Back to Law Ambassador: Michal Freeman-Shor
Growing up in Israel as a descendent of WW2 survivors, there was really no question of whether I should go to university.
I chose to study law at Nottingham Law School because the laws in England and Israel are very similar and it allowed me to travel and refine my English.
My many critics told me that I was unrealistic, overambitious, and arrogant for thinking I could study law in a language that I had not mastered.
Fortunately, my mother taught me to always follow my dreams and treat such negativity as white noise.
I met my husband during my third year in law school and we have a teenage son. After graduation, I went back to Israel to qualify as an advocate. However, post qualification, and to the dismay of many, I chose to return to England.
This was when I met with the realities of trying to find a job as an alien in England. I submitted over one hundred applications and filled two lever arch files with rejection letters.
After months of applying for jobs and depleting all of my life’s savings, I finally managed to get an interview at the London office of a large Israeli firm who gave me my break.
Later I joined Stringer Saul LLP (now Fasken Martineau) and I practiced corporate law.
I returned to work after my maternity leave but found it challenging to juggle a successful legal career with motherhood. Therefore, I decided to take a career break and raise my son.
During my years out of private practice I was lucky to be a successful property investor, charity volunteer, fundraiser, board director, and law lecturer.
After 11 and a half years, I realised that my son was independent enough and decided to go back into the legal profession. My first port of call was the Law Society’s website.
I found out that there was a returner programme and I enrolled straight away. I also signed up to various legal training courses. I remember vividly hesitating to sign up to these courses because they were expensive; but my husband was supportive and told me the time had come to invest in myself.
As I did these courses I also spoke to many headhunters. Their feedback was bleak.
They simply were not interested in someone who was not currently employed. They placed no value on the vast amount of additional experience and transferrable skills I had gained. Nevertheless, I applied for, and received, my practicing certificate and chose to keep trying.
I contacted old colleagues and some of my old clients, and while they were enthusiastic, no doors opened.
The Law Society returner weekend was a fantastic confidence boost for me at a time when I needed it most. The speakers were very informative and supportive, and I left the venue energised and full of motivation to continue to try to find a job as a solicitor.
I will confess that it has been an extremely difficult journey.
I used half of my days learning and getting up to date with the law, and half of my days applying for roles and speaking to recruitment consultants.
To bring this to life: I applied for over 70 roles, rewrote my CV several times, and received some rejection letters within seconds of applying (computer says no). On several occasions when applying online I was unable to submit my CV because I could not complete all the boxes: unable to provide a current salary, for example.
I finally met two very proactive recruitment consultants who managed to generate some interest and I continued to network as much as I could.
I applied for and got accepted onto the Addleshaw Goddard’s Return to Law programme. It was whilst undertaking that programme, that I accepted a role as a senior corporate solicitor at another fantastic, forward-looking law firm, Gardner Leader.
I joined the fantastic major national law firm, Shoosmiths, in June 2019 and I am a Principal Associate at the corporate finance department advising on a wide range of corporate transactions, I co-head the firm’s Israel desk which means that most recently I have represented Shoosmiths at the London Stock Exchange Annual Conference in Israel appearing as one of the guest speaker panel members.
I have also recently been featured as a Finalist in the Women in Business Awards 2019, in the Board Level & Senior Executive of the Year category and I am currently nominated in three award categories in the Woman in Law Awards 2020.
Michal's top tips
My main advice to all returners to law is three-fold: First – treat the nay-sayers (including your own self-doubt) as white noise. Make sure you surround yourself with positive people who will support you.
Second – don’t believe those recruiters who fob you off due to lack of recent experience. They are only interested in making a quick buck. Find a recruiter who actually cares and is willing to represent your case to their clients even though you don’t tick all the boxes.
Third – never, ever, give up on your dreams and aspirations!