An apprentice's perspective: Laura Birks
Dive In 2018 - The festival for diversity and inclusion in insurance.
As proud global partners of this year’s Dive In Festival, and in support of the annual theme of #time4inclusion, we canvassed the views of some of our legal apprentices on life at Kennedys, their careers, and what diversity and inclusion means to them.
Our award-winning UK apprenticeship programme, launched in 2012, sees Kennedys actively recruit from schools and colleges and welcome people to the firm from the age of 18, is something that, according to Partner and Board member Suzanne Liversidge, “allows us to reach people from a much wider range of backgrounds who more accurately represent the diversity of those we serve”.
In the latest instalment of our Legal Apprentice interviews we spoke to Laura Birks, one of our Chelmsford-based apprentices.
“There are so many different areas within the world of insurance, so getting an idea of what each of them offer is imperative to the start of your success,” says Laura, offering her perspective on a career in insurance. “The insurance world is so diverse in what it offers that it’s important you have the correct foundation for how you want to build your career. The best way to start is to have a goal - knowing what qualifications you need will ensure you can plot your next steps accordingly.”
Laura, who is part of Kennedys’ September 2014 cohort, works within the firm’s Liability Division in a team that deals with litigation arising from insurance claims, and advises on defence, recovery and coverage issues for insurers. The depth of knowledge required to assist the team is something that Laura is thoroughly enjoying.
She says: “Working for insurers means we have to be up to date with key issues and report on what these issues mean for insurers. I have been involved in the creation and publication of articles on what Brexit has meant for insurers and what they face in relation to driverless vehicles and vehicles being used as weapons in terror attacks. There is such a diverse range of issues that face insurers today and they come to lawyers for advice on these.
“The insurance world is so expansive that being involved in legal disputes arising from insurance claims means I am part of one of the biggest sectors of the UK economy. It is nice to know that my contribution is part of a bigger picture.”
It is nice to know that my contribution is part of a bigger picture
Laura Birks, Legal Apprentice
It has only been four years since Laura began her legal apprenticeship with Kennedys, but she is clear about the importance of raising your individual profile and embracing diversity and inclusion.
“The insurance sector prides itself on inclusion and diversity and they hold a number of networking events to showcase this. I would advise that if you are looking at getting into insurance, get yourself along to one of these networking events and make some connections in the insurance world. It will also show your support for diversity and inclusion, which is an area that insurance professionals really value. At these events you will meet other professionals which can give you advice and help you make new connections within the industry, this can lead to introductions to people who can later help to build your career.”
In March 2017 Laura was named Apprentice of the Year by BPP University law school, beating 90 other entries in her category to secure the award. Since then, Kennedys has been awarded the ‘Top Employer - Law’ award at the AllAboutSchoolLeavers Awards in both 2017 and 2018 as a result of its legal apprenticeship offering. Laura believes that one of the reasons for this success is how supportive the firm is towards its legal apprentices.
“My supervisors, mentors and Kennedys, as a whole, have been hugely supportive of the apprenticeship and are understanding when it gets difficult to manage a full time job alongside exams.
“My favourite part of my apprenticeship has been being able to work and earn while I study and apply the knowledge I gain in the classroom into a workplace situation. From when I first started four years ago I have been given more and more responsibilities, and I have seen myself grow in confidence and knowledge. As a result, I am able to advise my insurer clients with confidence that I am giving them informed and correct advice.”
This year marks the start of a two-year campaign, Awareness into Action. After three years of raising awareness of the business case for diversity and inclusion, the global movement now looks to harness the energy of previous years to encourage action throughout the sector.