Name: Rachel O’Connor
Role: Senior associate
Trained at: Harold Michelmores (now incorporated into Wollens)
Year qualified: 2010
What’s your most vivid memory from being a trainee?
A site visit with the Judge and counsel days before a trial where I was acting for a client who was defending a claim in trespass. The client was accused of letting his dogs run and foul on a neighbouring field.
Just as we finished walking around the field and came to the back of my client’s home and as we stood by a large floor to ceiling window, my client’s three enormous Great Danes launched themselves at the window barking and slobbering all over the glass. I don’t know who was more impressed, the Judge or the work experience girl with me who (it turned out) was absolutely terrified of dogs.
What is the wisest thing anyone ever said to you (and who said it)?
The most unproductive reaction when under pressure, is stress. I cannot remember if anyone has ever actually told me that but I have certainly seen it in action!
Who (for better or worse) has been the most influential person in your career? Why?
A total cliché but it has to be my dad who is an entomologist. We always joke that he has never worked a day in his life because he absolutely loves his job. He is still writing books, teaching, undertaking consultancy work and is an active member and former Vice President of the Royal Entomological Society despite being in his 70s and having been retired for over 10 years. He worked his way up from a laboratory technician when Plymouth University was still a polytechnic to being a global expert on spiders and beetles – he even has several species of beetle named after him as he discovered them.
One of the highlights (for me at least, as he is far too modest to ever talk about it) is that he was an advisor to Sir David Attenborough on Life in the Undergrowth. His achievements are borne out of his absolute passion, devotion and love of insects and the natural world. He has not only inspired my love of nature and the environment but he has demonstrated how you can use your platform in whatever profession you have chosen to pursue those issues that are important to you.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get to where you are/do the job you do?
If you can find a way to use your job to pursue an area you are passionate about then you will be an unstoppable force.
What’s your best friend from law school doing now?
Rosemary Sharp is a partner in the family team at Lester Aldridge; a brilliant lawyer and a wonderful friend.