Our Lorna Valcin is published by Law Society
Getting what you wish for
15 October 2013 from Law Society website, here.
“People often say you should be careful of what you wish for. It’s a cliché, maybe, but one that I believe is very true.
As you get on in life, your wishes change. No sooner have they been granted – or, as I like to put it, achieved – you find that you are wishing for something different. You feel the need for change.
After completing a secretarial course, and while working as a temp for the Civil Service, I was asked about what kind of job I was looking for. I said that I wanted to be a secretary with my own office.
Not too ambitious, perhaps, but I knew how accurate my shorthand and typing would need to be to get a legal secretary job. Having very little confidence at that time, that was firmly off my wish list.
Lo and behold, my first full-time job was as a legal secretary in a small Chancery Lane solicitors’ practice. What’s more, I had my own office!
Even so, after a few years, I became bored of being a secretary. However, I had developed a real interest in the law.
After spending almost 10 years studying part-time study and keeping a full-time job, I completed the legal executive course. I said goodbye to my secretarial job, and started the LPC course.
What a year that was. I was studying full-time and, for the first time, didn’t have to juggle a caseload with study.
At this point I set myself a new goal: I would become a partner in a national firm. I moved across London with my husband to join Colemans-ctts as a newly qualified solicitor. Soon after accepting the role, I discovered I was pregnant.
After 12 years of extremely hard work, putting in a ridiculous amount of hours, I achieved partnership. Oh happy day! I was a partner in a national firm – a long way from my humble beginnings as a legal secretary.
However, just three years later, I found I needed another change. I had juggled career with motherhood for 15 years, as most of us do, and decided that I needed to step off the treadmill.
This was an extremely difficult decision, to say the least, but I found I was more concerned about what other people might think of my wanting to give up my partnership – especially those people who knew how hard I had worked to achieve it in the first place.
In the end, I followed my feelings and jumped into self-employment, joining a niche claimant-only practice regulated by the Ministry of Justice.
I came to an agreement with Compromise Agreements Limited, which means that I am able to work part-time from home – a huge transition from what I have been used to.
At the same time, I was approached by Central Law Training and offered a position as programme developer for employment law on a very part-time basis.
I should say that it was my involvement with the Women Lawyers Divisions’ returners course as a lecturer that led to my being recommended to Central Law Training. I’ve now been lecturing for them for two years, and now, through the same delegate that recommended me, who herself now works for CLT, I am a programme director.
I continue to work hard, because both jobs are demanding in their own way. However, the flexibility has allowed me to spend so much more time with my daughter, who has just started her final year at school. Being there when she comes home from school is just the best. I was never able to do that while I worked in the office.
So while I continue to practice law, I am just doing so in a slightly different and, for the most part, less stressful way. I took a leap of faith and followed my inner feelings, and I haven’t regretted it.
I believe that where there’s a will there’s a way; you just have to be open to the opportunities that come your way. Some very unexpected doors have been opened to me, and I am so grateful.”