A Spotlight on Inspiring Women in the Legal Profession

Laura Thomas

Legal and QHSE Director at Jackson Civil Engineering

Laura’s career started at the criminal bar; she is now legal and safety
director for national engineering business, Jackson Civil Engineering.
Joanna Robert at Meraki had the pleasure of interviewing Laura:


1.What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

Undoubtedly having 4 wonderful boys whilst holding down a career
(and surviving home schooling in lockdown!)

 

2.What has been your biggest challenge in your legal career and how
did you overcome it?

My biggest challenge has been trying to remain true to myself. If you’re
not careful, the legal profession can push you towards thinking you
need to be someone else or act in a different way. An example being
when I was a young female member of the Bar; I dealt with disparaging
Judges as well as clients who said I looked too young (how I would love
that nowadays!) More recently I was described as being ‘different’ to
others in the organisation I worked in and whilst this was said to me in a
positive way, standing out from the crowd can be scary. However, we
are all amazing in our different ways and having the confidence to be
ourselves is key. How did I find the confidence? I’m not sure I have, ask
me again when I retire!

 

3.What piece of advice would you give others who are wishing to
embark on a legal career?

A few thoughts:

1. Be decent; always remain respectful and polite; don’t be a keyboard warrior, only write down what you would be prepared to say to somebody in person; avoid archaic phrases such as ‘noted’ and ‘with all due respect’ as they are far from respectful.

2. Don’t use 10 words where 5 will do (and avoid Latin!);

3. Make it look good - If a document looks good you’re 50% of the way
there;

4. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes, it’s how you handle them and
lessons learned that’s key;

5. Be open to opportunities. My career started at the criminal Bar, I am
now an in-house lawyer and safety director for a civil engineering
business. In between I was a Partner in a law firm, Deputy Traffic
Commissioner, legal adviser to the Government and Head of Risk for a
global subsea services group. These roles have found me because I was
open to possibilities. I have had a rich and varied career as a result but
certainly not the career I envisaged when I was called to the Bar. 6. Have
a life you don’t need a holiday from! We’re a long time working and
whilst you will always have tough days be sure that overall you’re
happy doing what you’re doing.