Dyslexia didn’t stop Amy Fletcher from achieving her legal dream and today she works as a private client solicitor in Newcastle.
Where do you call home?
I have lived in Newcastle for the best part of 10 years now. But home for me is an old mining town in County Durham. Most of my family still live in the area and I like to go back to see them, but I think city life is for me.
Tell us about your role?
I am a private client solicitor – I specialise in wills and probate. I help people with estate planning and also, assist with the legalities around bereavement. It can be an emotional job, but it is really great to be able to alleviate stress from families when they lose a loved one.
How did you get to where you are today?
My journey started in an RE lesson in secondary school. We covered a crime and punishment module which is when I first started to think about the legal system and when I first really started to think about its importance. My journey (which included watching legally blonde for the first time) from there led me to a lot of studying and eventually finishing university.
Getting into the legal profession is not just a case of getting good degree. You also need to have work experience and life experience. I do not think I would be where I am today without the part times jobs I had growing up.
My first legal job was as a legal secretary at a law firm in Darlington. I learnt a lot from that job, and it gave me the foundation I needed which eventually lead to securing my training contract (a two year period of working at a firm at the end of which, you are able to qualify as a solicitor).
A few years later a joined Pepperells to help kick start their Newcastle based private client team and I have never looked back.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
As many people do, I had ups and downs during my studies. I found out at the end of my second year of four at university that I was coeliac and also, dyslexic. For a while I thought that I was going to have to give up on my dream of being a solicitor, I just did not think that I was clever enough to do it and I could not understand why. Up until that I had always worked hard but when I did, I was able to achieve good grades. I reached a point during my degree where I really just began to believe that I had hit my ceiling with my education and that I would not be successful in a legal career.
After sharing my lecture notes and listening to some comment from loved ones such as “you have always had to work harder than your friends” and “Amy, did you mean to use a C instead of an M”.
A lecturer then asked me to stay behind after a seminar one day, he was concerned because I didn’t seem to be taking things in. it’s funny because those lecturers have so many pupils and you rarely have involvement with them for more than a year. So, I assumed he just thought that I was not trying hard enough. As it turns out, he noticed something was not quite right. That finally gave me the push I needed to look into dyslexia and as it turned out, I was in fact dyslexic.
After I found out I think I gained a new confidence. All of a sudden, I knew what the problem was and with the support of the university, I could see a way through.
I continued to work hard and managed to finish my masters integrated degree which combines with the legal practise course with a 2:1. Something which two years previously I did not think was possible.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
I spent six summers and two years of weekends and evenings as a lifeguard. I took the lifeguard course despite not being a very quick swimmer. I was nervous the whole time that I would not be able to do well enough in my timed swim. I think my lightbulb moment was passing that course, it filled me with the motivation that I should never shy away from something just because it is difficult.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
My advice is to keep at it and to practise self-awareness. If you want it and you are willing to work for it, you can do it. If things seem like they are too difficult, take a step back and try to understand why.
But more than all of that, my advice is to be happy. Yes, working life is always going to be up and down, not every day is going to be rosy, but no job can be a dream job if you are not happy doing it.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I love the quote “make plans but write them in pencil”. I would tell myself that planning is important but that you need to be ready to make compromises and adapt with the way life changes.
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
Courage, kindness and determination.
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