When I began my career as a paralegal with McAlister Family Law, I genuinely had no clue what I’d let myself in for. I anticipated I would spend a lot of time with the photocopier and kettle, as I developed my limited knowledge of the law. I can’t deny the fact that I’ve developed a deeply rooted love/hate relationship with the printer, but equally I could never have envisaged the extent and variety of fascinating tasks with which I am trusted to carry out on a daily basis.
One of the best things about working for McAlister Family Law (MFL) is that it is a firm dealing with both Legal Aid and Local Authority childcare cases; I assist with a wide variety of different clients and issues including, but not limited to: domestic violence; non-accidental injuries; sexual abuse; substance abuse; jurisdiction issues, deprivation of liberty and discharge of care orders.
There is no such thing as a typical day at MFL because the nature of our work lies so far outside the parameters of predictable. From issuing care proceedings to meeting with clients, reading psychological assessments and drug reports, briefing counsel, drafting orders, watching police interview footage and writing statements, the variety is infinite. I have visited courts across Lancashire, sat in many a court room at the Manchester Civil Justice Centre, been to a rehab facility (context: to take a client’s statement), visited an 11-year-old child to take instructions from her and even been involved in a pre-trial conference with a Queen’s Counsel in London.
Any preconceptions I may have had about right and wrong, victim and perpetrator, have gone out of the window since working here, and this is something for which I am eternally grateful. This is a job that requires you confront societal constructs and expectations, and challenge them.
Admittedly, I am new to the legal sector, but I believe MFL’s work environment is like no other. I joined the firm having only an amateur understanding of the law, obtained from my local library and reading the Children Act 1989. But as I seek to broaden my knowledge, every question I ask – and I ask a lot - is answered with careful consideration, with no colleague too busy to offer their help and advice. And someone is always happy to keep you company at the pub!
Every day is a new learning experience, and I am grateful to be surrounded by professionals who are generous with their knowledge and encouragement. I couldn’t have chosen a better environment in which to pursue my legal career.