- Course: LLB Law
- Nationality: British
- Job title: Director of Monaco Solicitors, Founder of freelaw, Director of Monaco Digital
- Company: Monaco Solicitors
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I did Maths, Physics and Chemistry A-levels and was going to do a Biochemistry degree, but then decided that I wanted to do something more tangible in terms of changing 'the system' and getting answers. I found that with the sciences you just seemed to ask more questions than get answers, whereas with Law I felt that I can get inside the system and actually change it from the inside out.
I studied at the University of Leeds and went backpacking in South America afterwards. My career after uni started off in legal aid in 2004, doing Criminal Defence law. I was going to prisons and visiting some quite horrific criminals which didn't sit well with me, so I got out of that area after a year and went into Refugee Asylum and Immigration Law.
After that I had a young family and had to move on from legal aid as it unfortunately wasn't paying enough to support us in London. I went into private law, but I managed to find work which enabled me to help people who needed it, but still get paid at the end of the day – and that area was employment law. Employment law often involves lots of very human stories, and I liked that about it.
I set up my own company in 2010, called Compromise Agreements Limited and I continued to work full time as well as running this on the side. I eventually shifted to working full time on my own company in 2011, and I later rebranded as Monaco Solicitors.
The way that we got clients was through SEO, specifically by me blogging and getting on top of the Google search results pages for key terms related to our services – because at that time no other lawyers were blogging well.
How would you describe your experience at the University?
My time at Leeds was a fantastic period of my life. I made lifelong friends and began down a career path that I am truly proud of.
What did you think of your course?
The course did what it said on the tin, and with law you obviously need to learn the ins and outs, but at the end of the day I believe there's no substitute for experience of the real world.
How would you describe the guidance you've received?
I probably wasn't the easiest student to mentor as I tend to have my own ideas on the best way to do things, but the staff at Leeds were there when I needed them with knowledgeable guidance.
How do you think your time at Leeds helped you to develop?
I met so many amazing people while at Leeds, and I still believe that being able to connect with others on a personal and professional level is the key to success. I've developed my legal skills, but I've also developed my ability to work with a whole range of people and build a team.
What are your plans for the future?
My employment law practice, Monaco Solicitors, is growing steadily and last year I more than doubled the amount of lawyers and office/web development staff. I'm looking to emulate that success and growth again this year. The nice thing is, if the company makes more money, that's only because we've made our clients more money – so everyone wins!
We are developing an AI-powered chat bot that will eventually be able to advise visitors to our website with their legal queries – for example someone might ask how to submit a grievance at work, and the bot could show them an article on correct grievance procedure, and even write the grievance letter for them.
This year I also hope to develop a not-for-profit organisation called freelaw. We describe freelaw as 'open-sourcing the law' – I want to use the innovative AI technology that we are developing for Monaco Solicitors, to allow us to provide free legal advice to thousands of people. It's a huge aim but I like to think big!
What would be your top tips in terms of careers for current students?
Try working in different areas to find out what really makes you tick. For me that was working in different areas of law, but this advice could be applicable for any course or industry.