Where else can you create a thriving career with a law degree?

January 17, 2024
careers in law

After graduating as a lawyer, Sally Watts might have been expected to end up, well, in law. But not every legal professional needs to spend their time in courts or in working through multiple legal cases. For Sally, working for Freightliner has provided a legal career path that is unique, rewarding, and far wider in scope than anything she’d done before.

As Head of Legal and Company Secretary, she is responsible for overseeing the legal affairs of the whole business, reviewing contracts, giving advice, managing the relationships with external lawyers, and advising the directors of their duties.

Supported all the way by Freightliner, Sally, although only recently joining the team, is building a strong web of connections which are giving her room to learn, develop, and succeed in the logistics sector.

She admits, “It can be quite a challenge at times, given I am solely responsible for the legal affairs of the business.”

“But” she adds “I actually have the biggest team of all, in that I have worked, in some way, with almost the entire business.”

Which is just the kind of challenge Sally was looking for.

What was missing from her law career, and where she found it

But it took her a minute to get here. After trying out criminal law, and then shifting into corporate legal consulting, Sally needed new challenges.

“I had decided I needed a position with a wider scope and more responsibility,” she explains.

Freightliner came along at just the right time for me. Its positive stance on women employees made them a relatively easy choice.”

careers in law

She started at Freightliner as the second in charge of the company’s General Counsel.

“Within 12 months, the General Counsel decided it was time to step down, and I was promoted to Head of Legal, and I’ve currently been in the role for three months.”

She hasn’t looked back, and she says Freightliner, with its commitment to ethics and regulations, has been the perfect place to play out her career choice.

But she first had to work out who, and what, Freightliner was.

What’s it like to work for Freightliner?

“To be honest, prior to being introduced to the role, I hadn’t heard of Freightliner or really paid too much attention to the intermodal logistics industry.

Despite not knowing much about the business, Sally backed her instinct that Freightliner was what she was looking for.

“I knew early on that moving to Freightliner was the right decision for me, “she says.

“The role here has given me access to a huge variety of legal issues and transactions, a sense that women count at this company and that ethics here are valued.

“I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to be so connected to all this in my previous role.”

See how Freightliner’s flexible working policies workplace might just be the right connection for you.

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“I have had a huge amount of personal growth over the last 18 months and the role has challenged me to step outside of my comfort zone.”

She humbly adds there’s still so much to learn, “I’m still very new to this, and I’m on a daily learning journey.”

Freightliner offer non-stop learning and development

A major part of that learning curve is in knowing what she needs to know, and knowing what insights she can outsource.

“I cannot answer or advise on absolutely every legal aspect of the business.

“I think of my role as being like a GP’s; we have a good basic legal knowledge of certain areas, but for anything outside the scope I have to tap external lawyers who are subject matter experts.

“So, while I might not be able to provide an answer or advice there and then, I can act as a triage for all legal, and usually, non-legal issues.”

Freightliner has provided Sally with all the tools and scope she needs for her to be across everything, even as she admits she can’t know everything.

“I find that a fresh lens and an ability to ask the most basic questions, without judgment, is the best way to learn a new skill and to get a sense of the industry as you aren’t handcuffed to pre-existing misconceptions.”

Being in touch with such a range of different contexts and situations means Sally must be constantly assessing and reassessing her viewpoint.

“Being the in-house lawyer means that I usually have the kind of “helicopter view” over what’s happening in the organization.

It’s a unique perspective and I’m able to undertake risk assessments and to advise based on total knowledge, rather than being focussed on just one area of the business.”

Integrity is an integral value at Freightliner

Freightliner’s commitment to ethics and culture adds an extra responsibility for Sally as she must weigh external considerations with the company’s internal benchmarks.

A photo of Sally Watts

“Due to the nature of my role, I must align with the values of integrity.

“As the legal expert for our business, I have to lead by example, and that means I have to be the ultimate example of top-class ethics and integrity.

“I must remain as an independent advisor, with one eye on ethics and reputation when considering the merits of certain transactions which may fall between right and wrong.”

In this culture of ethical high standards, Sally is continually inspired by how well Freightliner empowers women in the workplace.

“I have been really impressed at how Freightliner works to support women in its industry, which remains male-dominated in many ways,” she says.

“I discovered, in my research on the company before being employed, that Freightliner had a long-standing and respected profile in the UK, and that the business strategy was focussed on change and growth.

“I wanted a role where I could make a difference with an influential company and get ahead as a woman in law and in this industry, and I felt like Freightliner and I were on a similar trajectory.”

Despite moving outside of where she thought she was going to be, Sally says Freightliner is exactly where she needs to be.

“I’d like to hope that I’m not your usual lawyer!”, she laughs.

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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