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My career progression at DWF

Read James Douglas' story about his career progression at DWF.
On my arrival at DWF, I joined the Insured Property Team in 2014 as a work experience student and I was lined up to do some work experience in the Banking team, but it was suggested that I might get more 'hands-on' experience in the Dispute Resolution team, and at the time I was fresh out of my LPC Course and this junior role was exactly what I was looking for. 

I spent four weeks assisting fee earners with various tasks related to Multi-Track litigation, which was a fantastic way to jump into the deep end and get some exposure to matters that someone with my level of experience would not usually have the opportunity to work on. My work experience was extended and ultimately culminated in an employment offer as Junior Paralegal. 

As I became more familiar with the work that the team did, I started becoming more involved with the issued Multi-Track cases that the senior members of the team were running and as I became more comfortable with that, I began to take on my own cases. I successfully submitted business cases for promotions to Paralegal in 2016 and again to Senior Paralegal in 2017.

By this time I had 3 – 4 years of litigation experience under my belt and I was running my own caseload of Multi-Track property disputes with a healthy level of supervision. This is something that I was particularly proud of and I am forever grateful to the senior members of the team for having the confidence in me to give me that level of responsibility.

Having had little luck with the Training Contract application process, I made the decision, with the full support of my Line Manager, Ben Hughes, to qualify via the CILEX route. I can comfortably say that this is the best decision I ever made. In 2020 I achieved Chartered Legal Executive status and shortly thereafter I was able to apply to be admitted to the roll of solicitors because I had completed my LPC. The experience I gained in the Insured Property Team was absolutely invaluable. The key stage in attaining my CLE status was submitting a portfolio of my work to CILEX. The level of responsibility and the exposure I had to complex cases allowed me to display a level of experience that not many Paralegals would be able to.

I accepted a qualified role in the team in April 2020. This coincided with the team winning a large book of Residential Landlord & Tenant work from the majority of our insurer clients, which could not have been better timed for me. Being newly qualified and eager to continue proving myself, and not to mention also being fairly tech savvy, I threw myself at the opportunity to develop the processes and systems the team would need to excel in that area. Alongside Amy Longworth, I now manage and supervise the residential landlord & tenant arm of the team, alongside my property litigation workload and I drive the team's development of precedents, workflows and systems. This was vital to my successful business case for promotion to Associate in 2023.

The Dispute Resolution team is now very different to the small team I joined in 2014. The team has three separate books of work under the categories of property litigation, residential landlord & tenant litigation and commercial landlord & tenant litigation, and we accept instructions from a number of industry-leading legal expenses insurer clients. This work is undertaken by a team of 12 fee earners, but the team is poised to grow significantly in the short and long term.
James Douglas 767x435

"The level of responsibility and the exposure I had to complex cases allowed me to display a level of experience that not many Paralegals would be able to."

James Douglas, Associate
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