I’m Tom Clarke, I’m 29 and work as a solicitor in the specialist employment law team in our Newcastle office.
I grew up in the beautiful village of Kirkby Lonsdale in Cumbria before going back to my father’s roots and moving to the North East to study music at Newcastle University.
After deciding that law was where my future lay, I studied for my Graduate Diploma in Law and then my Legal Practice Postgraduate Diploma at Northumbria University.
What made you want to be a lawyer?
I went to a careers talk by a graduate of my degree course who had gone on to work in the law. I didn’t really know what working in a law firm might be like, but it made me think that finding out more would be a good option.
What made you choose to join Hay & Kilner?
I got a place on Hay & Kilner’s summer vacation scheme, through which we give students the chance to learn more about a potential future legal career. I really enjoyed the experience and so applied successfully for a training contract.
Before starting this in 2016, I worked here as a paralegal for a year and found that Hay & Kilner provided a much more friendly, encouraging and supportive environment that any law firm cliché you might imagine.
I was ‘hands on’ straight away with the employment team during my training, working with the partners on a range of really interesting client projects which helped put the impact of our work into clear perspective.
What does your typical day involve?
The variety of my work is one of the most appealing parts of it and there’s no such thing as a typical day.
I could be working on anything from advising clients on emerging workplace issues through to managing full-blown employment tribunals, with the guiding principle being to help people who’ve spent years building up their businesses to run them as efficiently and successfully as possible.
How has your role developed since joining the firm?
I’m taking on more responsibility and have a growing number of clients who come to me as their first port of call, with the support from the senior team always available as required.
I’m also working more closely with colleagues across the firm, such as our corporate/commercial and litigation teams, on projects where clients need the wider expertise that’s available here.
What achievement in your career so far are you most proud of?
Being able to support and assist SME owner/managers who have built successful businesses is a very satisfying feeling, as is gaining their and my senior colleagues’ trust and respect.
How do you see your career developing?
I’m getting more involved with different aspects of the practice’s wider development, such as the planning of our move to our fantastic new headquarters in The Lumen building in Newcastle’s Helix development.
It’s an exciting time to be at Hay & Kilner and I want to contribute as much as I can to its future development.
As vice chair of the Newcastle Young Professionals’ Forum, I’m also part of a team that organises a range of events and activities which bring people together from across the city’s professional services community to help create useful new business relationships (and to have some fun while we’re doing so!).
What advice would you give to anyone looking to follow a career in the law?
Keep an open mind about what you might want to do, especially on the areas of the law in which you might want to work, as it’s important to consider a range of options before you make up your mind.
Show who you are, as your personality is central to the relationships you’ll develop with both colleagues and clients, and if you’re looking to move to/stay in the North East, make sure you can say why you’re choosing to make that commitment.