Kerry McIver | Trainee Solicitor at Thorntons Law LLP
Our next guest is Kerri McIver. Kerri is a Trainee Solicitor (Personal Injury) at Thorntons Law LLP currently in her second year. She obtained her LLB (Honours) from the University of Edinburgh and went on to the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice with the University of Strathclyde.
1. Tell us a bit about your background. What university did you attend? Did you take a year abroad? What were your favourite/worst subjects in university?
I grew up in West Lothian and moved to Edinburgh for university. I went to the University of Edinburgh for my LLB and the University of Strathclyde for the Diploma in Legal Practice. A couple of my favourite subjects at university were Family Law and Gender & Justice. My least favourite subjects were anything commercial based; I’ve never been able to picture myself in that area of law, so I found it hard to engage with.
2. What made you choose to pursue a career in the legal profession?
From a young age, I’ve been interested in the justice system and making a complex system as simple as possible to those going through it. Often when people are using legal services they are going through a difficult time in their lives, so being able to make the process as smooth sailing for someone is something I find very rewarding.
3. Do you know the area of law that you want to practice?
Whilst I’m trying to keep my mind open to all areas of law, I see myself pursuing a career in an area of law where I get to work with individuals as opposed to companies/organisations. I love being able to work closely with individuals and their families, knowing that I am making a positive impact in their lives. I can see myself working in an area such as private client, family law, or employment.
4. When applying to law firms you wanted to work for, how did you find the process?
It’s not the easiest when you’re juggling university, a part-time job and trying to maintain somewhat of a social time, to also be filling out multiple application forms, but you just have to make the time. The organisational skills you learn as a law student set you up well for a career as a Solicitor. Each firm has their own application process but usually start with some sort of paper form. As much as it’s a time saver, avoid copy-pasting and make sure your application is tailored to the firm you are applying for. Prioritise the firms you are most interested in too.
5. What advice would you give yourself as a law student looking back now as a trainee?
As a trainee, I’m learning the importance of networking and this is something I didn’t do much of in university. If you can, try to reach out to people in different firms and different legal roles. It can be daunting but making a LinkedIn account is often a great place to start.
6. How do you feel about the future of the legal profession? Do you think dealing with clients will become virtual more permanently?
I feel positive about the future of the legal profession. In many ways the current pandemic has given the profession the nudge in the right direction it’s needed for a while. I don’t think the profession would have willingly embraced technology in the ways it has been forced to due to the pandemic. I think virtual meetings with clients will become a permanent fixture now the profession has the capabilities in place. It’s much more convenient for clients now they don’t have to travel to offices for appointments.
7. Do you work from home all the time or do you work in the office on occasion? Is there an office rota in place for when you are allowed into the office?
I’ve been working from home since March and my firm are continually reviewing when we may be able to return to the office. It’s definitely a different experience to what I thought my traineeship was going to be like, but my firm are great at making sure we have plenty of face-to-face time and I can always pick up the phone if I have any questions!
8. What is your work/life balance like? Do you find that your workload has increased or decreased since the lockdown?
Towards the beginning of lockdown I was placed on furlough for a few months, and then I went back part-time before returning full-time. Since I returned to work I have been busy in personal injury but some areas of law are busier than others. I have a good work/life balance; my firm make it a priority and understand that everyone has a personal life as well as a professional one.
9. What is the firm culture like where you are currently working?
I love the culture at my firm; it’s a massive reason why I applied for a traineeship here. From day 1 I was made to feel so welcome and everyone is very friendly and encouraging. My colleagues are all incredibly supportive and we work together as a team to make sure everyone can reach their full potential. I find that having such a “family-like” culture allows me to develop my skills fully and that’s why it is such an important think to think about when you are applying for traineeships.
10. Do you have any tips for virtual networking?
I think networking virtually isn’t much different from “in real life”. Do your research about who you are meeting, be confident and be your best self!
11. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Friendly, compassionate and ambitious.
12. Who was your role model growing up and why?
I didn’t really have one specific role model but I looked to the adults in my life such as my parents and teachers at school. I was more focused on setting myself the goal of being a Solicitor and working hard to achieve that.
13. What is your proudest achievement?
Graduating with my LLB is definitely my proudest achievement. It’s not easy and being able to achieve that whilst juggling a job was a proud moment for me.
14. If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go and why?
Somewhere sunny and hot please! I had the trip of a lifetime booked in April to San Francisco, LA and Las Vegas which, like many others, was cancelled due to COVID.
15. If you were going to a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what three items would you want to have with you and why?
A guitar, because although I don’t play it would be a good past time to learn. A notebook and a pen so I could write or draw or play games!
16. What is your favourite pastime/hobby you like to do in your spare time?
My latest hobby (lockdown inspired) has been sewing. I’ve made plenty of face masks but also some patchwork cushions and blankets. I’d love to try some clothes once I get better.
17. What Television series are you watching at the moment?
I recently started the Queens Gambit and this documentary series on Netflix called “60 days in”. It involves people going undercover in an American prison to spy on the inmates and find out all their tricks – so addictive!
18. If you won the lottery, what would be your first purchase and why?
A holiday house in Italy! I love the sun, the culture and most of all the food.
19. If not law, what other career would you be interested in pursuing and why?
I think I would have studied English literature because I love reading and English was one of my favourite subjects at school.
20. If you could write a book/film about your life, what would the title be and why?
Hmm… perhaps “In my Defence”? It would most definitely be a dramedy!
Interviewed by Taylor Reid (Secretary 2020/21). We would like to thank Kerri McIver for agreeing to participate in the interview for the Law Review. If you would like to participate in an interview with the Law Review, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org