Principal Lawyer, Slater & Gordon
Harriet took a career break from representing businesses, to reconsider where her values and priorities lay. Now she’s Principal Lawyer at one of the top law employment firms in the country, and hasn’t looked back since.
1. Why did you decide to pursue a career in law?
Law looked like it would be varied and challenging and I also saw it as a possible way to help people. I chose employment law because of the human interest, no one case is ever the same.
2. What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career? And how did you overcome this?
Knowing which direction to take. I trained at a mid-size London firm and qualified into a department acting for companies. It took me some years to really stop and question the path I was taking. I had a break and went travelling and that time out ultimately led me to realise that I wanted to act for individuals (rather than the employers) helping them assert and protect their rights. It’s important to think about what your values are and be true to them.
3. Who has been your biggest inspiration? (Either in your personal or professional life)
My mother. From an early age I saw that as a women you can have a family and get to the top of your career – but it’s not easy!
4. What’s the best piece of career-related advice you’ve ever been given?
To ask yourself honestly, when you’re retired and look back on your career, will you be proud of what you have done?
5. Which three words sum up your career?
Varied, rewarding and fun.
6. How did you get to where you are now? Have you always planned a career in law?
I didn’t think about becoming a lawyer until towards the end of University. I studied French and then decided to go to law school to see whether I liked it. I only decided to go into Employment law mid-way through my training contract.
7. What advice would you give to a woman starting out in the legal industry?
Believe in yourself and be assertive about what you want. But think very carefully about your priorities.
8. What do you think the future of the legal industry holds?
The market has become more and more competitive. I think that firms will need to continue to adapt to provide their services in the way their clients want and be increasingly innovative to survive.