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Cardiff Medical Negligence Lawyer Reflects on Junior Lawyers Division Highlights

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Rhian Smith, Associate Solicitor in our Medical Negligence team, reflects on her time as Education and Events Officer on the Cardiff and South East Wales Junior Lawyers Division (JLD) Committee.

I applied to be a committee member on the Cardiff JLD back in 2018, having relocated from Swansea to Cardiff. I had been working on the JLD in West Wales before my relocation and really enjoyed it, so I was keen to continue the same work following my move. One of our key goals in Cardiff was to diversify the types of events being hosted and I believe we achieved that. It has been a fantastic 2 years and I am grateful to have very fond memories of working with the Cardiff committee.

Now the time is right for me to pass on the baton to a group of new aspiring lawyers. Before I do, I wanted to reflect on some of my highlights from the past two years; the first being where it all started- election night!

(Cheese & wine election evening to welcome new committee members, 6 September 2018)

Justice Week Charity Event

I attended my first event as a committee member the following month, for the very first National Justice Week. This was one of many events taking place across England & Wales to celebrate pro bono work. This uplifting evening was arranged by the Cardiff and District Law Society (CDLS) and promoted pro bono work for homeless people in Cardiff. Guest speakers were Shelter Cymru and Law Works Cymru.

(Justice week charity event, 29 October 2018)

The Great Legal Quiz

A lot of the work we do on the JLD committee is to fundraise for charity. Our biggest fundraising event of the year is always The Great Legal Quiz. It was the perfect way to end National Justice Week 2018. With the help of around 150 lawyers and law related professionals, we raised an impressive £950 to be split between two very deserving charities, Reaching Justice Wales and Law Works Cymru. As a result, we retained the title of Best National Fundraisers.

#TeamJCP put in a great effort at the quiz, only losing out in the tie break to Reaching Justice Wales, led by His Honour Judge Harrison (I think that was only fitting!).

(His Honour Judge Harrison opening The Great Legal Quiz, 1 November 2018)

The Great Legal Bake

In between our bigger events, we hosted smaller scale fundraisers such as charity bake sales (what’s not to like about cake for a good cause?!). In February 2019, we held The Great Legal Bake at the JCP Solicitors Cardiff office with proceeds going to Reaching Justice Wales.

(The Great Legal Bake, 25 February 2019)

Myths & Millennials 2.0

My biggest highlight was our Myths & Millennials 2.0 event run by JLD Cardiff, CDLS and Yolk Recruitment. It was a sequel to the lively Myths & Millennials panel debate, prompted by Simon Sinek’s viral interview on millennials in the workplace.

The first Myths & Millennials panel debate was really informative, with Yolk’s social media survey showing that junior lawyers prioritise work life balance over opportunities to progress and remuneration. The debate highlighted that many junior lawyers want flexibility in the workplace but don’t have the confidence to ask for it, for fear that their request will be refused or their commitment will be questioned.

We were keen to delve deeper and continue these open and frank discussions about the next generation of lawyers - hence Myths & Millennials 2.0. Our aim was to hold a variety of interactive group sessions to determine how businesses can attract and retain millennials and how millennials can dispel the myths about their generation (i.e. that they are lazy and entitled) and be valued in the workplace.

(Preparation for Myths & Millennials 2.0, 7 March 2019)

We were so pleased to see a great mix of experienced and junior lawyers from across Cardiff discussing topics such as reverse mentoring, positive feedback and flexible working. We collated the advice and ideas of our attendees and we published them on our social media channels after the event.

The key message I took from Myths & Millennials 2.0 was that communication at all levels of your business is vital to get the most out of your workforce. Although lawyers from different generations might employ different methods of working, everybody has the same goal and we can work more cohesively if we talk openly and honestly about what we need to perform our jobs better.

(Speakers at Myths & Millennials 2.0, 7 March 2019)

Easter Egg Hunt

In April 2019 we hosted the Easter Egg Hunt in Cardiff which was an eggcellent (excuse the pun!) opportunity for our members to wind down after work and get to know each other better.

(Easter bunnies at the Easter Egg Hunt, 12 April 2019)

The Supreme Court in Wales

In July 2019, the committee attended an event at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay to celebrate the inaugural sitting of the Supreme Court in Wales. We listened to a thought provoking lecture by Dr Sara Elin Roberts on Hywel Dda and Welsh Law and we were incredibly honoured to meet Lady Hale herself.

(Meeting Lady Hale, 22 July 2019)

Your Legal Career During Covid-19

In March 2020 the world changed for us all. We learnt a new ways of working and the Cardiff JLD began to communicate with members more online. We provided free Zoom events such as Your Legal Career During Covid-19, aimed to support NQ’s and trainees looking to secure employment. We had a speaker from Yolk Recruitment on the current legal landscape and then speakers on leaving vs. staying in the firm you trained in. I enjoyed telling my story and spoke in particular about my route to qualification and why I chose to stay at JCP Solicitors after I qualified.

(My new work colleague... not so good at the tea round!)

I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with my fellow committee members on the Cardiff JLD. Over the past two years, we have achieved our goals as a team and made lasting connections and friendships. Although I will miss working with our members, I have no doubt that they will continue to support the development and growth of this fantastic junior body in the years to come.

Rhian found her vocation within medical negligence and her passion for achieving the right outcome for her clients, whilst providing them with the support and compassion they deserve. Rhian has an important role in developing the medical negligence team in East Wales and has been noted as “one to watch” by her JCP colleagues and Directors. Rhian has invaluable experience of defending medical negligence claims within the NHS and is skilled at providing advice to her clients during what can be a very difficult time.

You can contact Rhian on 02920 391916 or email