Christine Nestor

LLB Law (Hons), Post Graduate Diploma: Legal Practice
Solicitor (Equity Partner)

I studied A Levels in Geography and Sociology and AS levels in Law and English at Collyer’s from 1990-1992. Collyer’s was a world away from secondary school and the learning and teaching was on a different level. It was a special and exciting time – full of fun and inspiration. The learning environment really excited me. My personal tutor and Law tutor were invaluable in their guidance on my university path.

I did not plan a career as a lawyer as I thought it was out of my league but knew that a Law degree would be attractive to a prospective employer. I had been undecided between Sociology and Law, but my Tutor helped me decide.

I did an LLB (Hons) Degree in Law at Hallam University, Sheffield and afterwards took an administrative post with Sussex Police in the Criminal Justice Support Unit. This involved processing prosecution files between the Police and the CPS and liaising with witnesses and victims to schedule trials. Then with support from my husband and a loan to cover the fees I did a one-year Legal Practice Course.

My experience at Law College was very different to Hallam as the course was very practical and fast paced. The majority of students went straight there from university and with the same mindset. They found it a big leap, but I found that my year in work focussed my mind and I passed with Commendation. I then spent two years training on the job, applying for a Training Contract or “Articles” in a Law Firm, involving hundreds of handwritten letters.

Results for the LPC were published in The Times and it was only after that point (a coincidence?) that I started receiving invitations to interview. I knew I did not see myself in a corporate firm and accepted a contract in a large regional firm offering experience across a wide area of legal practice. After my two years I was offered a position, with encouragement that I could make Partnership “one day.” I am still here and indeed an equity Partner, giving me a share in the business and responsibility for running and developing it.

In terms of my contribution to society I spent 10 years volunteering with the Youth Offending Service in Sussex, chairing Referral Order Panels and went on to train as a Restorative Justice Conference Facilitator. I was also President of the Worthing Law Society in 2021/22.

How does my day look? I begin by checking my diary for appointments, Court deadlines, emails, and post, and prioritise actions for the day. I may be seeing a new client to take instructions and provide advice on a legal issue or to consider Court documents they have been served with, or meeting an existing client to discuss case progress, disclosure documents or consider settlement proposals. I can be considering Court documents, disclosure and evidence or drafting applications, witness statements, Orders and pleadings or attending Court to represent a client. As an Equity Partner and Compliance Officer for Financial Affairs, I will oversee financial transactions, deal with staff and office issues and may find myself in meetings in connection with those responsibilities.

I love that after 23 years in the job, I can still be surprised and challenged every day by what comes my way. To fulfil my role, you need the ability to critically analyse data, documents, and legislation, communicate effectively, be persuasive and compassionate. For someone looking to get into a similar post, offer to undertake work experience to demonstrate skills and willingness to learn – I have taken on trainees and staff this way.

Looking back, the advice I would give to a younger me is do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask questions. When I gave up a job to go back to Law College, I realised it was all on me to succeed, that I was in charge of my learning and I pushed aside fears and self-consciousness to challenge and question everything, to maximise my learning experience and opportunity.

What next Christine? Climbing Mount Everest! Having achieved all I feel the need to in my profession and career, I have taken to altitude to seek freedom and personal development in the mountains. Maybe not Everest, but having climbed in the Alps, Andes and Himalayas, the latter is where I always find myself going back to – where I was first mesmerised by Ama Dablam, often referred to as the “Matterhorn” of the Himalayas.