Queens Court, 24 Queen Street, Manchester, M2 5HX
- Specialism: Legal
- Sector: Public Sector
- Roles: Locum, fixed-term and permanent
- Location: Kent and Sussex
Type a day in the life of sellick from Amy Swain
Hannah Nicholas is a specialist in the law relating to mental capacity and deprivation of liberty. She has a plethora of experience – from supporting vulnerable people and their families who challenge decisions made by public bodies, to advising the public bodies implementing the legislation. Hannah considers it her life mission is to ensure that those who are vulnerable are protected and their rights are promoted through the relevant legal frameworks. Hannah started her trainee legal career at a large city council and found her passion for the law relating to Adult Social Care and Health during this time. Subsequently, she worked for a niche specialist legal aid practice advising patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 and represented individuals in Court of Protection proceedings. Following this, Hannah practiced at a large international law firm advising NHS bodies on the law relating to Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty amongst other things. Hannah is now a consultant solicitor, as well as founder of Mental Capacity Cat (@thecapacitycat on Twitter). Natalie Atherall, Senior Consultant at Sellick Partnership, recently sat down with Hannah to discuss the importance of her role. What does a typical day look like for you? No two days are the same as a locum adult social care solicitor. As a locum, you are often the person who will be given urgent, pressing cases or complex cases given your expertise. I find that I could be dealing with a Court of Protection case one minute, and then receive a general query regarding safeguarding or mental health matter from someone else. You may have an idea of what your week will look like, but then an urgent referral for Court is required and the to-do list is ultimately scrapped and amended to cater for urgent queries. It’s definitely exciting and rewarding, but I put that down to the area of law rather than what sector I work in, e.g. private/public sector. You have worked in permanent and locum roles, in both the public sector and private sector. What do you find are the key differences? Whether you work as a locum or a permanent employee for either private practice or local government, Mental Capacity work involves a lot of flexibility and the ability to adapt to change. What I enjoy most about being a locum is the flexibility it provides; I am generally able to choose the hours I wish to work, whilst taking into account the client’s needs. Working as a locum is definitely more flexible than private practice. Working within a local authority is very interesting, but also challenging. One of the positives is being creative and resourceful as there is more scope for this approach. In private practice, there is always a focus on billable hours. I find both working in private and public sector rewarding, there is just a different mindset and usual set up with regards to processes and procedures. What trends have you seen in the last 12-18 months, particularly in relation to the impact from COVID-19? During the pandemic, there was certainly an increase in general queries around deprivation of liberty, hospital discharges and treatment issue. The Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) were put on the back burner whilst the focus was to support those with care and support needs through the pandemic. Now, there is a real focus on LPS again given the Codes of Practice is due for public consultation any day now. I am seeing a lot of queries around DOLS/LPS now that the restrictions have lifted and Section 21A challenges to standard authorisations are becoming more prevalent again. You have been a locum for just over two years now. What do you like in particular about working as a locum? Ultimately, I decided to locum to explore other career opportunities and hobbies that I did not have the chance to explore fully as a full time employee, as well as travelling. I enjoy Muay Thai and wanted to spend a few months in Thailand. Being a locum provides this flexibility, although unfortunately the pandemic has impacted my ability to travel recently! In addition, I have set up my training consultancy, Mental Capacity Cat. I am quite a creative person and enjoy digital design and media. I wanted to combine both my passion for Mental Capacity Law, Community Care/Health and Human Rights with my creative outlets, so being a locum provides the flexibility to do this alongside practicing as a solicitor. Another aspect of being a locum which attracted me was the ability to move around various authorities and see how things work in different areas. Each local authority faces different challenges and you meet some of the most amazing people along the way! I would say I have made friends for life during my time as a locum – although you are not a permanent member of staff, you often find your colleagues and clients become friends by the time you leave! What do you find is the best part of your job? Anything Mental Capacity Law is my thing, but the best part of my job is knowing that every day I wake up and help some of the most incredible professionals on the front line every day, supporting people with social or healthcare needs. It’s an absolute honour and privilege to know that the work I do impacts the lives of real people, with real lives, and that I make a positive difference (I hope!) to those who I support and advise. What advice would you give other legal professionals that are considering working as a locum in the public sector? I wish I knew that this was an option in the first place! When I first qualified, I came across locums and wondered what it was all about. I wish that being a locum and working in the public sector/local authority was talked about more in university or generally, as it wasn’t until I qualified that I realised this was something I would be able to do. Working in adult social care is fast paced and hard work – but it is also some of the most rewarding work you will ever do! Fancy a fresh challenge or want to hear more about the opportunities that working as a locum in the public sector can offer? Get in touch with our experienced consultants today.
Moving into a new legal sector can be a great way to keep your career fresh, challenge yourself and renew your interest in work. We have helped countless legal professionals transition from private practice to public sector jobs with excellent feedback about increased job satisfaction. I recently caught up with a candidate I placed into local government to hear about her experience of moving from private practice into the public sector. My candidate is a Property Lawyer who left a permanent role in a law firm a few months ago to take on a locum role in a local authority. What made you decide to consider working in the public sector? I was tired of the monotony of my work in private practice, I was just doing the same type work over and over with no challenge or variety. I wanted to challenge myself more so I started looking online for public sector roles and came across the Sellick Partnership website and saw that this is something you specialise in, so I applied for a job and you contacted me that same morning. How have you found your transition from a law firm to a local authority? I have absolutely enjoyed it. I have learnt a lot and I am dealing with a huge variety of cases. I am very happy that I made the move. What are the key differences between working in private practice and local authority? There isn’t the pressure of billing targets and I like that you have a consistent client base, because you are working for the council. My personal experience is that the work is quite different. The matters I’m dealing with now are different to what I was doing before so it is interesting. What are you enjoying about working in the public sector? I like the new type of workload, the variety is great. I am provided with legal resources, material and subscriptions. If I don’t know anything I can use various resources to look it up or ask anyone in the team for support. The team work closely together and everyone is really friendly and helpful. What transferable skills do you think you need to make the move from the private to the public sector? The law is the same of course, so that base of legal knowledge is all you need really as you can just build on that. Would you recommend this as a career path to others? Yes, definitely! I am really enjoying it. How do you feel about working in a locum role compared to your previous permanent role? I would say I prefer the locum role, it is flexible and I get paid better! How did Sellick Partnership support your move to a public sector role? And would you recommend us? You kept me informed throughout the process and gave me great interview tips. You were very clear and helpful at every stage. This was the first public sector application I made and I got the job! You were very swift at responding and gave me all the information I needed to be successful. I would definitely recommend you and Sellick Partnership! This is a conversation with just one of many candidates who we have helped move into the local government locum market, across all areas of law. Given our experience as market leaders, we are best placed to help you make the transition and can support you every step of the way, from working on your CV to helping you prepare for interviews and navigating through offers. Fancy a fresh challenge? Get in touch with our experienced consultants today.
Finding a legal role in this current climate can be a long and difficult process. Many junior lawyers at the start of their careers are being hit considerably hard, as they don’t have the all-important experience that many employers are deeming essential. This is particularly true within the legal sector, with newly-qualified solicitors often feeling stuck on where to turn for advice. Here Consultant Chloe Cameron has shared her top tips from writing a CV and applying for roles, right through to choosing a job from a range of offers. Applying for jobs – your CV: It’s really important when applying to jobs that your CV looks good and that it is tailored to the job you’re applying for – i.e. it showcases your relevant experience for the job. This is particularly important for NQ/junior lawyers because in your training you might have covered multiple areas of law (e.g. four seats in your training contract), but you may be most interested into going into one of those areas for your next role. There’s no point having tonnes of info on the CV from all the areas you’ve done if you’re only applying for one area (e.g. property law). It is therefore our suggestion that you tailor your CV to the job description and make sure it really showcases your property experience. Make sure this part of your experience is the first thing the employer/recruiter sees on your CV employment history section and make sure it’s very detailed in this area. You can lose some details from your other areas of law that aren’t relevant to property law. Within this, make sure most complex things you’ve done are at the top, ending with less complex duties at the bottom (e.g. admin tasks). View video from Chloe where she shares her fist tip on how to tailor your CV to help you to secure your dream role! Interview stage: Interviews are nerve-racking for anyone but the way you’ll come out ahead it to prepare, prepare, prepare! The difference between a good/average interview and an excellent one is using examples – this substantiates the claims you’re making on your CV and in the interview. Need to bring in examples are every opportunity and best way of incorporating examples into interview answers is using STAR method (situation, task, action, result). This is a widely used method and I didn’t go into it in my video, just mentioned in passing. Most people should know what this is already. Of course we need to try and answer every question and to the best of your ability, but if you don’t know something or haven’t done the thing the interviewer is asking about, then don’t lie! Equally, don’t just say you don’t know. You need to explain that you’ve not done it (or not done that much of it) but then turn it into a positive and either talk about something similar/related that you’ve done, or talk about how while it’s not something you’ve had the opportunity to do, it’s something you’re keen to pick up, and talk about relevant personal qualities to make up for this skill gap - how you’re hard-working, enthusiastic, fast-learner etc. Technical knowledge in interviews is very important of course, but the way you come across (personality/attitude/willingness/intelligence etc) can be as important. This is what might make the difference between you and another candidate. View video from Chloe where she shares her second tip on what to expect during the interview stage and how you can turn an average interview into an excellent one. Offer stage – what now? How to choose right job?: How do you know what role is right for you? How do you know which job to accept? This actually needs to be thought about way before this stage ideally. You need to know what you’re looking for and what your priorities are, because some things are more important to some people than others. Factors that might influence your decision: day-to-day duties in the role; what area of law it is; sector (e.g. public sector, private firm); location; flexibility; salary; organisation (size, values, team); progression, training – it really could be anything! You need to have a good think about these, ideally from the beginning of your job search, so that when you get to offer stage you’re confident in your decision. Equally, I appreciate priorities might change over the course of the recruitment process, perhaps in unexpected ways, so it’s worth constantly checking in with yourself in terms of your priorities. E.g. you might think salary is the most important thing but after interviewing somewhere with a lower salary than you were looking for, you might really love the sound of the job and progression and this might shift what you originally thought was most important for you. View our third and final video from Chloe where she shares her tips for the offer stage of the interview process and if you have multiple job offers, how you can decide which job is the right one for you. If you are currently looking for a legal role, please search our latest legal roles. If you are interested in discussing this topic further or have any questions, please feel free to contact me on 0161 834 1642 or email me at email@example.com