Kate O'Brien's Career Journey | Bolt Burdon Kemp Kate O'Brien's Career Journey | Bolt Burdon Kemp

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Kate O’Brien’s Career Journey

We interviewed Kate O’Brien, Senior Solicitor in our Child Brain Injury team, about her career journey so far.

  1. What is your current role at BBK?

Senior Solicitor in the Child Brain Injury team

2. What was your first role at BBK?

Medical negligence solicitor

3. What further training or further exams did you need to complete after school or university to achieve this?

I completed my undergraduate law degree in Ireland but later moved to England and decided to qualify here. I applied to the SRA for an exemption from the Graduate Diploma in Law. I was granted exemptions in all modules, except for English Land Law (as the land law module I studied focussed only on Irish Land Law). Having completed the English Land Law module, I was able to commence the Legal Practice Course. I did this part-time whilst working as a paralegal and managed to secure a training contract at the same firm. Fortunately, the firm recognised my prior experience, which reduced the length of my training contract by six months (the maximum allowed). After completing an 18-month training contract, I finally qualified as a solicitor!

4. What attracted you to your chosen career?

I always knew I wanted to work in an area of law that would make a meaningful impact on other people’s lives. Early on in my career, I started working at a firm specialising in personal injury and medical negligence.I could see how rewarding it was to advocate for individuals who have experienced life-changing injuries, and to work towards ensuring they receive the compensation and support they deserve.

5. How long did it take for you to ‘qualify’?

LLB = 4 years, LLM = 1 year, GDL module = 1 year, LPC = 2 years, Training Contract = 18 months. Almost 10 years from when I started my undergraduate law degree!

6. What did you study at university?

I did my LLB in Law and European Studies, followed by an LLM in Criminology and Criminal Justice.

7. What is the most satisfying part of your role?

The opportunity to be a source of support and justice for families facing the immense challenges of caring for a child with a brain injury. Being able to secure the compensation and resources they need for their care and well-being is incredibly gratifying.

8. What advice would you give to someone considering the same career route as you?

Students who started their law degrees in Ireland from September 2021, are no longer required to take English Land Law to qualify as a solicitor under the English system. If you have an Irish law degree, you are eligible to sit the recently introduced Solicitors Qualifying Examinations. No matter what route you take, the road to qualification isn’t a short one – but it’s well worth it in the end!

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