by Zanub Najmi | 4 November 2019
Recently we sat down with Danielle Hammond, a qualified lawyer from New Zealand who has recently moved to the UK to pursue a career in childcare law. Danielle is a Locum Childcare Lawyer working within a London Borough via Sellick Partnership since arriving from New Zealand 6 months ago.
There is currently a huge demand in local authorities across the UK for Childcare Lawyers of all levels of experience. There has been a large increase in childcare lawyer job vacancies across the legal locum sector and we have noticed there is a shortage of experienced qualified lawyers to fulfil these positions.
As a result New Zealand/Australian qualified lawyers have been enormously popular and tend to do remarkably well due to their transferable skills and knowledge within the childcare legal sector.
In this Q&A, Consultant Zanub Najmi gains some inside information from Danielle Hammond, a qualified lawyer who has recently moved from New Zealand to get an insight into her experience on transitioning from a government department in New Zealand to a local authority in London.
- Can you tell us a little bit about your background and experience?
I studied law, psychology and social policy at Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand. Going into university I always wanted to work in child protection law. During university I did an internship at the Police Prosecutions in Wellington. After University I was lucky enough to get to work as a solicitor at Oranga Tamariki, Ministry for Children. This role involved doing some benefit prosecutions but was mainly child care/protection law. After working for two years, I was ready to explore the rest of the world.
- What made you want to move over to the UK?
My life plan was always to come over to the UK, experience British life and travel all over Europe. England is so close to Europe and getting anywhere from New Zealand takes forever!
- What made you want to work in local authority childcare?
I have always been really passionate about human rights – especially children’s rights. They are so vulnerable and you don’t get to choose the world you come into, it’s honestly luck if you get a great set of parents. Being involved with childcare law, it is an area where you actually make a significant life altering change to better someone’s life.
- What was the transition like moving from The Ministry of Children in New Zealand to a local authority in London?
The transition itself hasn’t been too difficult. The law is essentially the same, just different numbers and abbreviations. The people you work with are really kind and helpful too. The main difference I have found would be the role we play. In New Zealand we were both the advocate and the solicitor, and although I know that is an option here I haven’t really had the opportunity. The other difference would be the tight timeframes in each case. 26 weeks for a case to be completed can go so fast, whereas at home in New Zealand the case is generally in court for their whole childhood.
- Has the move to United Kingdom been worthwhile in regards to your work? And if so, why?
Coming over here I have been exposed to so many different scenarios. The population of London is so much greater than New Zealand, so there is more exposure to unusual cases. The cases involve more diverse cultures and tend to have more of an international element than I would be exposed to in New Zealand. The Courts and the Local Authorities have a more varied and vast range of resources available to them and I feel I am learning about different solutions and how they can benefit the client and the child.
- What is it you enjoy about the role? Which aspects do you find challenging?
I like that every day can be a different challenge and that I am constantly being exposed to different situations. The people that are involved in childcare law I have found are always welcoming and friendly - you easily fall into being a part of a team. Working in London is flexible in a way, as most Local Authorities offer a work from home day each week. The challenging part would be the roll-over of cases, each case is only meant to be before the court for 26 weeks, which can make timeframes very tight, but it’s still exhilarating when a case comes together at the last moment.
- You have now been working within the public sector as a Childcare Lawyer for over 4 months. How are you finding it?
I feel like I am really starting to settle in and I’m becoming more confident day by day. I’ve been to two separate Local Authorities and have been lucky as they both use the same Central Court, which has helped with consolidating the court processes. The workload in general tends to vary depending on how smooth the cases are. From time to time there can be issues that arise which can be very time consuming. Overall I’m really enjoying this experience.
- How was your recruitment process with Sellick Partnership?
The process was seamless, I started the process about a month prior to arriving in the UK. I sent my CV through to Sellick Partnership and had a chat over the phone about what job areas they thought I would be suitable for. They helped me alter my CV so that it would relate to the UK local authorities and that my New Zealand experience was easily understood and translated well.
Sellick Partnership then managed to set me up with interviews within a week. They set them up so that I would have the interviews clustered together for time efficiency and even sorted out what tube I needed to take. The team at Sellick Partnership are really lovely and after every interview they would call so I could have a debrief about how the interview went. They were really lovely and ensured that I received a good rate and could go on holidays that I had already organised.
- Do you have any words of advice for a New Zealand/Australian qualified solicitor moving to London/UK?
Definitely have a chat to the team at Sellick Partnership before you arrive, just for ease of mind as they give you a realistic understanding of the job opportunities in the UK. Have the recruiters look over your CV, to ensure your skills and qualifications translate to the UK market. Also get a criminal record check completed in your home country before you leave, as you don’t want to be waiting for over a month when you arrive in the UK for your home country check to come through.
About Sellick Partnership
Sellick Partnership is a market leading recruitment firm within the legal sector with over 600 locums currently working for across the UK. We specialise in a range of sectors and areas within Legal such as public sector local authorities, central government, in-house and the private sector.
Sellick Partnership will provide you consistent support throughout your job search process from the initial screening, feedback on CV to being placed in your role and thereafter thus making the procedure as smooth and efficient as possible.
Myself and the public sector team worked with Danielle prior to her moving to the UK to understand and establish her experience and requirements. Utilising this information and helping to tailor CV to the area of law she required. We were also able to set up multiple interviews for Danielle. Due to the great relations we have with the London Boroughs it was easier to manage her interviews, feedback and multiple job offers she received.
If you would like some additional information or are interested in working as a lawyer within a local authority in the UK, please feel free to get in touch. We regularly work with lawyers with very little local authority experience and we would be more than happy to help you.
Alternatively, you can visit our legal locum jobs page and view our latest vacancies.