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- Sheena SoodSenior Partner, London
I am the Senior Partner of Beale & Co. My role involves advising clients on a number of different issues including contentious construction, professional negligence and health and safety.
Another significant part of my role involves working alongside colleagues in the leadership team in leading the strategy and direction of the firm and management of various issues internally. I have an external facing role representing the firm with a significant part of my time spent on business development.
I grew up in West London with my parents and three siblings. My parents emigrated from India to the United Kingdom in the 1960s, and both worked full time. I attended a local comprehensive school up to A-levels and had a number of Saturday/summer jobs throughout my education. My parents stressed the importance of education to us from an early age and this is a value which has stayed with me to this day.
My father was called to the Bar in London and completed a pupillage but never obtained a position with Chambers. It was his desire to forge a career in law and untimely death which largely inspired me to pursue a legal career. My interest in the law also came from volunteering at my local Citizen’s Advice Bureau which I found to be really valuable work experience. During school, I was accepted into Brunel University to study computer science. However, at the last minute, encouraged by my family, I requested my course to be changed to law and this was luckily accepted! I owe so much to the unfailing support of my mum through my education and beyond.
My law degree at Brunel University was a thin sandwich LLB course and involved working in industry for 3 summers out of the 4 years of the course. The first industry experience I gained was working within the legal department of the London Borough of Hounslow for 6 months. Working with its dedicated lawyers on child protection issues was eye opening. I then sought to obtain experience in a private practice law firm which I discovered was difficult, especially with no links to the legal industry. I wrote letters to a number of different firms requesting work experience placements. Of the letters I wrote only two law firms responded, one of which was Beale & Co which then offered me a (paid!) placement. During this placement and subsequent placements with them, I worked closely with Antony Smith on contentious construction work, gaining great experience. This is where I gained an interest in the construction industry. I particularly enjoyed helping clients to get disputes solved and the ‘highs and lows’ of litigation. Mainly the highs! The skills required go beyond pure legal knowledge.
I was offered articles (a training contract!) in 1990 and went on to qualify in 1992. I have stayed at the firm since qualification and so have been working at Beale & Co for almost 30 years! One of the key reasons why I enjoy working at the firm are the people and the clients I work with. I also enjoy the many different internal business aspects to my role as well as the external aspects of business development. The day job is incredibly varied, mentally challenging and interesting.
One of the ongoing challenges I have found with working in the legal industry is achieving a good work life balance. I have two children Shania and Ash and, whilst by no means easy, through the support of my colleagues and my husband Sanjay, I was able to both progress at the firm and raise a family. I believe they have benefitted from seeing me go out to work and progress in my career whilst at the same time being there for them and having them as my absolute priority.
My advice to those embarking on their careers is to listen hard and learn from others, to always maintain a professional approach with colleagues, clients and all others you interact with along the way and, above all, to be yourself.
- Amanda NortonCompliance Manager, London Office
I am the Compliance Manager at Beale & Co. My role involves ensuring the firm is compliant with regulatory and statutory obligations. This includes advising the firm on SRA requirements, anti-money laundering regulations and data protection rules.
I grew up in the West Midlands with my parents, sister and brother. My father was a dentist and my mother was a trained secretary. My parents got married in 1965 and this is when my mother stopped working in order raise the family.
I attended a local state school up to O-Levels (now GCSEs). When it came to choosing my A-level subjects, I did not really know what career I wanted to pursue. So, instead, I focused on choosing subjects which interested me and these were English, History and Mathematics. I studied these A-Levels at my local 6th form college.
After A-levels I went to Hull University to study a degree in American Studies. This combined literature, history, politics and involved a year studying abroad at an American University. I was lucky enough to go to the University of California which was a really valuable experience, albeit a bit of a culture shock! It felt like a different world as there was no internet or email back then and there were also time delays on the phone lines whenever I called home.
After university, I still did not know what I wanted to do, so I decided to train as a Chartered Accountant at PKF, qualifying in 1996. In 1997, I joined the Law Society as an Investigation Accountant. The team I worked with eventually became part of the Solicitors Regulation Authority (“SRA”).
After a number of years, and by now a mother of two, I moved to the Regulatory Management team within the SRA, which conducts regulatory oversight of the largest firms. As well as my regulatory work, I wanted to expand my personal development by training in coaching. During my spare time, I completed a training course at Warwick University and qualified in 2016. I found that coaching is a valuable way for me to help others in achieving their goals and reaching their potential.
After 20 years as a Regulator, I decided that it was time for me to move on to a different role. I then applied for the role of Compliance Manager at Beale & Co, joining the firm in June 2018. I wanted to use the regulatory and compliance knowledge I had gained throughout my career and apply it to a private practice law firm.
One of the main reasons why I enjoy working at Beale & Co is because there is a very supportive environment, which is largely due to the people at the firm. Additionally, I really enjoy the international aspect as it creates a whole new dimension to my role. I have had to learn how other jurisdictions operate in order to advise our Dubai and Dublin offices on compliance. Further, the firm has supported my flexible working arrangement with a 4-day working week, and has been hugely supportive as I am now also a carer after my husband suffered an acquired brain injury.
The area of legal compliance is increasingly becoming a specialism in its own right, and I would say to anyone considering a compliance role in a private practice law firm that, no day is ever the same. There are a steady stream of new regulations being introduced which require law firms to constantly adapt. This makes it an incredibly varied, interesting and diverse role.
- David MurphySolicitor, London
I am a Solicitor in the Contentious Construction team at Beale & Co. My role involves working alongside Partners and Senior Associates to advise clients on a variety of different construction disputes, which include arbitrations, adjudications and court proceedings.
I grew up in Hertfordshire, attending a local state school. At this stage, I did not contemplate that law was a feasible career option and focused mainly on sport at school – in particular cricket – whilst trying to balance this with academic studies.
I began studying Politics and Business Management at Loughborough University in 2008. From the start of university until September 2017, I was a professional cricketer at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club. I thoroughly enjoyed playing cricket, however after suffering some injuries in 2014, I began to explore other career options. Amongst a number of different work placements, I undertook some work experience at two law firms, which was stimulating, and a good introduction to the field.
I have found that many of the skills that I developed in my cricketing career dovetailed seamlessly into a career as a solicitor. I became used to working in a team environment, and operating under pressure. Through cricket, I also developed a competitive edge that can, at the appropriate times, be put to good use when working in disputes. During the years of cricket, I also became familiar with attending networking events, having hosted various tables and boxes with sponsors over the years, which I hope in time will help with business development.
I began studying the GDL part time in 2016 whilst continuing to play cricket full time and applying for training contracts. Beale & Co immediately stood out to me as being welcoming from the first interview and I certainly did not feel disadvantaged as a career-changer. In fact, throughout my interviews the firm was genuinely interested in hearing about my previous career and my experiences.
I began my training contract in Beale & Co’s London office in September 2018, and am very pleased to say that I recently qualified! During my training contract, I had the opportunity to attend a client secondment and spend one of my seats in the Dubai office assisting on and attending an arbitration, which were both great learning experiences.
One of the main reasons I enjoy working at Beale & Co is that trainees and newly qualified solicitors are given a high level of responsibility at an early stage. Even on large dispute cases, Partners will value your input on the strategy of the case, which assists your training and career development. There is also a great work/life balance and the firm is supportive should you be working longer hours due to an upcoming deadline for example. There are many opportunities to make a mark on the firm at the start of your career, ranging from writing articles on recent legal decisions, to organising presentations to other fee earners and clients.
To those seeking a career in the legal profession I would say that it is achievable and advise people to build a good rapport with other trainees/colleagues, ask plenty of questions and get used to working hard!