The LawCareers.Net Handbook 2021

Name: Susie Labinjoh Firm: Hodge Jones & Allen LLP Location: London University: University of Hull Degree: Philosophy

Remember the spider To succeed in this highly challenging area, she advises that “you have to be resilient, tenacious, extremely organised, empathetic, a good communicator, and to have a great eye for detail. You also need to be creative and flexible in the way that you approach problems.” With that taken into account, there is no better way to find out if this is the career path for you than to try it. “Do some vacation schemes and mini-pupillages,” she urges. “Volunteer at law centres or branches of Citizens Advice. You will gain a sense of whether you want to be a solicitor or barrister, and whether you want to work with people or with businesses.” And for those who share her sense of justice and determination to succeed in this area, Susie finally counsels patience: “Remember the story of Robert the Bruce and the spider – he watched one try – and fail – to spin a web between two points on his ceiling before it succeeded on the third attempt. You might apply for work experience or a training contract and not get it, but don’t be dissuaded – keep going. Rejections are good training for navigating the challenges and obstacles you will come up against on the job.”

of funding available, it is vital for many of the cases on which I work.”

In a democratic society, there is no substitute for a properly funded legal aid system. Nonetheless, Susie and her colleagues have been doing their bit to find creative ways to fund cases: “Cases have been crowdfunded in a few examples, and crowdfunding is a new area that is likely to expand in the future. Meanwhile, we have to keep fighting to secure the provision that there is.” A vocation, not just a career That provision is vital because it is often the only way of setting right issues that would otherwise result in injustice for people of modest means. And it is the chance to prevent – or at least overturn – injustice that drives Susie in her work, even when her efforts don’t succeed, as a major case from earlier in her career illustrates: “I took a case to the House of Lords in the days before the Supreme Court was established in 2009. The claim sought compensation for a miscarriage of justice, where people found to have been wrongly imprisoned after their convictions were overturned had applied for compensation, only to find that the government now intended to deduct thousands of pounds for ‘board and lodging’ from their awards – they were effectively being charged for their food and accommodation costs whilst they had been in prison. The case wasn’t ultimately successful, and the House of Lords upheld the principle, but it raised the issue on a national level.” As a solicitor, she relishes the opportunity to see cases through from start to finish – a privilege not often shared by her barrister colleagues. “I enjoy the challenge and the fact that if you succeed, you are righting a wrong,” she continues. “And remember that you can be a solicitor and do advocacy – you don’t necessarily have to go to the Bar. Most of the solicitors in our criminal department have higher rights of audience.”


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