How did you get started in your career and what drew you to Allen & Overy?
I was interested in going into law while at school and, once I underwent a leg amputation when I was 17, decided that it was a career that I could still pursue despite my disability. I read Law at University of Leicester and was encouraged to apply to leading City and international firms on the back of my results. I was fortunate enough to complete a vacation scheme at Allen & Overy in 2012 and was offered a training contract later that summer.
I was particularly interested in Allen & Overy because of its global reach, and the wide range of work I would have access to within the organisation. I’m always keen to take responsibility where appropriate and possible and felt that I would be able to do that at Allen & Overy. Once I spent some time in the team in 2012, I knew it was an organisation I wanted to be a part of.
How do you manage your disability at work?
I’m really quite fortunate in that it doesn’t affect me too much. Obviously, most of my working day is spent sat down in one form or another, whether that’s at my desk or in a meeting. I loosen my prosthetic limb when I’m sitting at my desk, and when I stand up, it ‘clicks’ back into place through a mechanism, so it can cause some colleagues to wonder where the sound is coming from!
I just have to be careful that I don’t overdo it outside of work. A few long days and evenings where I’m very active can lead to some soreness on my stump, where the prosthetic can rub at times, then I may be limping around slightly. No different from a rugby or football injury sustained at the weekend, I guess!
How has your employer helped you to do well at your workplace?
Allen & Overy have been really accommodating. I sat down with HR before I started, and we discussed how the prosthetic affects my day to day life. As I said above, I’m fortunate not to be affected as much as others may be by their disabilities, but simple things help. HR approached my trainers in advance, just to give them a ‘heads up’, which takes the pressure off me to discuss when they’re completely unaware. I’m very relaxed about people asking questions and so forth, so I just mention to people, in case you see my leg off (as it is occasionally) or hear it clicking in, it’s nothing to be concerned about. Everyone’s really relaxed about it.
Where do you see your career heading?
First things first, let’s just qualify! I’d love to qualify into A&O once I complete my training contract. Where my career goes from there, who knows, but I think it’s safe to say I would definitely like to progress up the career path internally towards becoming a partner. I’m a really keen skier outside of the office and run a charity, so there are goals on the side there too, but I worked hard to get to where I am and my priority is my career here.
What advice or top tips would you offer?
Just be honest, up front and talk about your disability. For me, it was all about how I portray myself to others. I don’t feel limited by my disability, in fact, I think my experiences give me a unique view on lots of things and enable me to bring a different viewpoint to the table when we’re working on a deal. I firmly believe that a disability can be a very positive factor when seeking a job because you develop very specific ‘soft’ skills which others won’t have picked up through experience. It comes more naturally and can really help you make an impression, not because of your disability, but because of your personality.