Chris Finch – apprentice to associate

8th February 2022

Where did you grow up and go to school?

I’ve lived in Hereford all my life. I love living and working here; very few of my generation truly appreciate how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful county. Hereford, as a city, with places to go out to and things to do, is definitely on the up as well!

I went to Holmer Primary School, followed by Aylestone School. I was on the Music Plus programme there. I then studied A-Levels at Hereford Sixth Form College.

What did you want to do when you left school? Be honest!

When I was younger (primary school), I was obsessed with sharks, so I suppose a marine biologist or ecologist! I then got heavily into sport – predominantly rugby – so for a long time after that I wanted to do sports physiotherapy. I loved the idea of being a team doctor or physio for a professional sports team.

When and why did you start training for law and why did you choose the route that you did, as opposed to the more traditional route?

My first encounter with law as an academic subject was at Hereford Sixth Form College. When I got to sixth form, I decided to pick two science subjects, English Literature, and something new. That new subject ended up being law. It was easily my favourite A-Level subject and led me to consider whether I could pursue a career as a lawyer.

Whilst I enjoyed my time at school and sixth form, I wasn’t completely set on the prospect of going to university in the traditional sense. I’d worked from a young age and had always enjoyed having a job and the experience and independence it gave me.

Trying to think outside the box and play to my strengths, I decided that, alongside my university applications to study law at degree level, I would also try to find some form of apprenticeship within a law firm. My logic was that I could get some first-hand experience around what it’s like to work in a law firm and maybe even get my foot in the door with a potential employer.

This resulted in my first interview with Harrison Clark Rickerbys in 2013. I was interviewed by Matt Hayes and Richard Morgan, who quizzed me on why I wanted to be the new business apprentice and what my goals/aspirations were for the future.

The role of business apprentice wasn’t quite right for me, but this led to further conversations with HCR, and I later found myself in the Worcester office sitting in front of the head of family law, Andy Caldicott, and senior partner, Jonathan Brew. It was during this conversation that Andy introduced me to the CILEx route to qualification, which is how he qualified as a solicitor.

The rest, as they say, is history and the firm supported me through the CILEX Level 6 Diploma in Law and Practice, the Graduate Diploma in Law and the Legal Practice Course. I was admitted as a Chartered Legal Executive in January 2019, and cross-qualified as solicitor in 2020 upon competition of the Legal Practice Course.

Why did you choose family law and what do you love about it?

I didn’t really; it just happened to be where the opportunity was for me at that time. Let’s say it chose me!

In all seriousness though, at that time, it probably hadn’t dawned on me that I was joining one of the biggest and best family law teams in the country. As a young aspiring lawyer, the team had an embarrassment of riches in terms of mentors and people to look up to and learn from. I was incredibly fortunate.

For me, family law is about facing challenging situations and overcoming them. No case is the same and, in each instance, you have to be prepared to test your intellect and come up with (sometimes creative) solutions to help your client. Helping and supporting someone through what can be the most emotionally difficult and stressful part of their life can be hard, but I find it extremely rewarding and worthwhile.

How do you feel about your career progression generally and your most recent promotion, in particular?

I am immensely proud of my achievements to date. It certainly wasn’t the easy route to qualification – part-time study (which involved night school and studying at weekends) alongside a demanding full-time job is not for the faint hearted – but I truly believe that I have come out the other side a better and more rounded lawyer because of it.

My recent promotion to associate has shown me that the firm continues to believe in me and support my career! I want to continue to progress, develop and hone my skills as a family lawyer, and my promotion has encouraged me to do just that. The fact that I can continue my career at a top 70 law firm in my hometown, using the roots and connections that I have here and be fulfilled by the quality of work and diverse challenges that work brings is even better.

Is there anything else, interesting about yourself, that you are willing to share, aside from your career in law?

  • I am a keen hockey player and play every week. I am currently Chair of Hereford Hockey Club.
  • I also love to play squash so if I’m not in court, you can find me on the squash court!
  • I am something of a muso! I’ve played in live bands from a young age and have been fortunate enough to play some pretty exciting live shows, supporting a few household names. I also play in HCR’s house band, who compete in inter-law firm ‘battle of the bands’ for charity. I tend to swap between lead guitar and bass!
  • I am a bit of geek when it comes to tech. It’s been quite a useful skill in my career to date, and I’m often the first port of call for my team when it comes to new IT initiatives. Family law is also advancing significantly in its use of technology, so having this skillset gives me the upper hand.

In summary…

I think one of the main messages that I want to get across is that there are now so many different ways you can pursue your chosen career, whether that is in law or something else.

It’s all about the individual person and playing to your strengths. We are all different! For example, I’ve always been a people person and enjoyed building relationships and making new connections

My chosen route into law, and the area of law I happened to fall into, played to those strengths and it was thanks to the strength of those relationships and connections that I built along the way that I was able to get to where I wanted to be.

HCR is also unique for aspiring lawyers in Herefordshire as it is unrivalled locally in the quality of lawyers and work that it has. Once, most young lawyers felt like they had to go to the likes of Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff or even London if they wanted to pursue a career at a top 100 law firm. That is certainly no longer the case.