The newest member of our esteemed alumni community, Dan Morris has shared his experience at NPTC Group of Colleges and his career success in the field of Law. We asked Dan a few questions about his specific choice in career, his journey through education and how he ended up working in law in the UK Capital.
Q – What course(s) did you study with us and when?
A – “I studied A Levels in economics, law and geography from 1993 – 1995”
Q – Where do you work and what is your job role?
A – “I am a solicitor and Partner at Bevan Brittan LLP, a nationwide commercial law firm. I work out of our London office where I specialise in healthcare litigation, defending complex, high-value and repercussive cases brought against NHS and independent healthcare providers.
I recently acted for an NHS Hospital Trust in a test case in the Supreme Court which concerned international commercial surrogacy arrangements and am regularly instructed on multi-million-pound negligence actions involving obstetric, neurosurgical, ICU and cardiac care.
I am interested in all areas of healthcare law and ethics but have a particular focus on emerging clinical risk and patient safety issues arising in the fields of digital health, artificial intelligence, and med-tech. I am my firm’s Lead for Digital Health law and advise healthcare start-ups, app developers and major corporate clients on liability exposure, insurance arrangements and other dispute issues.”
Q – What do you think influenced you to work in this industry?
A – “My interest in the law was there from quite early on, though I am not quite sure where it originally came from as no-one in my family has any connections with the profession. While still at school I did a work experience placement at a firm of solicitors in Neath (L.C. Thomas & Son, as it then was). My interest was further developed by Neath College law lecturer, Wyn Davies, who always encouraged his students to think about the moral dimensions that are so often involved in legal cases – something that I found fascinating and which I have encountered throughout my career.
I was also greatly encouraged in my academic studies by my uncle, Martin Davies, who was a former lecturer of economics at Neath College. He always impressed on me the way that education can transform lives, broaden horizons and lead to a stimulating and long-lived career.
While studying for my undergraduate law degree at Swansea University, I took a module in medical law and ethics. The cases that I studied during that time, which dealt with some of the most challenging issues that societies have to grapple with – euthanasia, abortion, how we treat people who lack mental capacity – made it clear to me that medical law was the area that I wanted to be involved in. After completing my LLB degree, I went on to obtain an MA in medical law and ethics at King’s College London and subsequently a PhD in medical law at the University of Liverpool. The teachers I had at every stage of my education made a huge impression on me and, briefly, I considered becoming a law lecturer, and did indeed do some part-time tutoring while I was doing my PhD. In the end, however, I was attracted to the bright lights of practice in the city.”
Q – What do you enjoy about your career?
A – “I enjoy the variety in the work that I do and the people I get to work with. One day I might be interviewing and taking witness statements from a neurosurgeon or an obstetrician who is being sued; the next I might be speaking at a conference on advances in digital health technology; the day after that might be catching up with paperwork and supervising junior lawyers in my team; the following day could be spent negotiating in a settlement meeting or having to make submissions in front of a judge.
No two days are spent working with the same people, but much of my practice is spent in and around the NHS. I have always had huge admiration for what our doctors, nurses and other health professionals do for us in our times of need and never has that been more apparent than lately. I have been privileged throughout my career to have got to work with some of the finest clinicians in the country, whether as witnesses or experts advising me on my cases. My work in digital health and med-tech has shown me just how innovative our NHS, our universities and industry can be.”
Q – Did you enjoy your time at college? What was good about it?
A – “I had the most fun at college – probably a little too much. As well as having some fantastic, inspiring teachers I met a great bunch of friends, some of whom I am still in touch with to this day. A trip to Brussels with my economics class to see the institutions of the EU was a particular highlight that I remember, despite the Belgian beer!”
Q – Did college give you the knowledge and experience to get into your field of choice/university/career?
A – “It certainly put me on the right path. Had I not studied A-level law at college, I am not sure I would have ended up becoming a lawyer. That was really where my interest took off. I got the grades that I needed to go on to university and everything followed from there. Within a week of arriving at university, I met a young French student who was on an exchange programme from Brittany. She eventually went on to become the mother of my two sons. As we tort lawyers say: causation is everything!”
Q – What advice would you give to current students or those looking to start college?
A – “Aim high, don’t be put off by anyone or led to believe that you are not good enough or not ‘from the right background’. As the sign outside Swansea train station reads, ’ambition is critical’. When I was younger, I was filled with self-doubt and felt that people like me just did not become lawyers. Thankfully, my family and teachers supported me to overcome that doubt and now I am keen to offer similar support to the next generation of Welsh lawyers.
Start thinking about your career early and be proactive in looking at what work experience, placements or internships will help you to get wherever you want to go. I know that the cost of higher education can seem prohibitively expensive but there are scholarships, funds and assistance programmes that can help. Again, be proactive in searching these out. For example, I am involved in a charitable organisation called the Lord Edmund-Davies Legal Education Trust (LEDLET: https://www.ledlet.org.uk/). The purpose of the charity is to assist young Welsh students to pursue a career in law when they might otherwise conclude that their background would prevent them from entering the profession.
Every year LEDLET hosts a summer scheme in London for up to 10 students to experience what a legal career may entail, with all travel, meals and accommodation paid for by the trust. The aim of this is to provide Welsh students with the opportunity to make an informed decision about whether a career in law is for them. In 2020, we teamed up with the Legal Wales Foundation to run the scheme simultaneously in Cardiff for up to a further 10 students; we have teamed up with Legal Wales again for 2021. Due to the pandemic, last summer’s scheme was delivered entirely remotely, and this is the plan for the 2021 scheme.”
Q – What do you think are the benefits of undertaking a vocational course as opposed to an A Level or vice versa?
A – “Although I took the academic route, I appreciate that it is not for everyone and I believe that a good quality vocational training can take you far. Some of my own friends and peers who were at college with me chose not to do A-Levels and instead pursued vocational training and apprenticeships and have gone on to achieve great things with companies such as General Motors and Ford, and relocated as far afield as Canada where their skills were highly in demand.
In my own profession, there is increasing recognition that there is more than one route to a career in law. In my firm, we not only take on trainee solicitors who have gone through university, but we also offer an advanced apprenticeship in legal studies. This is a way of giving people real hands-on experience of legal work while studying towards paralegal and legal executive qualifications. Many of our apprentices have gone on to study for their Level 6 Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship or the Level 7 Solicitor Apprenticeship.”
Q – What has your journey through education been like? Highs, lows, achievements, and obstacles?
A – “I genuinely feel I owe everything to my education – my career, my family and everything else that comes with that.”
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