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The words travel and tourism conjure up an image of sun, sea and sand, but, as recruiters note, legal jobs in this sector are not quite as glam as you might think.
“The area of travel and tourism is broad within the law and the idea of being involved in it can be far more glamorous than the reality,” says Tarnjeet Purewal, a consultant at RedLaw Recruitment. “For example, it can encompass lawyers working in the insurance sector, dealing with group or individual claims for accidents, illnesses and other holiday complaints - essentially a form of personal injury law.”
And the sector has not been immune to the global crisis, notes Lynn Crean of Pro-Legal.
“Despite its apparent gloss, travel and tourism law is volatile and at the mercy of the global economy,” she comments. “Work can be plentiful or sparse. As it stands, the economy has been at a critical juncture since the start of 2012 and, as such, new areas of opportunity for travel and tourism lawyers are arising in the UK, particularly in London and the larger cities, both on the litigation and the defendant side.”
So what kind of experience would best set you up for a career in this sector?
“For those who are keen to focus on the hotel and leisure industry, you will often be part of a distinct practice area, but come together on a specific matter - whether transactional or contentious - for a client in that sector,” adds Purewal. “A good example would be firms that developed teams to work on projects like the Olympic Park development or employment lawyers looking at companies’ flexible working arrangements and policies to deal with workers avoiding London following the influx of tourists.”
On the litigious side, experience in personal injury will stand you in good stead, insists Crean.
“Ideal candidates will have a strong background in handling serious personal injury and fatal injury claims, including weighty High Court litigation,” she says. “Experience in aviation accidents and travel law can be advantageous, although it is not essential.”
“There are firms that specialise in this particular area who are highly regarded for their personal injury capabilities,” adds Purewal. “Irwin Mitchell has an international travel litigation group that will deal with these matters, normally through a specialist company or website to process the initial claims via claims handlers and lawyers.”
Are there many prospects for travel then?
“Unfortunately, working under the umbrella of travel and tourism does not automatically mean you are guaranteed trips to tropical destinations,” acknowledges Purewal.
As for in-house, the opportunities are as broad as the private practice sector.
“Opportunities can range from in-house at a global insurer to general counsel on a budget airline’s legal team,” says Purewal. “With Olympics and Paralympics fever in London, you may expect insurers to be busy processing a variety of claims at this time.”