At #YesSheCan we got the opportunity to have a chat with Dionne Linda Brady, Trainee Solicitor at Charles Wood & Son. We chatted about overcoming challenges and her advice to women in business. Things that are worth having in life don't come easy. We are not here for a long time, we are here for a good time! So try to make the most of the time you have and don’t worry about sweating the small stuff.
I’m a 28-year-old Trainee Solicitor, originally from the city of Edinburgh having moved to Fife three years ago, I now work in a place called Kirkcaldy – a small town situated on the East Coast of Scotland. I know Kirkcaldy well as I used to travel by train with my mum and sister to visit my grandparents when I was young. I used to love travelling over the Forth Bridge and taking in the views of the Forth. Each day is different which is what I enjoy most about my job. I work closely with my Manager who has practised as a Solicitor for over 40 years. On a Monday morning, I am usually preparing for cases that are due to be called in Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court that day. We are regularly instructed by other solicitors who are based in cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow and they ask us to cover their cases for them. I enjoy this part of the job because I never know what kind of case I am going to cover!
Other days I am often drafting Guardianship applications, Initial Writs to be lodged in Court, meeting with new and existing clients and appearing in other types of Courts such as the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland which is now Scotland’s housing Court. I am always learning!
When I was around 7 or 8 years old my parents separated and I recall my mum struggling financially with being a single parent to my older sister and I. She needed legal advice in relation to her separation and she was able to get access to that because of Legal Aid. I remember thinking that I wanted to eventually be able to help somebody like her. Now I can say that I work for a firm of solicitors who pride themselves on being able to offer Legal Aid to people who could not otherwise afford legal advice.
I faced many challenges to get to where I am today. I did not get good grades in High School because I made friends with the wrong people. I was severely bullied because I had red hair. Thankfully I made the decision to move schools for my final year and I managed to get myself three qualifications that put me in a better position to be able to apply for office jobs which is what I did before applying for College to study Legal Services. It was then that I found my passion for law.
After graduating College, I took a year out to work before applying to University for the third time and I was accepted! I studied my LLB (law degree) part-time in the evenings twice per week 6pm – 9pm whilst holding down a full time 9-5pm job for an Edinburgh law firm. I owe a lot to that firm because they supported me throughout my degree and gave me the flexibility I needed when I went on to study the final part of my legal education which is the Professional Diploma in Legal Practice at the University of Edinburgh.
Coming from a working class family people I know would often mock me when I told them that I wanted to study law/become a lawyer. I remember phoning a well-known University and speaking with somebody in their legal department because I was interested in studying Law. I was laughed at because I was considered not to be ‘good enough’ to study at their University.
I had to tell myself “I am going to prove you wrong, I am not going to give up”, and that’s what I did. I researched other ways to get a law degree and waited for a couple of years so that I could be classed as a ‘mature student’ and that’s when I was accepted into University.
Whenever I am having a horrible day and ask myself “Why are you doing this job?!”, I remember the feeling I had when my sister opened my acceptance letter and told me I was going to University... it brings a smile to my face every single time.
It is important to feel passionate about what you do because it is what inspires you to keep going and to never give up. I found studying the law very interesting and that is what inspired me to keep going through five years of University. As a Trainee Solicitor your passions change because you are no longer studying, but you are putting all of your skills into practice. You are physically meeting people who are your clients; people whose lives you are hopefully going to make better and that, for me, you cannot get much better than that.
People believe that lawyers make a lot of money – and maybe that is true in some cases. I work for a small, modest family-run firm where people are at the heart of the business. Legal Aid rates are not terribly high but we do it to help people and that is why I love my job.
Being a woman in business
As a female, I have more empathy for people which I think is very important in a role like mine where clients are telling you about their stories which can often be very upsetting for them. When I qualify as a solicitor in August, I will be the firm’s only female solicitor and I take that very seriously as I want to get a good example for other young female solicitors.
I believe the legal industry worldwide still has a glass ceiling when it comes to women in the workplace. The legal industry was historically male dominated although this is slowly but surely changing. We have to keep striving for change to break that glass ceiling. We have to keep positive and show people YES SHE CAN.
To any woman looking to start in a male orientated business I would say It’s okay to feel overwhelmed. Take your time with any piece of work that you have in front of you. Always be respectful to anybody you come across in the industry you work in, as you never know when you might need their help!
I don’t think many businesses address the matter because they think that it does not apply to them – when in reality, it does! No matter how big or how small a business is, it is important to set a good example so that both female and male workers feel appreciated. By giving women more responsibility and roles that enable them to show the skills that they have. This will lead to other women being inspired to do the same and show that they are capable when given the opportunity.
“Nobody is better than anybody else!”
Be confident and know your strengths as well as your weaknesses. Accept that you will always have things you will need to work on but have a plan of action so that you make the time to get better. If you believe in yourself others will too. Listen to what everybody has to say and take it on board. Make sure that everybody is included in conversations that affect the business, regardless of their role and gender.
Enjoyed this blog? Why not read another blog about an YSC inspirational woman?