Rise to the challenge and do it – one lawyer’s advice to her younger self!

12 Mar 2020

Rebecca Thornley-Gibson grew up in the Peak District, but moved 200 miles south at the start of her working life.  She also became a parent in the early days of her career, so she understands the challenges of managing family life with two young children whilst juggling a burgeoning career as an employment lawyers.

Fast forward to 2020, and Rebecca is a successful lawyer and partner at DMH Stallard.  She is regularly approached to comment on topical employment issues and has recently featured on television, the radio and in the national press.  Known as ‘an approachable, no nonsense lawyer who works hard to achieve the best results for her clients’, her parents - a miner and a secretary from her home town of Buxton - must be enormously proud of her success.

This is a brief story of her journey in the law.

When I started my law degree in 1986 I was the first in my family who hadn’t left school at 16 to go straight into the alternative School of Life and Hard Knocks.  I’d wanted to be a vet, but it turned out that I was rubbish at science and a bit squeamish, so I turned to the law; I also thought it might be useful if I moved on to my second choice career of a police officer, but being scared of the dark put paid to that one, too!

Finding myself as a qualified solicitor in 1992 was a bit of a shock:
  • How did I get there? 
  • Why did I get there?
  • Did I want to be there? 
Some 28 years on, I can genuinely say that I haven’t once regretted my haphazard career choice.  That’s not to say that there weren’t times with two children, juggling childcare and the inevitable “this is really making my brain hurt” challenges of the law, when life as a coffee-shop addicted gym bunny and full time shopaholic sounded wildly attractive; in fact there were many of those moments! 

But reflecting on the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met and the constant learning I enjoy, I would absolutely say to my younger self: “just get on and do it, be challenged, it’s not going to kill you, and it won’t be more gruesome than childbirth!  Most importantly, you’ll have a career that gives you the financial independence to make real choices.”

With a good helping of resilience and patience, and a bunch of no-nonsense family and friends who do properly important jobs (police, NHS, fire officers, social work), I feel privileged to have spent my working life forging a career that just a few decades ago would not have been the norm for women.

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