Name: Louise Bloomfield

Organisation: DAC Beachcroft

Role: Partner

Based: Leeds

Trained at: Eversheds

Year qualified: 2004

What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?

A vivid memory was the time I went to a turkey abattoir to take a witness statement, but the best memory of my training contract was the time I spent on secondment at Asda, which was a fantastic grounding doing employment law in a fast paced, high quality legal team and seeing really early on what clients want from their lawyers – this set me up really well for my career.

They also used to have these fabulous lunchtime meetings with celebrity appearances, where I got to meet all sorts of people including Peter Andre and Trinny & Susannah (it was the early noughties), and one day Julie Walters walked past my desk while I was drafting some pleadings, which isn’t something that happens every day.

Tell us about a sliding doors moment when your career could have gone in an entirely different direction?

When I was coming up to qualification, I was offered a job in the in house legal team at a large travel company and one at Pinsent Masons. I can remember sitting in the car park after the in-house job interview thinking “what do I do?”, and calling my now-husband who said something along the lines of “you’ll learn a lot more working with different lawyers who advise lots of different clients” (this was despite the very generous travel company discount!) so I went to Pinsent Masons, working with great people and clients for four years before I joined DACB in 2008, whom I had got to know while working alongside them for a common client.

For me, working in a large, high quality team with lots of clients across multiple sectors, and in particular fast markets such as retail and hospitality, is where I really thrive, and that’s how my career has been for the last 20-odd years and how I’ve helped shape the employment team at DACB in Leeds to be one of the largest employment teams in the North, working with a huge variety of businesses. I’m also now head of the DACB Leeds office so I love to draw on that experience to help our various teams work closely together, and also make sure we’re attracting and retaining the best talent.

What’s the hardest question you’ve ever been asked at interview, and how did you answer?

I was once asked at a particularly challenging university interview to “define a lie” by the interviewer claiming that a pen was a banana. As a young 17 year old, that left me a bit stumped and all I could say was “no it’s not, it’s a pen” – not sure if they were expecting something more cerebral than that!

Recently I had to answer the “what do you do for a job” to my son’s class – explaining what an employment lawyer does to 5/6 year olds is really quite hard so I avoided mentioning the Acquired Rights Directive and said “I help businesses sort out problems they might have with the people that work for them”. When I asked my son what he took from that, he said “do people die?”. I hope not.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?

Work hard, be yourself, and don’t try and do everything on your own – ask for support if you need it. Being a full time working mum, that last bit of advice is something I keep having to remind myself of a lot!

The other important thing I always remind people about is to build your network and stay in touch with people as best you can. People you went to university or law school with, people you trained or worked with, clients and contacts you’ve met along the way, and other professionals you meet often have a habit of turning up somewhere where you might need them or they might need you. It’s also great to have that network to introduce clients to each other as often shared experiences can lead to solutions to problems, and that’s what I love to help clients find.

Tell us about ONE former colleague who you miss, and why? (It doesn’t have to be a lawyer)

I’ve had the privilege of working with lots of brilliant people over the years but one person I do miss working with is a former colleague of mine, Nicola Johnston, who is now deputy HR director and employment lawyer at Durham University. Nic and I were NQs together and really grew up dealing with complex cases where, in the early days, we often felt out of our depth, but we together learnt the importance of speaking up when it’s tough and having each other’s backs so when you feel like the world is against you on a matter, you help each other out.

I remember I had a really horrible discrimination claim with a challenging claimant and 10 witnesses, and one day she came back to the office at about 10pm to help me get through it. No matter who you are, or where you are in your career, everyone should know someone has their back, and importantly also have a lot of fun and laughs along the way, including going to see the Spice Girls while waving an obligatory glo-stick (the last part is not mandatory).