Updated: Apr 28, 2020
Paralegal at Warner Bros. International Television Productions UK
Tell us a bit about your educational background:
Prior to studying law at university, I attended West Herts Cassio college studying film and media at A Level. I have always had a fascination with films and captivating stories from a very young age which began from reading literature. Alongside my film and media studies, I also studied law.
Following my graduation at college, I knew I wanted to take the next step in my academic career by applying to university. However, I knew I had to make a choice, to pursue a degree in film or pursue a degree in law. After much thought, I decided to pursue a degree in law for its diverse applications, whilst writing in my spare time keeping alive my interests in story writing, film and media.
In 2013, I graduated from Brunel University with a 2.1 law degree. The degree afforded me the opportunity to work in private practice for one year and then return to complete my final year of studies. It was this experience that cemented my ambition to qualify as a solicitor.
I subsequently enrolled onto the Legal Practice Course (“LPC”) studying part-time at BPP University. Whist studying, I continued to work in private practice working as a residential and commercial property paralegal.
I later graduated from my LPC in 2015 obtaining a Commendation. Shortly after my graduation, I was offered my first in-house paralegal opportunity to work for a residential property developer, St James (part of the Berkeley Group).
In 2019, I was able to transition to a new in-house paralegal role working for Warner Bros. in the International Television Production team and the Commercial department. This role has been exceptional bringing together full circle two of my personal interests in film and law.
In 2020, I successfully secured my training contract in-house which is due to start later this year.
"I was not informed about opportunities to work or train in-house at either university or otherwise. I transitioned from private practice to in-house without any guidance or information at the time."
Where you told about in-house when you were studying?
I was not informed about opportunities to work or train in-house at either university or otherwise. I transitioned from private practice to in-house without any guidance or information at the time. I was thinking purely about career progression. I had worked in residential and commercial property for three years and it seemed like a logical step to move from selling and buying houses/flats, to providing legal support for obtaining land and constructing them.
From speaking with colleagues and my peers, the above sentiment is a shared experience which for me highlights the gap in legal career information available to students, graduates and qualified lawyers.
It is clear that more needs to be done by universities and also the legal profession as a whole to promote the option of working, training and qualifying in-house. There's certainly a plethora of in-house legal opportunities for those who wish to apply.
How did you find your role in-house?
My first in-house legal role with St James (part of the Berkeley Group) was found by a recruitment agency called Blaze Group. At first, I was unsure whether I was making the right career move as I did not know of anyone in the legal profession who had moved from private practice to in-house.
In addition, many of my peers in the legal profession struggled to understand why I had considered leaving private practice to pursue a role in-house. However, I was excited by the prospect of trying something new and broadening my legal skills and experience, so I went with my gut instinct and took the leap.
"Your job is to advise the directors and stakeholders of both the legal and commercial risks. You are given a lot of responsibility which in turn yields a lot of experience."
Are there any distinctive features going in-house?
A distinctive feature I noticed straight away when moving in-house was that the business is now your sole client. Your job is to advise the directors and stakeholders of both the legal and commercial risks. You are given a lot of responsibility which in turn yields a lot of experience.
You also get to know your company’s brand. This for me is one of the most rewarding aspects of working in-house, as you get to see the fruits of your labour together with your colleagues. For me, this is one of the most inspiring elements of working in-house.
"A company is a group of people who have different skill sets and expertise, all working together for a common cause."
What you have learnt since going in-house?
I have learnt to think more commercially about my decisions which has helped shape me into a more practical lawyer. I am able to view the legal opinions through a commercial lens, which helps me advise on the most effective business and legal solutions.
A company is a group of people who have different skill sets and expertise, all working together for a common cause. The more involved and the more interest you take in the company, the more you will get to be part of the discussions which fall outside of the legal sector and into other areas of the business. This may include consumer brands, sales, finance and marketing, all of which is illustrative of the diverse nature of in-house legal roles.
What advice you would give to anyone looking to go in house?
My top tips for those wishing to move in-house would be:
Use LinkedIn and contact recruitment agencies – you need to be able to find the in-house roles! In my experience, a majority of companies advertise on LinkedIn for their legal roles and some solely use recruitment agencies. On LinkedIn, follow all of the companies that you would be interested to work for and set-up alerts so you can be notified if and when roles become available.
Look at the job specification and identify transferable skills – I was able to transition from private practice to in-house by having transferable skills. I identified the skills I had obtained in private practice and then applied them to the in-house legal roles’ job specification requirements. I made sure I had an example for each point.
Research the company – make sure you know who you are working for, what their long-term goals are, what achievements and awards they have obtained and the issues facing their industry.
What do you love about being in-house?
I love being able to used my legal skills and experience in a fast-moving business. I enjoy working with creative teams, providing legal and commercial solutions and having the freedom to experience the diversity that working in-house has to offer.