Phil joined Bott and Co as a member of the Client First Response Team in October 2015.
More recently, Phil’s hard work and dedication was noticed by the Holiday Illness Team and he joined them as a Legal Assistant in June 2016.
Phil likes finding money in his pocket that he didn’t realise was there, hiking with friends and that crippling ache in his muscles following a good gym session!
We catch up with Phil to find out more about what makes him tick.
What were you doing before you joined Bott and Co?
Before working for Bott and Co I was working as a sales assistant at John Lewis. I started as a Christmas temp in stock management and was placed in the customer collection department. I worked three nights a week until 10pm and every weekend from September to January. After Christmas I had an interview to make my contract permanent and on New Year’s Day I started in the electrical department. It was pretty hectic being thrown into a new area without knowing what to do in the middle of the sale period!
John Lewis were particularly good at working around my Camp America placements so I ended up staying for around four years before realising that I wanted to pursue a career in law.
What did your experience working in American summer camps teach you?
It’s always really difficult to describe my work at camp because the only people that ever really understand it are the people that have been themselves.
The camp I worked at was split into two separate camps, one for boys and one for girls. They shared a lake front and twice a week the two camps would convene for social activities.
Working there taught me lots of skills that have definitely helped me in my life post-camp and I’m sure they’ll continue to come in handy.
Learning to live in a community of two hundred or so people in a small town in Upstate New York was definitely a bit of a shock to the system! We didn’t have electricity in most of our buildings, phone service was poor (at best) and we weren’t really allowed to use any electronic devices in front of the children. The idea is that they get back to nature and learn to live and communicate with one another rather than alongside each other. At first this seemed bizarre but now I don’t think too much about being thrown into awkward conversations without having a phone to pretend to distract you.
I also made some incredible friends. Living in such a condensed environment means that you all experience each other’s ups and downs. You learn to support each other through everything and after a while you learn to just laugh things off and realise that the situation could pretty much always be worse.
I remember one particular camping trip I went on with eight kids and one other member of staff. We were canoeing across a fairly decent sized lake as part of a four day trip and we got caught in a thunderstorm. It was absolutely throwing it down, I was soaked to the bone and my canoe was slowly pooling water. Everything in my rucksack was sodden and we had to just keep going. If I’m ever getting stressed at my desk because things are taking me longer than I’d like, or if something doesn’t work out as planned, I think about days like those and crack on with it.
What sparked your initial interest in working in the legal industry?
My initial interest in a career in the legal industry began when I started watching Silk on BBC One. Maxine Peake played a defence barrister fighting her way through her career with the intention of becoming a QC. The courtroom scenes used to amaze me and I’d often think ‘I’d love to do that one day’. In reality however, I didn’t think it was ever achievable and so I continued with my original intentions of becoming a teacher.
It wasn’t until I’d graduated that I had a change of heart and started actively looking at how to get into law. Just before I went to camp for my last summer I applied to study my GDL at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and my application was accepted a few days before I was due to fly out. At the time I was so excited – I literally had no idea how much hard work it would all be!
What are your biggest challenges in the Holiday Sickness Team?
Being fairly new to the department I haven’t really been exposed to everything yet I don’t think. The main thing that came as a bit of a shock is definitely the workload. Suddenly I’ve got extra things like post and files to deal with whereas previously I just needed to be on top of phone calls and emails. Also, as the department is expanding the workload is ever increasing so I’m trying to make sure that I get everything done on time. Learning to prioritise is definitely a challenge.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
I enjoy explaining things to clients in a way that they understand. For some people this is the first time they have ever used a law firm so they don’t always grasp some of the legal jargon used or know quite what is going to happen throughout their claim. It’s easy for us all to refer to things using acronyms or brush over in-depth details because we know our colleagues understand, but sometimes clients are too scared to ask questions and It’s nice to take time to explain things for them so that they fully appreciate how we can help.
In your spare time, how do you like to wind down?
With being at university and also working full time around my studies, I don’t get much free time so I usually make the most of an opportunity to do absolutely nothing! Sometimes you can’t beat watching 12 hours of a box set back to back without getting up to eat. I do love going to the gym though and I find that it’s one of the few things that helps me clear my head.
How would your friends describe you?
This is a difficult one; I’ve had to consult them before writing this!
I’m pretty organised with most things and I like to take my time so I’ve developed a bit of a nickname of being an old man. I’m also known to be quite straightforward and to the point with my feelings so I also get called the tin man every now and again, particularly if I’m totally missing the point in some emotional topic. I think this is the reason why I hate shows such as the X-factor and Britain’s Got Talent so much; I absolutely cannot stand a sob story!
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
I would have to say America, most probably New York. I’ve been lucky enough to spend quite a bit of time both in the city and within the rest of the state and so I’ve seen both sides really. While there are the obvious sights of the city itself, there’s always something new to do and there are loads of independent bars and shops that are really cool to discover. I also like the fact that the state itself is so huge…a few hours’ drive north of the city and you feel like you’re in another world; no phone signal and nothing to see but trees and bright blue skies.