Legal Matters Q&A: Most rewarding work has been helping victims of asbestos exposure

What's the biggest development you've seen in the legal world during your career?

Jamie Hanley
Jamie Hanley

Changes and improvements in IT have been the driver for the most fundamental developments both from the point of view of lawyers and their clients. Thankfully gone are the days of waiting for weeks, sometimes months, for a reply from an opponent’s lawyers, meaning that the legal process operates far more quickly than it did when I started out.

What law would you like to see changed?

Most people still face a terribly uneven playing field when it comes to their working life. When they are treated unfairly it is often a trade union official that is there to help and guide them. I think the legislation surrounding trade unions remains deeply unfair and so if it were up to me, much of the anti-union legislation would be repealed.

What is the most exciting work you’ve ever done?

I have acted for a number of well known sports professionals and members of the acting profession – those cases have always been quite exciting. But the most rewarding work I have done has been acting for the victims of asbestos exposure. I firmly believe that people have the right to go to work and come home unharmed, and yet I’ve met so many people who have paid the ultimate price because they have been exposed to asbestos by a negligent employer – it’s been a genuine privilege to work with and for those people.

Who in the legal world do you most admire?

I’ve been fortunate to work with some very bright and talented people. It’s still far too unusual for women to hold the most senior positions, and so my Managing Partner, Frances McCarthy, is an inspiration – not only does she work harder than anyone I know, but she has helped thousands of people in her career. But for her talent and tenacity many of our clients would not have found justice.

What advice would you give someone starting out in the profession?

Do the job for the right reasons. If you are genuinely committed to helping people and using the law to level the playing field you won’t go far wrong.