It’s that time of year again, election time, and after almost four years sat on the executive committee (EC) and seven years involvement with the Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) generally, it’s sadly almost time for me to hang up my boots.
With that in mind, I thought it would be useful to reflect upon my time being involved with the local JLDs and the national JLD.
My first experience of the JLD was at a regional forum in Leeds. I attended as a delegate as I was seeking a training contract at the time and I was desperate to learn how to succeed in securing one and what I had been doing wrong so far.
It was very daunting attending on my own, but I found the whole day very insightful, from my CV clinic to talks by leading practitioners in the region and the ability to network with other delegates.
One particular talk that still stands out to me was by Sarah Day, formerly managing partner of DLA Piper’s Leeds office, who talked about top tips for success. I remember being inspired by the talk and thinking “I can do this”.
My ‘real’ involvement with the JLD started in around 2012 when my university friends and I decided to set up the Halifax & Huddersfield JLD.
I took on the role of national representative. This meant that I attended quarterly meetings at the Law Society with other representatives of local JLDs (known as the national committee (NC)).
These meetings are an opportunity for the JLD EC to update the NC on their ongoing work (events, policy, education and so on) and for the NC to share information from the regions. The NC also inputs into the JLDs policy positions.
It’s safe to say I fell in love with the community spirit and being part of something that could make a difference to the profession.
I have also stood as the vice chair of the Huddersfield & Halifax JLD as well as education and charity officer and then sponsorship officer for the Leeds JLD.
In 2015, I decided to stand for a role on the EC of the JLD – I was successfully elected for a two-year term.
In 2017, I still hadn’t had enough and so I stood for vice-chair of the EC (a one-year term ultimately leading to a further one-year term as chair). I was successful and became vice-chair in 2017-18 and chair in 2018-19.
In November 2019 I pass the baton onto my vice-chair, Charlotte Parkinson, for what I am sure will be a very successful 2019-20.
At first it did feel like a baptism of fire, with lots of paperwork and lots of new faces, but the committee were so welcoming that I slotted right in.
Over the last four years I have learnt a wealth of new skills that I wouldn’t have under my belt for many years, if ever. Skills such as public speaking, drafting, networking, event organising and leading meetings.
I have attended countless conferences and seminars, assisted in organising several events, attended and spoke at international conferences, responded to consultation responses and lobbied for positive change (even attending meetings at Westminster).
I have no doubt that this has assisted me on a personal level to develop my career path, but it is so much more than that.
I have been a voice for junior lawyers, and I am hopeful that the work that the JLD has lobbied for over the last half a decade has made its mark.
This year alone, we’ve:
- been involved with the development of the incoming Solicitors Qualifying Examination
- pushed for more protections to be afforded to junior lawyers
- made significant progress in our work on resilience and wellbeing
- produced podcasts
- supported the International Bar Association’s work on bullying and harassment in the workplace
- secured a seat at the table on the Criminal Legal Aid Review
- extended membership to solicitor apprentices (to name only a few things!)
Aside from the professional skills that I have developed, I have also met some awe-inspiring people who I am grateful to class as my friends, as well as my peers.
The only negative (which I personally see as a positive as I like to be busy) is that the JLD does take up a lot of your time as we’re a really proactive committee.
If you’re thinking of standing to be part of the EC, reach out to the JLD, attend our events to get a feel for what we do and (if you’re employed) make sure you chat to your employer to ensure that they support your new venture.
To summarise, I highly recommend getting involved – being part of the JLD has been one of the best decisions that I have made to date, both personally and professionally.
Nominations are now open; the deadline is midday on 16 October 2019.
Amy Clowrey is an associate at Switalskis Solicitors
This article was first published on 2 September 2019 by the Lawyer and is reproduced by kind permission