Lisa Burton, joined Olliers in June 2016 as a consultant prison lawyer, having previously been in the Navy and employed by the Prison Service. We chatted to Lisa to find out more about her background and what attracted her to life as a consultant lawyer at Olliers.
What was your route into the profession?
From a young age I wanted to be a lawyer and vividly remember discussing my GCSE options with a career advisor when at secondary school as to ensure I was heading down the correct path. However our secondary school then received a visit from the local Navy careers office and the excitement of leaving home and travelling the word (whilst getting paid for it) motivated me to sign the next chapter of my life to HM Royal Navy as a communications operative.
After a period of time in the Navy I fell pregnant and for understandable reasons decided to leave. I once again considered a career in the legal profession , however, due to my family expanding even further my studies were put on hold to enable me to instead find suitable employment.
It was then that I came across an advert to become a prison officer. During my career as a prison officer I progressed to working within the OMU department where I would routinely draft OASYs documents, attend parole hearings and make re-categorisation decisions. I honestly enjoyed working within the OMU department but at the same time was witness to injustices in the system, irrational decisions and poor representation.
Following a disastrous oral hearing, I contacted a lawyer that I had known for some time in order to discuss how I could assist this particular prisoner. The conversation somehow got onto my own career and it was following this discussion that I realised the only way to truly help would be to once again pursue a career in law. I therefore took up distance learning once again with the intention of perusing a career in law but all was not to be as shortly I fell pregnant with my third child.
I returned to the prison service following maternity leave however begun sending my CV to nearly every law firm that practised in prison law, until one gave me a chance. It was then that the real work began, I took a leap of faith and worked my butt off to prove myself whilst also study to fill in the gaps in my knowledge.
Now I can’t imagine doing anything else….
What has been your biggest career challenge so far?
As my route into the legal profession was not via the conventional route, my biggest challenge initially was evidencing that I had both the knowledge and skill to join the legal profession whilst also trying to juggle a family of three young children.
Which person within the legal profession inspires you most?
There is not one particular person that inspires me. I am inspired by many legal aid lawyers that I come across on a daily basis, who more often than not work long hours or go the extra mile as they genuinely care about their clients.
If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you choose as an alternate career?
I have never considered an alternative career, however if law was not an option I think I would want to be a psychologist as I am interested in people and what makes them tick.
Who is your favourite fictional lawyer?
Definitely Martha Costello in Silk, the character is a clear campaigner for justice and fights for the under dog.
What change would you make to the profession?
Legal aid cuts, need I say more?
How does working on a consultancy basis fit in with your life?
Consultancy for me has been amazing, I have the ability to schedule my working hours around my family, rather than my family around my working hours, whilst also ensuring my client receive a high level of service. There are only so many times that you can miss school events or wake your children at 10pm to do homework that wasn’t done because you were too busy in the office, before you realise something needs to change!
Also consultancy allows me to work remotely from anywhere in the world which is especially helpful for me, given that we have family who live abroad. Prior to consultancy I would often struggle to balance my annual leave sheet so as to ensure I could have time off during school holidays, for school events, special occasions and family emergencies.
Now I have the flexibility to take time off when my family needs me during ‘office hours’ and if necessary catch up on work in the evening or when they are at school.
What attracted you to Olliers ?
I was attracted to Olliers due to the support offered to me. From day one I felt like part of the team as opposed to just a consultant who was not part of the firm. The training offered by Olliers to further my career has been great and enables both consultants and fixed staff to meet on a regular basis. I have now been at Olliers for six months and can honestly say it has been a fantastic move.
What are the benefits of consultancy to you and your family?
Being able to spend more time with my family whilst also maintaining a full-time caseload has been a great benefit.
How do you relax when you are not working?
When I am not working I often spend the majority of time with my husband and children.
I am however a bit of a movie buff and consultancy allows me to take the sneeky afternoon off for a trip to the cinema whilst the kids are all at school too!!
Do you want to join Olliers as a consultant lawyer?
If Lisa’s journey has inspired you to consider life as a consultant lawyer, why not consider joining Olliers. For more information please click here. If you think this would be the right move for you, contact Matthew Claughton on 0161 827 7010 or by email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org for an informal chat.