Out at Work: Paul Maddock, Senior Associate

Being yourself at work is something that LGBTQ+ people continue to wrestle with. As part of our Out at Work series, Vada Magazine meets Paul Maddock, Senior Associate at DWF.

The Law, Paul Maddock tells me, felt like a good fit for him. As somebody who has always been interested in solving problems and creating practical strategies to resolve issues, he decided to pursue a Law degree at the University of Liverpool, before undertaking his Legal Practice Course at the College of Law (now the University of Law) in Chester.

“I quite liked the mix of academic and vocation that a Law degree allowed me to explore,” he says of his experience at university. When he wasn’t studying for his degree, Maddock paid his way through university by working in a department store. “I spent six years in the gifts department, so my knowledge of candles, gift wrap and hurricane lamps is unparalleled.”

After graduation, Maddock secured a training contract with DWF in Liverpool. Some 14 years later, Maddock still works at the firm today. He is currently a Senior Associate, specialising in corporate and commercial disputes.

But his career path wasn’t as straight-forward as it may sound. Coming from a background where nobody in his family were lawyers, nor did anybody know any, it was Maddock’s grandmother who used her network to help him. “Because I didn’t know any solicitors, my nan, who worked in a coffee shop, asked a number of customers whether they knew any lawyers,” he recalls. “Eventually her persistence paid off and I secured my first work experience.”

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The coffee shop networking opened the doors to more work experience opportunities, including Maddock being offered a month-long vacation scheme placement in London. “I was then able to compare which cities I wanted to work in and the size and type of firm,” he explains of the experience.

With a reputation for being a highly competitive field, Maddock’s foray into the legal world would take hard work and perseverance. “I had to undertake several interviews and assessment centres, which involved tests and presentations,” he tells me. This would eventually earn him a highly sought-after training contract at a large international firm. “The firm was always so welcoming and friendly that I knew it was where I wanted to train and remain thereafter.”

Maddock says it is the friendly culture at DWF that has allowed him to always feel able to be open about his sexuality in the workplace, with clients and colleagues alike. When I ask if there has ever been a time that has challenged this, he evokes a memory when he was a junior member of the team. “I undertook two client secondments,” he explains. “At first, I was a little nervous about being out on secondment, especially given how junior I was at the time. However, the client team was fantastically welcoming and the company had great diversity and inclusion initiatives that I was able to get involved in.”

Whilst he doesn’t feel he has been prejudiced against for being gay, it was his northern roots that were targeted towards the start of his legal career. “When I was working at a vacation placement in London during university, my feedback was that I was too regional, which I felt was coded with prejudice.”

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Alongside his day job, Maddock established and runs his firm’s LGBTQ+ network. “The firm was super supportive of the network and I am now the vice chair of the Law Society of England and Wales’ LGBTQ+ Committee,” he says. “This has allowed me the opportunity to help improve the experiences of LGBTQ+ lawyers in the profession and for stakeholders who utilise legal services.”

As for future legal graduates thinking of joining the profession, Maddock says the sector has changed “dramatically” over the years, especially with regards to equality and diversity. “Many firms are now leading the way in various diversity and inclusion rankings, such as Stonewall’s UK Workplace Equality Index,” he says. “I would suggest that candidates find firms that share their cultural aims.”

Paul Maddock is a Senior Associate at DWF. 

About Hadley Stewart

Hadley Stewart is Features Editor at Vada Magazine.