A solicitor at Cygnet Law is advocating the benefits of volunteering during Volunteers Week after completing her training contract with the legal firm.

Joanne Grey, 36, from Stockton, originally joined the Redcar legal firm as a Legal Secretary after gaining extensive experience volunteering while studying for her Law Degree.

Although now fully qualified, Joanne decided to study law at the age of 29, going on to gain a degree at Teesside University, before progressing to Northumbria University’s Legal Practice course.

Her commitment to the role and the in-depth knowledge, gained from her time with a number of legal support organisations so impressed Peter Medd, Cygnet’s Managing Director, that he offered her a solicitor training contract.

She supplemented her courses by gaining first-hand legal experience volunteering with organisations including Citizens Advice, Durham Tees Valley Probation Service and Teesside Magistrates Court.

Peter Medd, Managing Director of Cygnet Law, said: “Whenever Cygnet is reviewing a candidate for a job, we always look for someone with a strong work ethic and a willingness to learn. Joanne’s history of volunteering showed she had these attributes in abundance.

“She is a perfect example of how volunteering can transform lives. Joanne embraced volunteering as an opportunity to not only help those in her community, but also better her life chances. It’s paid off, and she is now a valued member of Cygnet’s team, with a bright future ahead of her.”

Joanne said: “I was older than the majority of the students I studied with, many of whom were coming to university after studying law at A Level. This meant I had to work harder than them to get to the same level of knowledge.

“In my opinion, the best way to learn is by doing, so whenever I wasn’t working behind a bar, I spent as much time as I could volunteering with legal organisations. It’s a great way to gain workplace experience, but you also get an enormous sense of satisfaction from helping people.

“Without the time I spent volunteering I wouldn’t have be in the position I am today. I can honestly say that it has helped change my life for the better. I now have a very rewarding job in the sector that I have always been passionate about.

“I would say to anybody who wants to improve their employability, make new friends and learn new skills to give volunteering a go.”