Edward Kirton-Darling


Edward is a trainee solicitor specialising in civil liberties and public law. His degree course gave him a grounding in law, greatly improving his legal research skills, analytical ability and communication skills. Getting involved in pro bono activities also helped prepare him for a master’s and life as a solicitor

What is your current profession?

I am a trainee solicitor and work for Hodge Jones and Allen solicitors in London, a chiefly legal aid practice which has specialisms in civil liberties and public law.

Describe your role.

I am a trainee lawyer and I have spent 6 months (known as a ‘seat’) so far in Housing, Crime, Civil Liberties and I am now in my final seat in the Family department. I deal directly with clients and have had a lot of responsibility in every seat I have done. This includes dealing with all aspects of a case, from taking instructions from the client and organizing the case, to negotiations with the other side and dealing with legal aid.

How did you get to be in your current role after leaving the University of Leeds?

I went on to study at UCL and completed a masters in human rights law in 2004. From 2004 to 2006 I worked in the Public Law Team at the Law Commission. My first year at the Commission was spent working on Housing Law reform, which included work on the ‘Renting Homes’ report, and I was then seconded in my second year to work on research work for Lord Justice Carnwath in his capacity as President of the Tribunal Service. I studied the LPC at University of Westminster in 2006/7, and was given a training contract by Hodge Jones and Allen in September 2006, to start in September 2007.

In my spare time, I taught Human Rights law and an Introduction to Law at London Metropolitan University and Housing law at London School of Economics. I have been involved in various legal research and publishing projects, and updated an Encyclopaedia of Social Security Law with Professor Martin Partington in 2007. I am a trustee of Legal Action Group and I play bass guitar in a band with friends from Middlesbrough.

What did you do whilst studying that helped pave the way into your chosen career?

I tried to read around the subjects I found interesting; particularly jurisprudence and constitutional/human rights/international law. I also got involved in pro bono activities at Leeds, and started reading ‘Legal Action,’ the monthly magazine published by Legal Action Group covering all aspects of social welfare law and access to justice issues.

What skills and attributes did you gain from your course and co-curricular activities?

As well as getting a grounding in law generally as well as specific legal areas, I greatly improved my legal research skills, analytical ability and communication skills. I also came to appreciate the importance of engaging, with my lecturers and with the other law students, and all the additional benefits that brings; you make more friends, you enjoy the course more and you have more fun.

What advice would you have for students studying today?

Have fun. Get involved with things and take and make opportunities in whatever you find interesting. Meet as many people as you can. Do some preparation for seminars – it makes them way more interesting. Don’t study things because you think they will get you a better job – do what you find interesting, because the best jobs are the ones you enjoy.

Personally I did a law degree because I thought it could be interesting. I enjoyed some bits more than others, so I focussed on those bits, and just kept trying to only do the things I liked until I got a job which allowed me to do (as much as possible) the things I find interesting. Of course a degree is hard work, but if you find your course inherently interesting, you stand a better chance of getting through it and going to do something you like afterwards.