A crooked but true: the story of Anna Casey-Woodward
The influence of my LGBTQ+ identity on my career is different now than it was when I started my journey in Cornwall.
The culture at the time in law firms was as wild as Cornish beaches, but far less scenic.
I joined the University of Exeter in 2009. Opportunities for work experience were scarce and I was terrified of the impact the lack of day-to-day exposure in a legal career would have on me.
The dominant discourse, even today, is that work experience is the only way to success, and that if you don’t get an apprenticeship, your legal career will be sabotaged.
Nothing could have been further from the truth, and I wish I had known that at the time.
I finally started a professional experience, but only a few years later, within my LPC at OXILP (a joint body of Oxford University and Oxford Brookes).
I became a criminal defense paralegal at Legal Aid and that’s where, unfortunately, I was laid off.
Although brief, as most good things are, working in this field ignited my passion for the law.
I took about a year away from the profession after my dismissal.
I took time to reflect and thought a lot about myself, my values and my future. I thought about what was important to me and how I could achieve it.
Then came my progressive epiphany: I did indeed want to be a notary.
With my passion reignited, I began applying to local law firms, spending hours researching and perfecting my applications.
I was ready for anything – answer the phone, make coffee, tidy up the desks. It didn’t matter.
In March 2014 I joined a high street company as a typist.
Before Christmas of the same year, the company offered me an internship contract, which I accepted. Merry Christmas to me.
My journey from them to now has been a jumble of experiences. Some parts of it were wonderfully unexpected and some terribly.
There have been several times in my career where I have been the victim of homophobia and transphobia.
Sometimes I regained my authenticity at work to avoid exclusion and discrimination. Others when my mental health suffered deeply.
I’m grateful to be at a company now with more support for the LGBTQ+ community, but I’m saddened that a culture of unacceptance and support is still prevalent in even the most progressive parts of the country.
I see how much of a difference being authentic has made to my work.
I wish all my LGBTQ+ colleagues felt the same way.
To anyone struggling to find their way: what you learn as you work your way into the legal world will make you a better candidate for the job you want.
The paths aren’t meant to be straight forward and it’s okay to stumble – that’s where you learn.