“My degree taught me the importance of detail in the analysis of a legal argument”

Graduating from The University of Hull in 2006, Joseph Dawson took his love for law and his passion for helping people to become an Associate Solicitor at Leigh Day Solicitors, one of the UK’s most respected human right firms.

My career in law started a lot younger than most people. As a self-confessed movie buff, I was highly influenced by the provocative legal films I religiously watched: Philadelphia, A Few Good Men, JFK and My Cousin Vinny.

Choosing to study at the University of Hull was also a no-brainer for me. Not only was it one of the top ten law schools in the country, it was right on my doorstep – so I went to an acclaimed university and studied an excellent law course, all the while remaining close to my friends and family.

Whilst studying at the University of Hull, I was taught by some of the best educators in the country. My time at the university allowed me to meet a group of friends who I still see regularly. The support from these incredible people was the biggest influence on my years at Hull.

Although I don’t have any significant regrets, as always, hindsight can be a beautiful thing. If I had to go back in time, I would probably spend more time planning for my career path at an earlier stage, as opposed to attempting to do this whilst I was studying for my final LPC exams and facing leaving law school without a legal role to immediately go into.  

My academic career at the University of Hull ultimately helped to guide me on the career path I find myself on today. The degree I achieved was the key I needed to take the next step to an LPC, which led me to my first legal job and the eventual qualification as a solicitor. My degree taught me the importance of detail in the analysis of a legal argument. There are rarely (if ever) any easy answers to legal issues and the only way to achieve a goal is to focus on the level of detail and analysis required to do so.

Following my 3-year law degree, I moved onto the College of Law in York to complete my LPC. I then gained the paralegal role for a high-street personal injury firm in Norwich and after 1 year at the firm I was offered a training contract which I completed in May 2010. Shortly after, I was offered a position at Irwin Mitchell LLP in Birmingham, working in the International Travel Litigation Group department, where I spent over six years.

It was in November 2016 when I was offered a role at Leigh Day Solicitors, continuing my work for claimants involved in serious injuries abroad, and then after two years with the firm, the role of an Associate Solicitor.

Working for Leigh Day Solicitors has allowed me to develop my career which continues to expose me to a wide range of cases where my legal abilities and experience secure regular successful outcomes for my clients.

One of my most interesting career stories is definitely the time where I ran a multi-party road traffic accident in France to a 5-day trial as the liability of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau to my client, a case that was then widely quoted in articles and text books concerning serious accidents abroad and the development of legal principle

There’s no question about it, Law is a very demanding but equally as rewarding of a career choice. There are many who wish to follow a career path in law and the competition can be so fierce, you can never expect to be entitled to the career/job that you want. If you have the dedication and the determination to work hard and see it through, most likely paying some dues along the way, you have every chance at having a successful career in law.

For more information on Joe, or to contact him, see his career page at Leigh Day

One thought on ““My degree taught me the importance of detail in the analysis of a legal argument”

  1. Would you be interested in the following?

    Ramblings of a Maths graduate from the ’60’s

    They say (not sure who says it?) that going back is a bad idea; leave the past in the past and memories unsullied.

    However, despite such sage advice I have been back twice over the years and walked around the campus. It brought back a lot of memories, all good, but for reasons I can’t explain discovering Loten Hall is now used for offices, no longer a hall of residence, was a bit depressing. Not sure why that is? Is it just getting older and aversion to change? Is it because it somehow has destroyed part of my past? Any psychologists out there?

    I graduated in 1969 in Pure and Applied Mathematics. I have memories of Professor Cockroft: Dr Dunning-Davies; Dr Brian Pearson; Dr Thompson; a bloke with beard and glasses who taught vectors and stuff; a great bloke who taught Fluid Mechanics (Thompson?); a really good bloke who taught in the Pure Mathematics Dpt, (Denning?). Then all goes blank. Is that really 50 years ago? Am I really this old? Wonder where they are all now; hopefully not all in the blue yonder.

    Spent my first year in digs (pretty grim) out near Hull FC ground; took ages to get to the Uni’ on the buses and my bedroom was freezing cold even in Summer. Used to spend as much time in the central library in the town (which I must say was excellent) before heading back to my cold and, am convinced, damp bedroom. My mum and dad gave me an electric blanket for Christmas (do they still exist?) which, when I switched it on, caused steam to rise from the bed misting up the small window through which wind would blow even when it wasn’t windy.

    I had never liked eating breakfast but the landlady wouldn’t have any of it. I recall on a number of occasions the bacon on my plate would be swimming in one to two inches of grease. Once it really was much worse than usual; all soft fat and no lean bits; so whilst she was in the kitchen I threw it on the coal fire which resulted in an unbelievable spitting of bits of coal all over the hearth rug which cost me 50% of that term’s grant to replace. The next two years were spent in Loten Hall where I had a great time. Loved living on campus. Don’t think I ever left It during term time apart from visiting members of the opposite sex (well, maybe just one woman and just one visit) in the College next door.

    I must admit, and I know it’s not cool to say, but all that sit-in stuff passed me by probably due to complete indifference and total apathy. My goal was always to try and get a good degree as I had always wanted to do research for which, from memory, required at least a 2-1. I decided others could be left to sort out the planet and the politicians.

    What is a bit depressing now is trying to remember names. As you can see, I can only recall the names of a couple of lecturers, which is pretty bad and embarrassing.

    Unlike the complete lack of demand today to study Maths, in my day there were between 100 and 150 of us in each year mainly males but also I believe a sprinkling of females. I’ve racked my brains for names but due to senility or whatever I’ve struggled. I apologise if anyone is reading this who knew me whose name I have long forgotten. The paltry number of names I can recall, or believe I can recall, are Terry Hakes (for some reason I believe he may have been from Maltby but can’t be sure). Where are you now Terry? He had a friend called Barry Spur; Steve Maltby from Armthorpe near Doncaster; Dewhurst also rings a bell. But that’s it. How sad is that??

    In Loten Hall the only names I recall are John Bailey who studied chemistry; he had a mate also studying chemistry, a really nice guy, from Newcastle (I think), a bell ringer but no idea as to his name. Bill Tate, in the year above me, from Saltash who drove a little Riley which we took to Hornsea late at night trying to impress women (didn’t work of course).

    So 1969 came to a close and we all went our separate ways our paths in general never to cross again.

    For my part I headed off to Sheffield University for a post-grad year followed by a year working in the steel industry as a statistician. Bought my first car, a clapped out Morris Traveller (£40 I think). From there I returned to Bradford University’s Management Centre to do an MBA and thence to the big city, London, where I remained for the next 30 or so years.

    Did all the usual; got married; had two sons; got divorced !!

    There’s no doubt, looking back, my memories of my time at Hull are some of the happiest. The 1960’s were very good to me and I thoroughly enjoyed them. I think my generation is/was one of the luckiest; free studies in brand new settings and freedom to do as we wanted. We have also been fortunate not to have been dragged into wars unlike our parents and grandparents.

    Anyone who’s reading this and may feel that we might have know each other please get in touch.

    Malcolm Finney



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