Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.
I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A-Level and was going to do a degree in Biochemistry, but decided that I ultimately wanted to do something more tangible in terms of changing 'the system' and getting answers. I found that with the sciences, you seem to ask more questions than get answers, whereas with Law I felt that I could get inside the system and change it from the inside out.
I studied LLB Law at the University of Leeds and afterwards went backpacking in South America.
My career after university started in 2004 working in legal aid on criminal defence cases. I was going into prisons and visiting some quite horrific criminals, which didn't sit well with me, so after a year I moved onto refugee asylum and immigration cases.
After that, I had to move on from legal aid as I had a young family and it unfortunately wasn't paying enough to support us in London, so I went into private law, but managed to find work that enabled me to help people who needed it, while still getting paid – and that area was employment law. Employment law often involves lots of very 'human' stories, and I liked that about it.
In 2010, I set up my own company called Compromise Agreements Limited and continued to work full time while running this on the side. I eventually shifted to working full time on my own company in 2011, and later rebranded as Monaco Solicitors. We built our name and attracted clients largely through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), specifically by blogging and getting on top of Google search result pages for key terms related to our services – at that time no other lawyers were blogging well.
How would you describe your experience at the University and what elements would you describe as the most enjoyable?
My time at the University of Leeds was a fantastic period of my life. I made lifelong friends and began down a career path that I am truly proud of.
What did you think of your course? How has this helped in your chosen career?
The course did what it said on the tin, and with law you need learn the ins and outs, but I also believe there's no substitute for experience of the real world.
How would you describe the help and guidance given by the staff within the School?
I probably wasn't the easiest student to mentor as I tend to have my own ideas on the best way to do things(!), but the staff at Leeds were there when I needed them with knowledgable guidance.
Please tell us about your development since graduating from the university and how do you think your time at Leeds has helped with this?
I met so many amazing people while at Leeds, and I still believe that being able to connect with others on a personal and professional level is the key to success. I've developed my legal skills, but I've also developed my ability to work with a whole range of people and build a team.
Please tell us about your current role/research. What are your plans for the future?
My employment law practice Monaco Solicitors is growing steadily, and last year I more than doubled the amount of lawyers, office and web development staff in the practice. I'm looking to emulate that success and growth again this year. The nice thing is, if the company makes more money, it's because we've made our clients more money – so everyone wins!
We are developing an AI-powered 'chat bot' that will eventually be able to advise visitors to our website with their legal queries – for example someone might ask how to submit a grievance at work, and the bot could show them an article on correct grievance procedure, and even write the grievance letter for them.
This year I also hope to develop a not-for-profit organisation called freelaw. We describe freelaw as 'open-sourcing the law' – I want to use the innovative AI technology that we are developing for Monaco Solicitors to allow us to provide free legal advice to thousands of people. It's a huge aim but I like to think big!
What would be your top tips in terms of careers advice for current students?
Try working in different areas to find out what really makes you tick. For me that was working in different areas of law, but this advice could be applicable for any course or industry.