Jacqueline McGuigan – From Legal Secretary to Lawyer

We at ILSPA believe that, with the right initiative, our students have the potential to reach any goal that they aspire to. This belief has been supported recently in the case of Jacqueline McGuigan, former Legal Secretary, now Lawyer, who rose to media fame due to a significant employment law case. This achievement stands as a testimony to the fact that Legal Secretaries with talent, ambition and motivation have unlimited potential within the legal sector and could even go on to winning cases that are reported in the national news.

The case which threw Jacqueline into the limelight involved a London plumber’s rights within his self-employment with Pimlico Plumbers. Jacqueline acted on behalf of the defendant, Gary Smith, a London plumber who had suffered a heart attack and requested to reduce his hours at work. His request was refused and he was dismissed from the company, which sparked the debate as to whether self-employed contractors should be allowed the same privileges as traditional workers. Eventually, after several years, the court ruled that even though Gary Smith was technically self-employed, he was justified in his request for sick and holiday pay, amongst the other benefits that regular employees receive. The case gained marked media attention as it highlighted the need for transparency with regard to workers’ rights, therefore reducing the exploitation of vulnerable employees. Gary Smith received widespread sympathy from social media, and the case even trended on Twitter. There has also been speculation as to the potential for the case to act as a landmark case which could provide clarification for similar cases that follow. When asked about the subject, Jacqueline stated: “The case has brought much-needed clarity to the modern world of working. Employers have found new ways of providing work and, while it is attractive for employees to have flexibility, it often comes at a price of missing out on potentially far more lucrative employment rights.”

Jacqueline’s innate appetite towards creating a fair and just society led her towards studying to become a Social Worker. To support her ambition, she acquired a job as a Legal Secretary, allowing her to fund her studies towards working in the social sector. However, after a few months, Jacqueline realised that the two paths, law and social services, had a common vein running through them: justice. Jacqueline came to the conclusion that through law she could make a positive difference to social equality with the added benefit of the cases she aided coming to a more conclusive point of resolution, win or lose. Jacqueline found such enjoyment in law that she made a pivotal decision to change career paths and focus her studies towards becoming a Lawyer. Jacqueline then received two lucky breaks, the first being that her law firm saw it as appropriate to pay for some of her studies towards becoming a Lawyer, and the second being that she was offered a partnership at the law firm on the day she qualified as a Solicitor.

Jacqueline now acts as Principal at TMP Solicitors, a niche company she co-founded in 2006 which focuses on all aspects of employment law. Forming her own company was a natural development for Jacqueline; she is a self-directed and outspoken individual who has a preference for working independently. Jacqueline is extremely passionate about the one-on-one service she can provide, which independent working allows her to give. Jacqueline’s extensive experience in employment law, coupled with her tenacity and determination, has allowed her to present a persuasive argument on behalf of the impressive array of clients she has acted for. She sets her own rules and can leave no stone unturned when defending a case. Gary Smith was fortunate to find such a compelling Solicitor who had sincere belief in his cause to defend his case. It is a reminder to us all that when we let our principles drive us, we are capable of the greatest work.