Aspire Board Member Spotlight – an interview with Katie Barker, Associate, Addleshaw Goddard

Aspire Board Member Spotlight – an interview with Katie Barker, Associate, Addleshaw Goddard

Sophie Gould talks to Katie Barker who has been an Aspire Board Member for 18 months about her career path, how she has found being an Aspire Board member and the biggest opportunities within her role at Addleshaw Goddard.

Tell us a little bit about yourself 
Prior to qualifying in September 2019, I secured Network Rail Infrastructure Limited’s first training contract since 1995 and began my training in London in 2017. 
My two years with Network Rail far exceeded my expectations. I was fortunate enough to work in a rewarding environment and gain an appreciation of the many nuances that sit within the rail sector, (along with its many acronyms)!
I developed a keen interest in corporate work through internal projects with key business stakeholders at Network Rail and undertaking a six-month secondment to Dentons UK & Middle East LLP in their City corporate team. As a result of this, on qualification, I decided to move to my current role at Addleshaw Goddard, where I am an associate in the corporate team. 
Adding another string to my bow, (to want for a better phrase), I have been on the Advisory Board of the Aspire network for the past 18 months. I am committed to increasing awareness of this alternative route to qualification. Universities are increasingly cognisant of the need to promote a broad spectrum of professional roles within the legal industry, however, there is more that needs to be done to encourage discussion around the myriad of opportunities that training in-house can offer and Aspire is a platform that does exactly that!
What were the biggest opportunities at Network Rail?
Working within such a large multi-functional organisation gave me the opportunity to understand how the business operates, and the importance of understanding what both internal and external stakeholders are working towards and how that aligns to the strategy of the business.
I was fortunate to have been able to work alongside a talented team on several high-profile projects such as; 
• the sale of Network Rail’s archway portfolio; 
• contingency planning at time of the Carillion collapse; and 
• the British Steel liquidation. 
As a result of these experiences, I was able to obtain an understanding of the Company's various functions including governance and regulatory landscape and I have developed a commercial skillset  which I’ve been able to take to my role at Addleshaw Goddard.
I am also a Professional Ambassador for Aspiring Solicitors. Aspiring Solicitors (AS) is an initiative that is dedicated to increasing diversity in the legal profession, and I am pleased to have partnered with them to help Network Rail deliver their first in-house vacation scheme for AS members.
What do you enjoy most about being a part of the Aspire network?
Aspire is a great forum to be able to discuss any myths and/or misconceptions you may have about this route to qualification. At Network Rail, I was the only trainee, along with being the only junior member of the legal team for the first twelve months of my training. Aspire gave me a platform to build a network of like-minded peers, regardless of not having a trainee group of 20+ (as many of the private practice trainee intakes have). 
The Aspire forum has opened a number of doors for me, along with the Board. I was lucky enough to contribute to a Crafty Counsel video in 2018, an opportunity that would not have arisen if it wasn’t for the Aspire network. 

In short, I would really recommend joining Aspire to anyone working or aspiring to work in-house. It is a great place to exchange experiences and I personally have made some lifelong friends from the Aspire network!

Find out more about Aspire and our regular events to connect like-minded peers - including our summer virtual series across June and July. 


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About the author:

Sophie is Head of Learning & Development at F-LEX Legal - an award winning legal tech startup helping law firms and organisations manage a flexible work force and supporting lawyers to make smarter life/work choices. 

As part of her portfolio career Sophie runs various learning and development and networking forums for in-house lawyers and mentors junior lawyers.  These include Flying Solo for small and solo legal teams and Aspire for junior in-house lawyers which she runs for LexisNexis UK.  She also works with schools and organisations to promote social mobility within the legal profession, working with The Social Mobility Business Partnership and Aspiring Solicitors. 

She trained as a lawyer in the City and worked as an in-house lawyer for 10 years including as Head of Legal for Virgin Radio and Ginger Media Group.  

Outside of work she is happily married with three sons and enjoys morning walks along the beach with her two dogs.