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Louise Barker, chartered legal executive, shares her experience returning to claimant work to pursue a more fulfilling role following a stint in defendant work. 

Imagine if you will, white scrolling text on a black background. In a claimant law firm, here at Minster Law in fact, I began my legal career, many years ago. More years than a lady would care to admit!

What started as a part-time job in the call centre after leaving university to earn some extra money whilst I decided what I wanted to do with my life, quickly developed into me progressing to the legal department as a trainee fee earner. From there I moved into the tech department and began my studies to qualify through CILEX. I had high aspirations and wanted to move into the multi-track department, which supports our seriously injured clients, but something at that time always seemed to hold me back.

After several years and many, many exams, I decided to seek pastures new and moved to another claimant law firm handling EL/PL claims. Yet something was missing. I didn’t feel challenged, and I eventually took the leap and moved into defendant work.

It was enlightening to see how the other half lived, from how they investigated liability to their tactics for litigation and settlement. For many years I learnt the tricks of the trade and swore blind that I would never do claimant work again, but deep down something was still missing.

There is a certain level of delegation in defendant work which I felt led to a lack of human relationships and it was that which I missed. There is no greater feeling than building up a relationship with your client and getting them an outcome that they are happy with. The gratitude also gives me a nice, warm glow.

When an article written by a Minster Law colleague popped up whilst scrolling LinkedIn one evening, I thought I’d take a nosy at the website. I wasn’t actively looking for a change of career but when I saw the posting for a multi-track fee earner, I took it as a sign.

My defendant colleagues thought that I was bonkers, why would I want to go back ‘to the dark side’?

But here I am, seven months later, settling into my new role. The work is hard but fulfilling and I am loving having the time to spend speaking with my clients, building up that connection I was sorely missing. It’s also been lovely connecting with former colleagues, and it feels as though I’ve never been away.

It seems pretty ‘light’ from where I’m sitting.