In conversation with Fiona Haigh: Hairdresser turned trainee solicitor
By Fiona Haigh
We checked in with Fiona Haigh to find out how she's getting on. Fiona has changed career and is in the first year of her training contract.
"I'm the first in my family to enter the legal profession - I changed my career from hairdressing to law. I believe it's never too late to set a new goal or dream. Never let anyone tell you, you can’t do it!"
Have you always wanted to be a lawyer?
You might be surprised to hear me say no I haven’t. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I left school. I thought I wanted to be a hairdresser, and this is what I ended up doing, but if I’m honest I never really felt like it was for me. I worked hard and achieved my qualifications but never felt content. However, I always had an interest in the legal profession due to personal circumstances and I enrolled on an access course when I was 26 and here, I am!
What's been your career story so far?
I have previously lived in Lincolnshire and North East Lincolnshire. I was state school educated and have 8 GCSE’s, I also have a NVQ level 3 in hairdressing, an Access to Higher Education Diploma, a first class LLBHONS and my LPC/LLM.
As a family we moved to Yorkshire in 2017. I had completed an Access to Higher Education Course in Humanities and Social Sciences, and this is what made me want to do a law degree. Having researched the best universities I had seen that Leeds Beckett was a good choice for me. However, one of the biggest reasons for moving was for my son who has ADHD and Autism. He wasn’t getting the right support or guidance from schools, and I wanted to make sure he had more opportunities and support. I appealed to get him into a great school here and it was the best decision we ever made. He is now thriving at his secondary school. My husband was able to secure better quality jobs and has recently been given the role of supervisor. I am very proud of my boys.
Tell us about your typical day as a trainee solicitor
I started in the wills and probate department in April 2021 as a legal adviser and was given additional training. Currently, in my trainee solicitor role, I split my time between wills and probate and the child abuse department to get some contentious experience.
My day in wills and probate will usually start with me coming into the office around 8.30am. As I come in I'll have a chat and say hello to the receptionist. If I am at the Wakefield office, you can bet I'll be making a brew and offering to make one for my colleagues! I'll then have a catch up with my team, we'll discuss important things about work, and most certainly a giggle about something.
Once I've caught up with colleagues, I'll settle down and check my emails, listen to any voicemails, check my diary and make myself a to do list to ensure that I prioritise the most important tasks first. My day usually consists of me meeting with clients and taking their instructions, I will then be drafting wills, trusts and powers of attorney. In the wills department we are designated an enquiry day, mine is a Monday, so I'll respond to enquiries that come through on email or phone on Mondays alongside completing my own tasks. As a team we assist each other in checking work before it is sent to a client. I take a break at lunch time to clear my mind so that I'm refreshed and ready for the afternoon. I'll revisit emails and phone calls I may have missed. I will also check my diary for the following day to see if any new appointments have been booked in.
Some days involve networking, in and out of the firm. I travel to different offices and get to speak to and spend time with other Swits colleagues - I love that everyone is so welcoming. I gave presentation to a carers' group on lasting powers of attorney.
My time spent working in the child abuse department is really different as I am sitting in on trials and doing attendance notes. On the days that I am not at court, I review medical records and choose the relevant information that could help our client's case.
As trainees we've joined the Junior Lawyers Division and attend networking events and get togethers.