Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Charlotte Lakin

Founder & CEO of Inlaw and Trainee Solicitor at Global

IWD Focus: In celebration of International Women's Day, we interviewed our Founder Charlotte Lakin.

Charlotte Lakin is the Founder & CEO of Inlaw

Why did you start Inlaw?

I started Inlaw in help others discover more about in-house opportunities.

I personally learnt about the opportunity to train in-house quite late on. It wasn’t something I was told about at university, at all.

Once I started working at the John Lewis Partnership, I knew that I wanted to train in-house. I found the work extremely varied and I loved working for a business, interacting with others across the business and thinking not just legally but commercially. Whilst I knew what I wanted, I then realised that finding the information about training in-house and sourcing in-house opportunities wasn’t so easy. I felt there was no one central place to find everything I needed. It was then that the concept of Inlaw was born, out of a need to fill this void.

The hope is that, if you have an interest in working in-house, Inlaw will provide all the information and tools to get you started and all under one roof.

How did you secure your training contract at Global?

Having already decided that I wanted to train in-house, the next thing was finding the right role. I recall walking in London Leicester Square and seeing Global’s head office. Global, which is a media and entertainment company, is home to some of the UK’s most loved brands. I remember thinking to myself, “Gosh I’d love to work here! I wonder if they have a legal team?” Sure enough they did. I decided to follow them as a company on LinkedIn and set up job alerts on their website.

"Having moved to a role once before with the “possibility” of a training contract, I was keen to make sure the “possibility” could be made into a reality."

One day, I got alerted to a paralegal job. I read the job description and it said “we’re looking for an enthusiastic, super-organised paralegal to join our team…and, for the right candidate, there’s also the possibility of a training contract”. The wholly grail of opportunities had appeared and on the day I saw the advertisement, I applied.

After two interviews, one with two heads of legal and my final interview with the General Counsel, I was offered the role.

Having moved to a role once before with the “possibility” of a training contract, I was keen to make sure the “possibility” could be made into a reality. To do this, I asked for something in writing that would secure my training contract on successful completion of my probation. It wasn’t by all means a guaranteed training contract, because I still had to prove myself over 6 months. Thankfully I did, and not only did I manage to get a training contract, Global were gracious enough to take my 6 months as a paralegal as time to count, thereby reducing my training contract to 18 months.

I am proud to be the first trainee at Global.

Who inspires you?

I’m quite fortunate, in that I don’t have to look far to find the woman that inspires me most. I see her practically every week. That inspiring woman, is my mum.

She came to this country at the young age of 16 from British Guyana. She worked hard to pay for her education as a foreign student. She qualified as an accountant and underwent a couple career changes, whilst also raising a family with my dad.

She’s taught me a number of things:

1. How to overcome adversity. As a black woman from other country, it wasn’t easy for her. Despite the challenges she has faced, she has never allowed that to stop her from succeeding.

2. You CAN have everything! My mum has sacrificed a lot for her children, but she hasn’t sacrificed success. She has made her career work for her. In a time before flexible-working was an option, my mum decided to leave the normal 9-5 job and build her own business. She showed me that you can be a successful woman and have a family. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

3. It’s ok to change career. She trained as an accountant, but also trained as a hairdresser and opened a hair salon, and also ran a property portfolio. My mum is a woman of many skills and a business woman at heart. Because of her, I know that whatever I do, if I believe I can do it, I will do it.

4. It doesn’t cost a thing to be kind and to listen. My mum is a very kind individual who is generous with her time. She’s always on the other end of a call offering encouragement and support to all her children. It it with her support that she has raised a dentist, a lawyer and a tax consultant at one of the big 4.

Finding my career in law hasn’t been easy. However, the challenges I’ve faced are nothing in comparison to the hardships my mother has had to endure. I see her achievements and I am inspired every day to be the fraction of the woman she is. She is living proof that you can come from nothing, and achieve something great.

How do you deal with rejection?

Rejection is inevitable; especially in this profession, where it is so competitive. The truth is that you have to be okay with that rejection. You have to accept it and move on.

I’ve been rejected so many times. People look at me now and they see my successes. What they don’t see, is all the times I was rejected.

"What I’ve learnt is that it’s ok to feel these emotions. It’s perfectly normal. What you can’t do is let these emotions consume you and above all, you can’t give up!"

I recall getting to the final stage of an in-house training contract role, and getting the call to say I hadn’t got it. I was crushed. I’d made it to the final two and I genuinely thought I’d done enough to secure the role, but I hadn’t. I went through a number of emotions; disappointment, frustration, sadness and finally acceptance.

What I’ve learnt is that it’s ok to feel these emotions. It’s perfectly normal. What you can’t do is let these emotions consume you and above all, you can’t give up!

So what do I do? After a rejection, I feel all of these emotions. I give myself 24 hours to feel it. 24 hours to be disappointed, frustrated and sad. I use that 24 hours to do whatever it is that makes me feel better. Be it eating my favourite take-out or putting on an uplifting film, or both. I do whatever it is that I need in those 24 hours. After that, all these emotions go in a box and are put away. Why? So I can focus on the next task at hand. I can’t properly do that if I am mourning something that was never going to be.

A lot can change if you change your mindset. I know for a fact that I will encounter rejection again. It’s inevitable. However, I know I will also see success. By being resilient and not allowing the rejection to defeat me, I know I will be strong enough to take on the next challenge that comes.

What are you reading now?

I am reading “You Didn't Mention the Piranhas: A Crisis Survival Guide” written by Sarah Nelson Smith. Sarah currently works at WeWork as their Regional General Counsel. She previously worked as KFC’s European Chief Legal Officer.

In Sarah’s first book, she shares her story and experiences as a lawyer, a parent and as a woman. I was fortunate to have met Sarah a couple years ago and am loving reading her book on my daily commutes.

What advice would you give to an aspiring lawyer?

Believe you can, because YOU CAN.

This profession will test you in so many ways. No matter what background you come from; whether you are the first in your family to go to university, or are coming from a different career, you can overcome any challenges you are faced with.

Self-belief is the first step to success. So believe you can, because YOU CAN.

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