Alumnus of the Month
Stephen Cartwright is our Westminster City School Alumnus of the Month for March 2021. Stephen left Westminster City School in 2006. He is now a legal counsel and freelance commercial and technology solicitor.
Please tell us a little about yourself – where do you work and how did you get to this role?
I left Westminster City School after completing my GCSEs and went to Richmond Upon Thames College for my A Levels. I then studied English Literature at the University of Surrey before completing the GDL (ie law conversion course) and LLM LPC at Law School. I qualified as a solicitor in January 2020.
On qualification, I moved to a technology and brand protection company, and I currently work in their in-house legal function. I decided to move in-house as I wanted to get closer to a business and understand how commercial targets are managed day to day against legal risk. Outside of my day-to-day role, I provide freelance legal services to entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses.
What are some of your proudest achievements since leaving Westminster City School?
Without doubt, it has to be qualifying as a solicitor. I grew up in a single parent household without the resources that many of my colleagues have been lucky to benefit from (eg private education, tuition and a broad professional network). I have had to work extremely hard to get to where I am but it has certainly moulded me into the man I am today.
What advice would you give someone looking to follow a similar career path?
My advice would be to plan your next steps as soon as you have committed to pursuing a career in law. This means picking the right A Levels and understanding what route into law you want to pursue (eg traditional law degree or converting after completing a non-law degree). Ensure you do well at your GCSEs, A Levels and at university, as your grades will be heavily scrutinised by prospective employers. Your hobbies and background is something that will help you stand out from others so do not underplay that experience.
Finally, I would also advise reaching out to a mentor who has been in the same shoes and can help get you where you want to be. Reach out to Westminster City School alumni or university alumni, as you will find that people are more supportive than you think and will help you where they can.
How have your experiences at Westminster City School contributed to your life and successes since leaving school?
I think my experiences at Westminster City School taught me resilience. In life, this is one of the most important traits you need to have to succeed. In law, you will face a lot rejection and pushback – be prepared for this – having that resilience and determination is key to get you to your end goal.
Can you describe one of your fondest memories from your time at Westminster City School?
There are too many to mention. From representing our School football team, to attending a robotics competition in Washington DC, USA, to captaining the cricket team to our most successful season, and just engaging with the teachers. I recall meeting some amazing teachers who saw potential and nurtured that potential. Particularly Mr Hay (English) for his frank advice and Ms Meadows (Geography) and Mr Deschamps (Geography) for giving up their weekends for extra classes for my early GCSE Geography. I’m not sure if they are still at Westminster City School, or even still teaching at all, but I just wanted to say a heartfelt thanks for all your hard work.
Professionally, I hope to progress in my career like anyone else. Personally, I would like to aspire the next generation of lawyers and help those students who are walking the same path and need guidance to reach their career goals.
We love hearing what our alumni have been doing since leaving Westminster City School. Each month, we are inviting a member of our alumni community to share their story of life after Palace Street. If you’re an alumnus who would like to take part, or you’d like to volunteer an alumnus that you know, then please drop us an email.