Case study

Associate costs lawyer — Charlotte Tym

Charlotte enjoys working with a range of departments and people in her role as a costs lawyer. Find out how she's expanding her role and her advice to aspiring costs lawyers

How did you get your job?

When initially applying for paralegal and trainee solicitor roles I had been really interested in working at Kingsley Napley LLP, given that it was a highly regarded leading law firm with a number of specialist fields.

I had very little experience and my initial application was unsuccessful, so applied again when another costs lawyer role was advertised. With significantly more experience than when I had first applied, I got offered the job and started working at the firm in 2017.

What are your main work activities?

I work with a number of departments within the firm such as criminal, clinical negligence, immigration, dispute resolution, regulatory and family. As such, I'll regularly be working on a variety of different cases throughout the day.

My work can vary from providing advice, negotiating with opponents, preparing legal documents, attending court and doing advocacy or giving training to other departments on cost law. As with any career in the law, the typical working day can be highly pressured because I'm working to deadlines, sometimes at short notice, with implications of failing to meet deadlines, but the work is interesting and makes the day go quickly.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I mostly enjoy the variety and opportunities to continuously learn and gain invaluable experience.

The cases I work on differ dramatically from low-value, fairly straightforward claims to incredibly complex, high-value claims and novel points of law. The role of a costs lawyer is one of the few within the sector where you specialise in one field of law but are still involved in others. This also means you get to work with a lot of people in the firm, rather than just your department.

What are the challenges?

The law is always developing, so staying up to date with case law and changes to legislation is vital.

The other challenge, specific to being a costs lawyer, is that there's still confusion as to the role of a costs lawyer within the legal industry. It's often not understood that cost lawyers are legally qualified with the rights to conduct the same activities as a solicitor.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

I studied at the University of Bournemouth and achieved a 2:1 in Law and Criminology LLB. After I graduated I went on to study at the University of Law to complete the LPC.

Since working I have undertaken two further qualifications which have allowed me to specialise and qualify in more niche areas of law. I began the Association of Costs Lawyer qualification course in 2014, qualifying in 2017, and became a costs lawyer. I then undertook a further qualification course with the International Institute of Legal Project Management in 2018 to become a Legal Project Practitioner.

Both my degree and the LPC were very relevant because they gave me the knowledge and understanding of the law and processes which I use on a daily basis in my current role. The degree taught me other valuable skills, such as researching, picking out relevant data, organisation and how to act and write professionally.

How has your role developed?

My role continues to develop and I've gained invaluable experience in the roles I've had to date. I'm increasingly given more responsibility and more opportunities to work on different cases or projects, and have recently expanded my role into dealing with legal project management too.

What advice can you give to other aspiring costs lawyers?

Be prepared to work hard. Law isn't a field to go into if you aren't sure about it - it'll require a lot of time and dedication, and is generally an expensive career path to follow.

Try to get as much experience as possible as early as you can. The legal industry is working to make routes into law more accessible to everyone rather than having to go to university and further education. Look into all the options available such as legal apprenticeships to see which is most suited to you.

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