Skip to content
Sara Smith, Senior Solicitor


Job title: Senior Solicitor

Area of work: Legal Services: Child protection

I moved to Devon to work for the County Council in 2010, having previously worked in private practice in Wigan, Lancashire. I was looking for an opportunity to further specialise in child protection work having always worked in the Family Courts and I felt that the role with the Council would allow me to really focus on the interests of the child as opposed to the parents.

Devon is attractive in its own right as a working environment however the Council also offered a much better work-life balance than my previous roles and with a young family, the Council’s positive attitude towards flexible working was particularly beneficial to me at that time.

Other benefits include really generous annual leave and the opportunity to take flexitime to recover additional hours that I have worked. The Local Government Pension Scheme was also a factor in my decision as the firms I had worked for in private practice did not make contributions to my pension.

The working culture is very different to private practice where I had been used to having to meet financial targets and deal with the Legal Aid Agency, including time recording. None of this is necessary in legal roles with the County Council and you are encouraged and given time to really focus and spend time on your cases, with a lesser requirement for paperwork.

Having said that, as a large employer, the County Council is still able to provide developmental and career progression opportunities, and I achieved promotion within a few years to a managerial level post where I now manage a team of eight child protection solicitors and eight legal support staff.

I am fortunate to work with a team of colleagues who are like-minded in their desire to do their best to promote the welfare of the child and I have felt supported by managers to achieve that. This has recently allowed me to achieve recognition by the Devon and Somerset Law Society by granting me the award of Best In-House Lawyer for the area, following nomination by local private practice.

All in all, I find the role very fulfilling and I am very glad I made the move from private practice.