Case study

Lawyer, Department for Work and Pensions — Emma Minihan

Six years after graduating, Emma coordinates on human rights issues for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP)

What degree course did you study?

I gained my Law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE) in 2009 before completing my LPC at the College of Law in 2011.

How did you get your current job?

I successfully applied for my training contract at the Government Legal Department (GLD) in my final year of study at LSE.

After graduation I took a year out to go travelling and then studied the LPC, funded by GLD. I started my training contract in September 2011 during which I worked in two litigation teams, for the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Education.

I am now based in the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) where I coordinate on human rights issues for the department, deal with complex social security litigation with an EU element, and advise on reciprocal agreements.

What's a typical day like?

There is no such thing as a typical day in my current role, which is one of the things I enjoy most about my job. At the moment I spend a great deal of my time on EU exit-related work.

What do you enjoy about your job?

I enjoy the diversity of the work and the fact that issues and cases I am advising on are regularly in the news.

What are the challenges?

The downside of not being expected to specialise is that you need to be able to advise on wide-ranging areas of law at very short notice, which can be stressful at times.

How relevant is your degree?

My law degree provided exposure to a variety of legal topics, which helped me to decide what I was interested in. However GLD recruitment is competency based so, provided you can show that you can meet a particular competence, your degree subject isn't relevant.

How has your role developed?

One of the things which attracted me to the Government Legal Department is that you are not encouraged to specialise. In fact, the longest I have stayed in any role to date is two years. In my next post I hope to develop my secondary legislation drafting skills and/or to work on a Bill going through Parliament. I would like to take a career break at some stage (another advantage of working for the Government Legal Department) to volunteer.

What are the best things about working in this sector?

I like the mix of politics and law, as well as working in a sector where the issues you handle affect public life.

Finally, what advice can you give to others?

Get as much work and life experience as possible to help you work out what areas you are interested in and to help you stand out when answering competency-based questions.

Find out more