Pauline O'Rourke, Senior Associate Family Solicitor at Thursfields Solicitors

Posted in Interviews on 31 Jan 2018

Tell us about yourself Pauline

I am a Senior Associate family solicitor in Thursfields Solicitors based in their office in Solihull, West Midlands. I am a Law Society accredited family law specialist who qualified in 1991 following graduation in law from the University of Birmingham and attending Leeds Polytechnic School of Law for the old-style Law Society Solicitors’ Final exams. I left school at 16 with a handful of “O levels” and, after working for 10 years and with some part time studies, bit the bullet and became a full time mature student. I took up my current position in January 2018 having just returned from the Falkland Islands where I worked on contract for 2 years for Pinsent Masons LLP delivering a family law service to the local Island community and those from the St Helena and Chilean communities.

Tell us a bit about Thursfields

I am honoured to be working for Thursfields, a well established Legal 500 law firm with over 140 staff in eight offices throughout Worcestershire and the West Midlands, and which delivers legal services including property, family, employment and commercial law as well as probate and litigation to the local and business community.

Tell us about your role as Senior Associate?

As a Senior Associate I deliver quality legal advice and representation in all aspects of relationship breakdown, being divorce, financial matters, property and money settlements, children matters and those disputes arising for the unmarried couple. At my senior level, I will conduct those cases which have a high net worth as well as those of difficult and complex nature with company and pension aspects.

What made you pursue a career in Law?

I always had an interest in court dramas (does anyone remember Crown Court from the seventies?) and when I studied basic contract law for my part-time business studies I saw myself as some sort of future consumer champion. It took a University open day to finally convince me after 10 years to hand in my notice ( I was by then an admin clerk) and become a full time student.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Following my change of direction by working in the Falkland Islands, I have fallen in love again with the job. I had almost lost sight of what it means to be a lawyer, the impact you personally make on people’s lives. You take them on a journey through their most difficult times and the reward is seeing them settled and happy and moving on.

What are the main challenges about your role?

The challenges as a solicitor, whether it is practising in a large city or a small remote Island, is getting the client on board from day one and working as a positive team together. Over the years I have been retained by some pretty hostile clients to start with.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career and why?

The biggest influence on my career was my first senior partner. He was old school and referred to me, in front of clients, as Miss O’Rourke. I was still learning and, if I asked for help, I was told to research it and “look it up”. Sounds harsh, but it taught me how to use Halsbury’s Laws and Statutes and discover the provenance of a law or procedure and to deliver advice with academic confidence. A skill which became of immense use in the Falkland Islands.

What has been your career highlight?

It would be easy to say my 2 years working in an overseas territory but I do recall, in my early days when I did some commercial litigation and a case involving a claim for rent on commercial premises. My opponents were overseas and I needed to enforce my judgement. It was registered the day following Hong Kong being handed back to China and my overseas judgement came back as “No 1 of 1” in the Hong Kong Chinese court.

What has been your greatest achievement so far in life?

My greatest achievement has been sticking at it (often against the odds) and realising my dream of becoming a solicitor and expert in my field.

What is the best piece of advice you can give to an ambitious Solicitor at the start of their legal career?

And my advice to a lawyer at the start of their career? If you are going to be doing family law, don’t expect thanks from a client!

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