Catherine Mathews

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Law
Job title: Partner
Subject of study: Law
Year of graduation: 2000
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Stephens Scown LLP

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

When I finished my LLB I took a year out and worked in various different companies in Exeter before deciding to do the Legal Practice Course so that I could become a solicitor. I got a training contract at South West firm Stephens Scown LLP and have been with the firm since 2002. I qualified as a solicitor in 2005, specialising in commercial litigation and became a partner in 2012. In addition to my legal skills, I have developed business and leadership skills through being a team leader and, most recently, joining the firm’s Board. My legal practice involves dealing with a wide range of commercial disputes, including contract disputes, shareholder and director disputes and claimant professional negligence work. I often have cases which involve an international element. I also deal with defamation and reputational work for both businesses and individuals.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

I wanted to do something that was intellectually challenging and would also give me the opportunity to put my people skills to good use. I opted to become a solicitor rather than barrister because I wanted to work in more of a team environment. I really enjoy the range of legal work that I do as I get to learn about different sectors of industry and meet very interesting people. The part of my job that I enjoy the most is helping to train the next generation of lawyers at my firm, through supervising trainees and also heading up the Commercial Dispute Resolution Team. I also really enjoy being able to influence the direction of the business through my position on the Board.

Please tell us if you were a member of any societies, groups or sports clubs?

I was a member of The Bracton Law Society.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

The wide variety of areas of law we studied and the ability to choose modules in the second and third years. There were some really great lecturers too, some of whom had contributed to major legal text books. The highlight for me was getting the highest mark in our EU Law module and winning a prize from Clyde & Co as a result – some money and a trip to their London office.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

I made some fantastic friends and had a lot of fun going to the various balls and other social activities that were on offer. I fell in love with Exeter as a city and I still live in the area.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

The main reason was that the law school had a great reputation so I knew that it would set me up well in my future career. The location was also a big factor. I liked the fact Exeter was a small city and it wasn’t far for me to go home and visit my family in Cornwall. I have also always loved the variety of Devon two beautiful moors and coasts.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

My technical legal knowledge is founded on the work I did during my degree and it also taught me the analytical skills I needed to be able to solve legal problems for my clients.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

Get as much work experience as you can. My firm and many others offer work experience programmes and it is good opportunity to work out what strand of the legal profession you would like to go into and what type of firm you would like to work in.

 

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Benjamin Rana

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