Working as a lawyer for Dorset Council
A personal blog from Hannah – I began working for Legal Services back in 2008 as a full time Legal Assistant in the Property Team, while studying for my CILEX qualifications part time. The council have always supported my studies, contributing towards expenses, and allowing me to work flexibly to accommodate my studies following periods of maternity leave. I was able to train ‘on the job’ and gained a wealth of experience, as I fitted my studies around my increasingly busy family life.
From the start of my time with the council, I was impressed at the level of trust that was placed in me. I was expected to work as a junior fee earner rather than shadowing and assisting another colleague. I was given day to day responsibility for specific areas of work from day one and encouraged to take on further areas of work as my confidence grew. At times, this could be daunting, but colleagues were always there to help answer any questions I may have, and I have been provided with all of the resources and external training I needed to expand my knowledge base as my practice area expanded.
Over time, I became particularly interested in the council’s role as highway authority and I was supported in building my expertise and experience in this area. Since completing my CLEX studies, I have been appointed to a lawyer role in the Regulatory Team which encompasses a wide range of work including highways, planning and environmental matters. The variety keeps the work interesting and challenging so that my practice area continues to grow. I get to work with colleagues from a range of services, as well as elected members and have been able to build relationships internally and externally.
Dorset Council has always offered flexible working and continues to expand the options available to employees. They understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and make every effort to support employees as their needs change. I’ve been supported through three maternity leaves and returns to work and the flexibility in my working pattern means that I can enjoy a great work/life balance. When lockdown was imposed and the schools were closed, senior leadership were understanding and realistic about the challenges faced by parents and the support that I received whilst home-schooling three young children was exemplary.
Dorset is a fantastic place to live and work and I take great satisfaction in supporting the county and its communities through my work, whether that be expanding our rights of way network across our glorious countryside or working with developers on a major new housing development. The council offers the freedom to take on interesting and complex work with a mix of clients and I learn something new every day. I have always felt at home in the legal team and have ‘grown up’ with my colleagues as I celebrated getting married and starting my family. This ‘one team’ approach is felt across all and I am looking forward to returning to the office for a long awaited catch-up with colleagues whom I have not seen in person for some time.