Tasmin White is a Solicitor at Hudgell Solicitors, specialising in clinical negligence.
What made you decide to become a solicitor?
When my parents arranged work experience for me at a local firm of solicitors, I was unsure law would be for me but from the very first day of shadowing the partners, I was hooked. I then did a GCSE in law and before I knew it, I had applied and been offered a position on the LLB (Exempting) Degree at Northumbria University. This four year course fully integrated the Legal Practice Course allowing me to put the theory into practice simultaneously and meant I left ready to apply for a training contract.
How and why did you choose your area of specialism?
I always wanted to practise in Clinical Negligence but during my training contract no seat was available in this specialism. I did however do a seat in family law and enjoyed the day to day contact with clients, making an immediate difference to their lives, so when I was offered a job as a newly qualified solicitor in the Family Department in 2007, I took it.
Then a few years later, after being made redundant, I faced a cross roads in my career. At that moment I decided to move into the specialism I really wanted to be in, Clinical Negligence.
Describe your typical day in the office.
A typical day for me is fast paced and challenging. I use all the skills I have acquired over the years to gather evidence and analyse it, consider the merits of a claim and advise clients.
Which has been your most interesting case to work on, and why?
Every case I work on is interesting me to. I take special care to really get to know each client so that I can support them through what is often a distressing and emotional time for them. However, some cases do ignite an additional interest for me and these usually involve a delay in diagnosis of cancer. I’m currently helping a grieving daughter investigate the death of her mother where the Trust missed a rare small bowel cancer.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
I would like to be working toward becoming a member of the Law society Clinical Negligence Accreditation Scheme, a quality mark for solicitors practising in the area.
What are the most rewarding parts of the job?
Like all clinical negligence practitioners I'm sure, we all want a successful outcome for our clients but sometimes it is helping individuals understand why things happened the way they did, so that person can come to terms with their situation, without doubt holds the most reward for me.
What are the most challenging parts of the job?
As a Clinical Negligence solicitor we have no formal medical training but we need to be able to understand vast amounts of complicated medical issues in order to apply the law to each case. This is extremely challenging especially when no two cases are the same.
What is the most common misconception about what you do?
That everyone has their day in court. This is simply not true. The vast majority of genuine clinical negligence claims will settle before court proceedings have even been issued.
Do you have any role models or mentors who have inspired your career choices so far?
When I made the decision to change specialisms I spent some time working with a number of inspiring women with long and successful careers in clinical negligence. They opened my eyes to not only the complexities of clinical negligence but the challenges that lay before me in changing specialisms. This filled me with grit and determination to succeed.
How did you find your university experience as a law student?
I loved university and especially so as a Law Student. I took part in the Student Law Office, a free legal service provided to real people with real legal issues. Providing legal solutions at such a young age meant I felt a great sense of achievement early on in my training; and I had just as much fun as any other student.
What key skills do you think all great solicitors need?
Running a large caseload of client matters demands both time management and organisational skills to ensure that every client receives a high standard of care and that the various rules and code of conduct solicitors are governed by are vigorously adhered to. Excellent communication skills, an analytical mind and commercial awareness are also essential.
What advice would you give an aspiring solicitor?
A career in law is not easy. I have faced challenges and disappointments but I never gave up. Take opportunities when they present themselves and remember, it's never too late, or too hard, to achieve the things you want in life.