Name: Samantha Holland Firm: Gowling WLG Location: Birmingham University: University of Bristol Undergraduate degree: Law
think there is anything I don’t like about my job”, she laughs.
critical “Clients don’t just want lawyers to pick up a dispute and deal with it; they want them to think about what’s coming up and how the business can be managed to mitigate any risks, how things can be conducted more efficiently, and how to innovate and use technology to better manage disputes and legal costs.” The global pandemic’s impact has resulted in an increased workload: “I am a litigator specialising in insurance, so we are extremely busy with covid-19 insurance claims. Despite the Financial Conduct Authority launching its test case, I still think business will face issues and that disputes with insurers over losses incurred during lockdown will run for several years.” Making partner In her career so far, Samantha has been involved in several high-profile cases; two of which she considers to be career highlights because they were “large, complex and went to final hearing. One was a dispute between racing driver, Paul di Resta and his former manager, Anthony Hamilton. I also acted for CPC Group in their high-profile dispute with Mark Holyoake.” A more personal highlight for Samantha, however, was when she made partner in 2017: “To be made partner at Gowling was a source of pride because I believe we do great work. It also validated everything I had worked for.” Getting to this point involved “a lot of hard work and juggling” but she urges law candidates to believe in themselves: “Women must feel that they can progress – you don’t have to pick between children and a career. I made a rule that I would never miss a Nativity play or parents’ evening; however, if I have a hearing then that takes priority. A set of priorities does make things easier.” The long hours, stress and responsibility that come with making decisions in a large dispute are partly what makes her job so exciting. “I don’t
Finding a job that suits is at the root of most people’s career aspirations and law firms must take more action to improve diversity so candidates from all backgrounds have this opportunity: “While there is work going into improving diversity in law firms, as a profession we aren’t doing enough quickly enough. Ultimately, firms must represent society around them to improve their decision-making and make law a better profession. Law firms must look beyond the traditional recruitment pool.” Choose the road that’s right for you Sharing a significant learning point from her journey, Samantha encourages candidates to recognise that the traditional route to qualification is not the sole means by which you can become a solicitor: “You don’t have to study law at university and then go to law school. We want people with a broad range of experience, so do what you love and then what you need to do to become a lawyer.” She outlines a few essential skills for a commercial litigator: “You must be a good communicator and listener as you will be engaging with different types of people, including clients, opposing parties, experts and witnesses. Be forensic – you will be pulling together factual information and applying the law to it to try to work out what the legal principles are and what the answer should be. Finally, be strategic – consider how to progress your case to achieve the best outcome.” Candidates can develop these skills by “volunteering at the local Citizens Advice Bureau and getting involved at the local law clinic or law society. If you’re at university, take part in mock trials and mooting to give you a taste of what a career in commercial litigation might be like.”
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