Magda Marciniak is a Partner at Justitia Lawyers and shares her passion and purpose for choosing a career in employment law.
Have you always wanted to be a lawyer? Were there other career avenues you were interested in pursuing?
At university I initially studied psychology. However, I was struggling to enjoy subjects like statistics (which was a part of my psychology degree). Eventually, I made the decision to transfer to law. Once I was in law school, I knew I very much wanted to become an employment lawyer.
What drew you to employment law specifically?
I think it was the fact that the whole area is about people. It’s all about how people work together and how to resolve problems. I think first and foremost, people are the greatest resource that companies have. Ultimately, people have to be happy at work – an organisation is just its people.
I also enjoy working with diverse organisations and understanding their values. Different organisations approach things in varied ways – they may have policies, objectives or cultures that can be quite different. Part of my psychology studies at uni (before I went into law) involved industrial and organisational psychology. I am very interested in how to motivate people and how to create a harmonious work environment; how to support people and play to their strengths. These are ideas that were always bubbling away in my mind – and they still do.
What is something that you enjoy about working with clients?
I endeavour to have good relationships with all of my clients so that they always feel supported. I always want the people I work with to trust me, and know that they can be honest with me and let me know if they do not understand something. I try to be authentic in all my interactions and do not pretend to know something when I do not. But I can always work it out!
This is something we really encourage at Justitia – we want to have positive and ongoing working relationships with clients. I want clients to feel like I am genuinely helping them.
I also don’t want people to feel intimidated by lawyers. I would hope that people see employment lawyers as a valuable resource and for our clients to know that we will do the best that we can for them. When I wake up in the morning I am already thinking about the best way I can help the clients I will be dealing with that day. Being a trusted advisor to someone is ultimately what I strive for and is something that I really enjoy.
What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Being a lawyer can be really stressful, you have to give 110% every day. You have to be at the top of your game even when you feel unwell or exhausted. This means that time away from work is really important. I think this is something that lots of people have realised during the pandemic.
Employment law can also involve quite technical advice and dealing with complex scenarios, but I feel lucky that I am in a job where I am able to problem-solve every day. It’s incredibly stimulating. I don’t take it for granted and always remember where I came from, because not everyone gets the career they want, and there are people much smarter and kinder than me who didn’t get the same chance.
You are a Partner at the firm and therefore, a very important part of Justitia. When you pictured a legal career, is this a role you ever saw yourself in?
I always wanted to be in the law long-term and I love being a lawyer. I always thought I would be in the law until I retired, but I didn’t always have a definitive picture of what my legal career would look like. However, I always knew I wanted to be working alongside other lawyers and to be amongst a good team of people – I never wanted to work individually.
I also knew I wanted to be in a position where I was able to mentor developing lawyers. I did not necessarily expect or envisage myself becoming a Partner, but I thought I would enjoy a senior role where I was able to assist others and help to shape the culture of an organisation.
Finally, I know you enjoy travelling. Where is the first international destination you are hoping to visit now that international borders have reopened?
I do love travel. I especially love running around New York (not literally) and visiting my secret beach in Thailand, but I have also missed my regular trips to see my family in Poland. I also enjoy doing retreats and courses and am excited to get back to the Omega Institute, so that might be one of the first spots, once it is safe.
Magda Marciniak was interviewed by Madi Wynen.