Sarah Daun, managing associate, reflects on her legal career progression and the support she’s received from the Womble Bond Dickinson (WBD) since university.
Having grown up and studied in Newcastle, I knew that I wanted to work in the region, so I was thrilled when in my second year of university I was offered a training contract by what was then Dickinson Dees.
In the nine years since I joined the firm, it’s fair to say a lot has changed (not least through two name changes) but what hasn’t changed is the supportive, encouraging and friendly environment.
I am now a managing associate in WBD’s commercial team and I advise clients on their commercial contract requirements and data protection compliance.
Every law firm provides training to its staff but what has really helped me develop is that WBD has matched my skill set with opportunities as they arose and really challenged me to take on projects and new responsibilities – even though I sometimes questioned whether they were within my capabilities.
I have been lucky enough to lead on the firm’s Exporting is Great initiative with the North East LEP. I also played a pivotal role in advising on elements of the redevelopment of the SSI site at South Tees, spoke at regional events on the GDPR in front of audiences of more than 250 people and represented the firm on the CBI North East Future Leaders Group.
Lucy Pringle, a legal director at the firm, has showed me that the work we do in bringing together businesses to share know-how and best practice is as important as imparting information about legal developments (and probably, if we’re honest, more interesting for everyone). Working closely with Lucy, I have developed an interest in the manufacturing sector, too.
The firm’s sector focus, combined with our strong manufacturing sector client base in the North East, has meant I have not been short of opportunities. I have focused on considering the issues that really matter to manufacturing clients by organising practical seminars to facilitate the sharing of best practice and also worked with the North East Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) to encourage junior to mid-level employees in the process sector to form a network in the region.
My work in the sector culminated in being awarded the Young Achiever in the Supply Chain category at the NEPIC Annual Awards 2018. I was delighted, as a lawyer, to be recognised in this way and this would not have been possible without the support of the firm.
Alongside all of these initiatives and my legal work, I have also started a family. Balancing a demanding and challenging legal career with the equally demanding needs of a toddler has not been easy – but the flexibility the firm has shown and my team’s understanding of those challenges has enabled me to obtain a promotion to managing associate within a year of coming back from maternity leave.
I know continuing to balance my career with my personal life isn’t going to be easy but knowing the support is there if I need it makes that a challenge I don’t worry about overcoming.