Sue Leach, Trainee Solicitor at Simpson Millar speaks to the Manchester Law Society Messenger newspaper
If you hadn’t gone into the legal profession, what alternative career would you choose?:
I have already had a successful career in the Pharmaceutical Industry. I trained as a pharmacologist conducting research into birth defects before moving into Sales and Marketing where I worked closely with the medical profession. I was involved with the development of drugs for the treatment of cancer and heart disease that literally saved lives. I was fortunate in that redundancy offered the opportunity to change direction and study law – something I had wanted to do for many years. I took the leap and began my training 4 years ago and have not looked back. My current position, acting for the victims of abuse in childhood, is challenging but extremely fulfilling and confirms I made the right choice. Although before I switched to Law I did consider becoming anairline pilot! I learned to fly an airplane many years ago but due to a lack of the navigation gene, I never passed my licence – I kept getting lost!
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing the profession today?
Even with my relatively short period of time working in the Legal Profession I can see that it is changing at a rapid rate. The Legal Services Act meant that firms have to become more commercially aware and customer focused which doesn’t sit naturally with many lawyers. But I think the firms that don’t become more business minded will be the ones who suffer.
What work gives you the most satisfaction?
The clients I work for are victims of abuse in childhood who have felt throughout their lives unable to disclose what happened to them as they have felt that they would not be believed. When they disclose to me therefore, it’s sometimes the first time that they feel anyone has ever listened. It is hard not to become discouraged and cynical about human nature but although I am not their counsellor, I feel privileged that in some way I am able to support them through the legal process.
Who inspires you?
My father, Albert. Since retiring from the Police many years ago he has dedicated his spare time to identifying and locating those Police officers from the Manchester Police Force who fell in the First World War but who have not been recognised on any memorial. He has successfully identified several and at the age of 81 years, continues to search for others.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering a career in the law?
Be honest with yourself regarding the area of law you want to work in and take your time researching your choice to identify companies to apply to.
How do you relax?
I sing in a local choir and take singing lessons. I also practice yoga on a regular basis although I have been known to blast my motorbike on the occasional racetrack to let off steam! Is there a book that had an impact on your life? Not exactly an impact on my life but a book that stayed in my mind for weeks after I had read it is Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks. Its evocative description of life in the trenches in World War 1 was overwhelming. Unfortunately I watched the TV adaptation of the book recently and it spoilt my memories of it!
Finally, sum up yourself in three words
Adventurous, compassionate, determined