had and attended court on several occasions. I had no legal training but did have a strong sense of justice and the ability to express myself.

A family member was involved in a dispute with a national newspaper and I assisted them to obtain a large sum from the paper.

I remember the editor asking who had represented them and he was shocked to be told it was a sister in law with no legal training or qualifications!

I wanted to help people and this is still my inspiration now.

Did you receive encouragement to pursue your ambitions?

I was encouraged by several of my lecturers at college. I did the access to higher education course as I had left school with no qualifications.

I was a mature student and this course gave me the qualifications to apply for a place at university.

All the lecturers were very supportive but one in particular encouraged me to apply to study law. I had no confidence or self-esteem but her belief in me gave me the confidence I needed.

Where did you study law?

I studied law at Southampton University and achieved a 2:1 whilst also raising a family and working night shifts.

Travelling to Guildford to undertake the Legal Practice Course (LPC) would have been difficult. Fortunately, Bournemouth University had a law faculty and so I studied for the LPC there.

I can remember my first day at university and seeing professors’ names on doors in the corridors was almost surreal as I never thought I would go to university. I can still recall how I felt on that day.

Did you encounter any challenges studying law?

It was quite difficult as none of my family had attended university and so they could not understand why I wanted to attend.

I was also a mature student so I knew that some firms would not be interested in giving me a training contract to enable me to complete my studies.

Paying for the course was also difficult as I had a family and so I had to work as a health care assistant at night to fund it.

What type of law do you specialise in?

I specialise in private client work and undertake some property work as I was head of the property department for a few years. I particularly like working with vulnerable or elderly clients.

I am also a managing partner and enjoy being involved in the strategic planning and compliance for the firm.

Why did you want to become a Law Society social mobility ambassador?

I am passionate about encouraging others to achieve – particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Law was and still is in some cases very elitist.

Fortunately, the profession is changing and it is more inclusive than it used to be but we have a long way to go and we need to encourage people from more diverse backgrounds to study law.

Some of the best colleagues I work with have suffered adversity or challenges along the way. They are driven as they grasp the opportunities that they thought they might never have.

Coming from the less traditional route can help them relate to people and make them more empathetic.

Having obtained my law degree and being the managing partner, against all odds, I want to help others who don’t believe in themselves or who think they can’t achieve because of their background, age or circumstances, to aspire to do the same.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given regarding your career?

The best advice I was ever given regarding my career was which discipline to follow.

I am still at the firm where I trained. I was head hunted several times but I took advice and decided to stay with the firm.

I felt I owed them a duty as they had given me an opportunity and I am glad that I did stay.

Has your idea of success changed over time in your career?

My idea of success has changed over time in my career.

When I first qualified, most young solicitors were hoping to achieve partnership. I was delighted and privileged when I was asked to become the first female partner in my firm.

Partnership is not as important to people who qualify now and success can take many forms.

Having clients instruct you many times and being able to inspire others and give something back to the community in which we serve is success.

Do people have misconceptions about becoming a solicitor?

People have misconceptions about becoming a solicitor because it is still seen as elitist and the preserve of the privileged few.

Many people, particularly those from less privileged backgrounds, may not contemplate a career in law as a result.

What skills would you say are essential for the job?

To be a good solicitor you need to have good listening and communication skills. Good people skills are an asset depending on the area of law you practise in.

Some of my best trainees may not have obtained a first class honours degree but they have strong critical thinking skills, a logical mind and a great deal of common sense.

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.

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