For an 8 year old girl, if you can’t see, you can’t be it, now girls have footballers they can actually aspire to be, and to me that’s game changing.
Commercial litigation associate, Lauren Steel-Smith, has worked here at Primas Law since 2017 but aside from her flourishing legal career, she’s also played for women’s football teams since the age of six.
Whilst captaining her local grassroots women’s side, AFC Oldham, Lauren also works with high-net-worth individuals, including Premier League footballers, on investment fraud cases as part of her role at Primas.
On the back of the England women’s team bringing it home this summer, we caught up with Lauren on how she’s managed to build a legal career whilst still fulfilling her passion on the pitch.
“I joined my first all girls’ team at the age of six and instantly fell in love with the game” said Lauren. “I was playing at academy level at under 16’s, but when it came to choosing my career path, playing football full-time as a woman just wasn’t deemed as a route that was feasible at the time. So instead, I was the first person in my family to go to university.
“I completed my three-year law degree and post-grad LPC at Manchester Metropolitan University before obtaining a training contract with Primas as a Trainee Solicitor, all whilst enjoying playing football for the First Team at university.”
The real-life ‘She’s the Man’
“When at primary school there wasn’t a girl’s football team or any encouragement for girls to participate in football, but I always joined in with the boys at lunchtime. When a boys’ team was set up, I was initially told I couldn’t play for the team. That quickly changed after my Dad threated to sue the school for discrimination (no guesses as to who I get my litigious streak from) … This didn’t change when I got to secondary school, there was no option for girls to play football. I actually had to play with the boys year 11 team to get a mark on my PE GCSE. Thankfully, the boys were very supportive and did not make me feel different or out of place. You will probably find that almost every woman my age shared the same experience and barriers to football, I think that’s what makes women’s teams and especially the Lionesses so close.
“Training for a law degree meant that I did have to have a break from playing football as it got quite time intensive, but the longer I had apart from the pitch, the more I missed it. Since joining Primas, I’ve been able to play for my local women’s team for the last four years, and was named as captain after the players requested it from the manager.
“This means that I’m very much the “Mum” of the team, taking a supporting role and bringing some of the younger members of the team into the fold. It’s my job to keep everyone motivated and be that strong example for the team, which is something I really take pride in.”
A different ball game
“The skills I’ve learnt over the years being part of multiple teams has really stood me in good stead for my career in law too. Quick-thinking, resilience and the ability to back myself have meant that my choice to pursue a legal vocation has really suited me. My competitive side is especially brought out by litigation…
“With a keen interest in sport, working alongside Premier League footballers on investment fraud cases has been a really interesting one for me. Working with high-net-worth individuals on injunction work and the fast-paced approach and innovative thinking that it requires is something that I genuinely enjoy coming to work for, as well as the brilliant team I get to work alongside too.”
Levelling the playing field
“The Euros frenzy that built up this summer has only reminded me that I made the right decision to continue with my football alongside my role at Primas. Sitting on the tram and listening to men talking about women’s football in the way they’d talk about men’s has brought such a smile to my face – and seeing them shouting at the TV as though it was a men’s cup final was something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime.
“We’ve all faced our fair share of hate and sexism as women in sport but this year’s England team has represented just what can be achieved with women’s football and how much it goes way beyond what’s happening on the pitch. For an 8 year old girl, if you can’t see, you can’t be it, now girls have footballers they can actually aspire to be, and to me that’s game changing.”
Our Managing Partner, Adam Kerr added: “When Lauren came for her interview at Primas over five years ago, the fact that she’d played for a women’s football side really stood out to me. It’s no secret the challenges that women in sport face, and I know that Lauren’s participation in football from such a young age would mean she’d come with many of the qualities we look for in young legal professionals.
“It was certainly one of the deciding factors for her appointment after she graduated. To be successful in a career in law, resilience is key and during her five years at Primas, she’s certainly brought a lot of skills from the pitch to her day job.”
We are also proud to announce our recent deal with AFC Oldham to sponsor their home shirt for the coming season.
If you’d like to get in touch with Lauren, contact her directly on: email@example.com